How to Improve the Culture of Your Small BusinessAs more and more conglomerations spring up across the nation, it can make small businesses feel like they have to play an awful lot of defense to keep up in a competitive world. But it’s clear that too much fear in a business will force people to make decisions based on self-preservation or even desperation in the worst of circumstances. To keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive without over-stretching the workforce, it may be time to shift gears to a healthier culture.

Encourage Balance

No matter how many studies emerge about the importance of taking breaks or about how flexibility can be a boon to workers, there’s not nearly enough of it being practiced in offices today. Tech start-ups are often laughed at for having cases of beer in the fridge and a virtual reality room for developers who want to take a break. But they haven’t necessarily jumped the shark as much as onlookers may think.

If employees feel chained to their desk, they may get a lot more done in the short-term. But in the long-term, company owners are only setting themselves up for a higher turnover rate. Both the direct and indirect costs of hiring and firing an employee can far outweigh the disadvantages of giving employees a lot more freedom in how they do their jobs.

Cut the Negativity

Think negative coworkers just need a few pep talks to get back on track? Owners may want to rethink this assumption if they’re trying to deal with a negative but otherwise productive co-worker. Negativity has a tendency to spread to co-workers at a high rate—even crossing departments or echelons of power. Chronic bad moods not only affects other people’s mood, they also affect the overall productivity of the office. Because negativity is a core trait, owners may be better off separating the employee than they are keeping them around.

Letting people work from home has become a much more viable option today as technology continues to improve, and some studies suggest that it actually helps people get more done on a regular basis. High-productivity workers are far more likely to leave a small business than they are to be dragged down with the negativity around them.

Define the Culture

Workers today want to be connected to the ideals a business espouses. In fact, they may put this priority higher than that of their salary and benefits. Small businesses who have a mission and who stick to it can make it far easier for employees to keep a sense of perspective of what they’re trying to do. Rather than feeling as though they’re on an island, they can actively connect to a much larger purpose.

Owners can do this by telling stories that illustrate how the company is demonstrably meeting the original goals they set. Accountability and better leadership have a way of improving as everyone gets on the same page. This shift can make those late nights feel a lot more like a get-together than hard work.

No matter how an owner goes about creating the right culture, they need to commit to the underlying principles immediately. Implementing any type of change in an office will never work if the leaders themselves don’t believe in the actions. While it may be difficult to get everyone to agree on everything, there should be a general consensus before ever moving forward.