“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We live in a world where change is fast and we can’t control it. Life is stressful and sometimes we feel powerless. Families that were once around the corner, are often either fractured or distant. Even marriage isn’t the reliable safety net that it once was. We are richer than ever before and we buy more goods than any other generation, and yet statistics keep showing that we are unhappier than ever.
As a small business owner you will be working on average 63% more than other workers. Nobody ever became a business owner so they could avoid working hard.
Running your own business stretches anybody’s work-life balance to the absolute limit. And it has emerged that micro-business owners are working an average of 52 hours a week, 63 per cent longer than the average worker.
Many micro business owners are both time and cash-strapped, they need to make the most of every day because the amount of time being squeezed into the working week is enormous.‚ π
When you started up in business and thought about the perfect workplace, what came to mind? For some it may be an office that is full of chitter chatter, smiles and high levels of productivity. Others may see it as employee’s sitting around on beanbags brainstorming ideas in an open office environment. There are some that see a perfect workplace as quiet order with work being done. For me it was everything that I didn’t like in places I had already worked ‚ ¨ I wanted my work place to be fun, challenging, encouraging, developmental and with abundance of respect and loyalty. I don’t go to work to be miserable so why should others‚ π
As a small business owner you can be at the mercy of your employees. You cannot after all control how your employee’s get up each day or choose their attitude or how their day will pan out. This unknown can cause difficulties in a workplace as the different personality types, outside experiences, and choices a person makes can ultimately effect others.
What we can do however is nurture a workplace that many often dream about. From my experience of workplace’s and as a small business owner myself, I have put together 8 tips to build that mythic, dreamed about, idealized workplace from the ground up.
Essentially however, in my opinion, as a business owner the best way to get a dream work place is – treat others as you would have them treat you‚ π
Tip Number Eight
Have a little fun.
Being happy at work includes finding your passion, working toward it and having fun along the way. It’s about the journey as much as the destination. It also includes sharing your passion with others. No one said that you cannot have a little fun and laughter at work. People spend a lot of time working today.
Making the workplace somewhere that employees actually enjoy will ensure people are working to support and deliver your mission. Encourage social activities and fun outside the office ‚ ¨ for those who want to participate.
Include family and friends when possible. In the end, if people know and understand each other, you can build a positive workplace culture.
Here are some things that I have done in the past (beside our PJ day) when working in Business as a Human Resource Professional;
- We had a cake stall in October to raise money for Breast Cancer. Everything baked needed to have pink in it. The items were sold for $1 each and the money went to the charity. The best creation won a paid half day off. We also all dressed in Pink
- In a customer service company that I worked we raised money by having the girls wax the guy’s legs (with permission of course) and for every strip of wax money was donated to the chosen charity
- At Halloween we all dressed up and the best costume won a prize
- I included my children in the fun too ‚ ¨ at Easter time they used to come in with a basket full of chocolate eggs and all dressed up as the Easter Bunny. They hopped around and gave out the eggs. They loved it just as much as the staff did.
- I did the same at Christmas time but gave out candy and Christmas cards instead of chocolate.
- On an employee’s birthday a persons Manager had to buy them a gift (paid for by the company) the rule was it was not allowed to be alcohol or a gift voucher. The Manager needed to get to know the employee and buy a personal gift.
- We used to decorate the office for the season ‚ ¨ there is nothing worse than white walls, white ceiling and soulless lightening.
- New employees were taken out to lunch in their first week with the team so they got to know each other in a more informal setting (paid for by the business)
- Out of the blue and for no particular reason we brought morning tea for everyone. We also did this for breakfast. One morning we hired in an external caterer to make a hot breakfast for everyone. All as a surprise.
- Monday morning’s I always sent out a motivational quote via email and wished everyone a good week ahead.
Here are some other ideas that I have gathered off the internet that you may be able to use in your office ‚ ¨ the main thing about work is to have fun.
- Give a friendly wink and a smile at someone that you know.
- Have a selfie taking competition
- Write a poem during lunch and print out a copy for everyone.
- Make everyone gather for a group photo.
- Compliment everyone that you interact with.
- Ask five people how they are feeling (really listen).
- Bring in a plant for your desk (workspace).
- Bring in stickers that a third grade teacher would have i.e. You are Great,‚ π and pass them out when someone does something good.
- Ask all your co-workers for their best joke. The best one gets a cup of coffee on you.
- Create a show and tell‚ π every Friday.
- Have a child paint the office a picture.
- Bring in your old magazines and put them in the lunch room for someone else to read.
- Celebrate a big contract or completion of a project by having music, dancing and a prize of a dinner for two.
- Wash a co-worker’s car during your lunch.
- Have a dress-up day on a random day (besides Halloween).
- Switch jobs with someone in your department for a day.
- Have a fifteen-minute exercise break for the whole office.
- Write a letter to the most famous person in your industry asking for one piece of advice.
- Have a coloring contest ‚ ¨ it brings back the kid in school‚ π feeling.
- Make a cup of hot tea for a co-worker.
- Give every co-worker a special rock that you picked for them and tell them why they got the rock that you gave them.
- Bring in a board game and play it during lunch.
- Everyone write a thank you‚ π note to their favorite client, customer, or business.
- Do your boss’s or co-worker’s most hated task.
- Bring in face paints and paint employees’ and customers’ faces.
- Create a company song.
- Ask everyone what their favorite animal is and why.
- Bring in Trivial Pursuit cards and ask people questions. If they get it right they win a piece of candy.
No place is perfect, but if you begin with the end in mind and think about walking in your employee’s shoes, you will be well on your way to creating a positive, productive workplace where people are happy to be part of your vision, contributing to your end goal.
One last thing to end the 8 tips to build your Dream Workplace for Small Business owners (get eBook if you have not seen the other 7 tips) is to remember when running a business is to appreciate the ordinary. An appreciation of the ordinary things in life is one of the best gifts we can be given because ordinary things are always there for us.
The perfect green circle of a slice of courgette, the spicy tang of mulled wine, forks laid neatly embracing each other in a drawer, lovely italic handwriting on a letter ‚ ¨ when you look around, you find that everyday is filled with small objects of beauty and order. All we need to do is notice them.
The same applies to our employees ‚ ¨ notice them, acknowledge them and treat them as a person not just an employee.