While big businesses have many advantages over small, local companies, there’s one thing that small businesses seem to have going for them—a close-knit, family-like work environment. This seems to come naturally for companies with relatively few employees, and many small-business owners take it for granted.
However, that close-knit environment may have a major impact on employee loyalty.
According to a study published in Local Economy, employees of small businesses have a much higher level of loyalty to their employers. And that loyalty has serious impacts on the businesses, as “higher levels of commitment are associated with less absenteeism, lower turnover and less seeking of jobs outside the company.” Obviously, these are perks any business—big or small—would like to see.
But how can you achieve the “small-business feeling” in a major enterprise with thousands of employees? Here are a few tips that might set you on the right path.
Check in on a Regular Basis
For small businesses, knowing what’s going on in their employees’ lives is more natural. It’s easier to keep tabs on the families, hobbies, and plans of five employees than it is when you have 5,000 employees. And while you obviously can’t expect to know each of those employees yourself, someone in a management position must be checking in on and getting to know each of your workers.
So make weekly check-ins a part of your business model. These don’t have to be formal sit-downs between employees and their managers. Just make sure that managers are having some form of a conversation with your workers each week.
Not only does this help your workers feel more appreciated, but it also allows you to catch wind of any dissatisfaction the employee may be experiencing, so you can try to correct it before they start looking for other employment opportunities.
Hold Regular Team-Building Activities
No, you don’t have to take everyone to a company retreat and make each team member practice “trust falls” with each other. In this day and age, team-building activities can be very short weekly, or even daily, activities that help your employees get to know each other on a personal level. In small businesses, these often occur naturally as workers get lunch in the breakroom or chat over their morning coffees. But in the hustle and bustle of a large enterprise, these moments often get lost.
So, it’s up to you to recreate them. Have each team take time out to let employees get to know each other.
Encourage a daily coffee break for every department, so they can take a few minutes to relax and chat with their coworkers.
Even 15 minutes can work wonders. How does this benefit your business? It allows workers to create friendships, and employees with friends in the office are far more loyal.
Encourage Innovation on All Levels
In small businesses, every team member must contribute to the overall innovation efforts in the company.
For enterprises, this task often gets regulated to an R&D or product development department. But by doing this, you’re not only disengaging your employees, but you’re missing out on some incredible ideas and opportunities. Instead, engage some new innovation management processes in your office to help every employee get onboard. For example, hold a quick 15-minute catch up every week to check in with staff ideas for leading change.
Encourage them to find ways to improve processes and workflows, correct issues in communication, and even develop better products for customers. You might be surprised by what your employees come up with. And even if you get very few outstanding ideas from them, they will still be more engaged, happier in the office, and more loyal to your business.
No matter how big a company gets, creating a close-knit work environment is essential to cultivating loyal, engaged, and hard-working employees. While the tips mentioned above are only the beginning, creating that “small-business feeling” in your enterprise can go a long way towards improving your company.