Employers often seek cost effective, informal ways to enhance office culture. These strategies usually involve improving channels of communication in very basic, informal ways. But every company is not the same. Small companies have the advantage of creating a unique culture with no visible boundaries. So how can these organizations take advantage of this?

Below are five ways to improve your small office culture.

1. Ask for feedback

Asking employees to complete occasional anonymous surveys about their working conditions and opinions about the job can help an employer determine the level of satisfaction in an office environment. It remains important not to penalize candid responses when a manager uses this method to obtain feedback. Framing the questions in a positive, constructive way can sometimes help produce useful suggestions for improving job performance.

2. Occasional shared office snacks

By placing everyone at ease but not dispersing into a completely casual mode, the manager can delicately raise issues that matter to productivity without casting blame or putting anyone on the spot.

Conducting an occasional shared office snack consumed in an easygoing mode around a conference table offers managers an excellent opportunity to listen to employee concerns in an informal, internal atmosphere. The occasion does not need to rise to the level of an office party, when some workers might focus exclusively on social concerns to the exclusion of work issues. Rather, a supervisor can invite everyone on the team to bring a snack of some type to share during a mid-morning brunch or a mid-afternoon break. By placing everyone at ease but not dispersing into a completely casual mode, the manager can delicately raise issues that matter to productivity without casting blame or putting anyone on the spot. Conducted informally, every month or so, these types of sessions can go a long way towards enhancing a spirit of shared enterprise and purpose.

3. Reward outstanding performance

Extending employee recognition to the level of a monthly reward sometimes motivates capable workers to excel. Typical rewards can vary from something as simple as a signed certificate of achievement for performing a task well to a more tangible token of appreciation, such as a dinner certificate or a personalized gift. The goal involves recognizing the unique or special contribution that an individual has made during a period of time to the group as a whole. It remains important not to inspire employee jealousy during this type of ceremony; supervisors must base their acknowledgment on a recognized accomplishment, not personal favoritism or even seniority alone. By using an objective standard, such as showing up for work on time during a designated period or exceeding a minimum sales quota, a small business can go a long way towards reinforcing the employee’s sense of job accomplishment.

4. Plan an office team-building event

When workers need to cooperate together in order to function more effectively on the job, participating in a special team building event can often assist the process of developing a better appreciation for one another’s work styles, aspirations and strengths. For instance, a business may invite all the employees in a small office to participate in an excursion together to accomplish a specific task. By performing a challenging activity together and then taking a brief period of time to discuss and analyze the way all group members performed (or tried to accomplish) the assignment, the participants can sometimes gain valuable personal insights into their own productivity techniques. Sharing these observations with the group benefits everyone. An example of this type of project might be completing a physically demanding obstacle course at a group retreat facility as a unit and then discussing the event afterwards. Did every employee stop to help a struggling coworker? Could the group have made better time by re-allocating a particular part of the joint task? This type of exercise can offer helpful perspectives about group dynamics.

5. Sponsor a company charitable or civic fund raising event

A small office may improve its culture significantly by engaging in a useful volunteer activity that also generates local community goodwill. For instance, some companies conduct a charitable bake sale and invite members of the general public to support this effort. Others sponsor high school athletic events, or make an effort to send volunteers to give presentations to community groups about company scholarships. All of these activities demonstrate a concern for others and reinforce an employee’s sense that the employer cares about a cause bigger than its own commercial interests alone.

All and all, a happy, cooperative office environment assists productivity. A unique company culture also inspires greater loyalty to the employer, which at the end of the day, is the ultimate goal.

By JP George

About the author

JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, JP has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.

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