Small Business Leaders Need To Create Cultures Based On Good

The reality is that the pandemic, for all the tragedy it caused, greatly improved how many of us work. Perhaps even more important: The last eighteen months inspired a change in how people think about work, especially for front line employees.

Working long hours for a near-minimum wage for an old-school manager within a one-sided company culture is no longer acceptable for many. Good people now have higher expectations; their “new normal” has changed.

This change has led to “The Great Resignation.” Finding their replacement has become difficult for many small businesses.

In all regions of the country and most industries, small businesses are finding it difficult to find (and keep) good employees. Many consider this post-pandemic phenomenon a “labor shortage.”

However, the small businesses perceived as great places to work aren’t as impacted as those operations with poor reputations and toxic company cultures. In other words, the good companies haven’t lived the labor shortage narrative.

In fact, many of the best small businesses—and their owners—are benefiting from people leaving less-than-inspiring jobs, leaders and companies. Instead, those people move on to small businesses, like theirs, with company cultures based on the doing of good. And—as we say in Good Comes First—by “good,” we mean good for employees, customers, and the community while also achieving positive outcomes for the business owner and leaders.

And those leaders and owners who refuse to recognize this new normal?

They must adapt—because a tsunami of change, one ready to sweep away valued employees and customers, is coming right at us. As many more workplace complexities come into play, that wave will only gain strength. And it will drown those small business leaders who fail to move to higher ground.

How Small Businesses Compete in the Post-Pandemic New Normal

To be competitive in the future of work—a future that is already here—small business owners must:

  •  Define a work culture that puts good first, where employees can expect respect as they help drive results
  • Craft a servant purpose and establish company values that ensure equitable treatment of all stakeholders (not just the business owners and investors)
  • Monitor, measure, and reward alignment to the agreed-upon company values and workplace behaviors

Yes, these are lofty goals. No, they probably weren’t contained in your original business plan. But these goals—which are imperatives for small business owners in today’s marketplace—are the heart and soul of a purposeful, positive, and productive company culture. They help create a workplace where employees feel their work matters—really matters. As they feel more valued, employees gain a sense of belonging. Soon, they don’t want to work anywhere else. Just as important, they tell their friends and peers that your company provides a respectful, rewarding workplace. The result: You have even more qualified, engaged employees ready to help achieve your business goals.

Let other small businesses, perhaps your competition, struggle to find and keep employees. As they do, you’ll continue to build a company culture where good comes first.

And for you, the labor shortage will be short-lived.

Mark Babbitt is a speaker, author, blogger, culture architect, executive coach, and career mentor. He serves as President of WorqIQ and CEO and Founder of YouTern. His latest book is Good Comes First.