A loveable business is built on purpose. It’s that simple and that complicated.
Employees and customers will love being a part of your business if it has a “why,” a reason for existing that runs deeper than profits and sales goals. The “why” or purpose promotes happiness and when challenging times arise, it keeps things moving forward because your team has a shared sense of the bigger picture.
That’s the foundation. Here are a few guidelines for building a business culture that employees love.
1. Create a Workplace You Truly Love
As a business owner, you’re going to spend a ton of time working on and for your business — you have to surround yourself with a purpose, place and people that you really love. That means being deliberate about creating a business that rewards and fulfills you.
I started my yoga business to help promote healing and wellness. I work with my staff to achieve it in a fun environment where we don’t take ourselves too seriously and customers can easily find a class that fits their body at the point they’re at in their lives. It’s my ideal workplace, which is the prerequisite for making it that way for my employees and customers.
2. Creativity is Essential. Harness it.
Creativity can set your business apart. Just think about Zappos and all the recognition it has received for being a business people love. The company empowers employees to solve customer issues creatively and actually rewards call center associates who have longer phone calls. They recognize that creativity takes time and by encouraging it, they create a culture that employees and customers love.
Zappos really gets it right by looking to their employees for new ideas. A team approach to creativity is ideal because ideas lead to more ideas. Of course, you can’t always implement everything right away, and this is where your judgment as the business owner comes in. But it’s critical to document ideas and then periodically look at what’s working.
Creating project plans around creative objectives might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about creativity, but they’re critical for keeping things on track. They nurture creative ideas by ensuring they can be brought to fruition.
3. Pay Isn’t Everything. Flexibility is Big.
Small business budgets can prevent your employee pay from being competitive. You can get creative and offer opportunities in your business that don’t cost much, but will score big points such as flexible work policies. Allow and encourage employees to work when it makes sense for them while communicating expectations and deadlines clearly. By instilling an ethos of work/life harmony that allows employees to take care of responsibilities outside of the workplace, you help free up their mental energy to focus on work when they sit down to get stuff done.
Technology has enabled this. The messaging tool Slack has been a game changer in my business by bringing employees and contractors together into important conversations that are documented for everyone in the company to see. Figure out what combination of tools works best for your business to make remote work easy.
4. Insert Pauses into the Day
Modern life encourages a frantic pace. There are so many different ways to be reached at all times — messaging apps, social media, texting, email, and the phone. Despite the ease of communication, we don’t always have to be “on” just because the technology allows it, and in fact evidence suggests multitasking isn’t good for your brain.
I’m a big believer in taking two minutes to reset before the next phone call or meeting, and I encourage my employees to do the same. Not only do they appreciate that the business does not demand them to constantly be racing, but it is ultimately better for the business because it encourages employees to be more present and bring the right amount of attention to their interactions.
The key to creating a business people love is to foster an environment employees love, which will set you up for great customer interactions and promote the passion and value you probably went into business for in the first place.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.