Small investments that spur business growth

Most great family businesses start with a small room and the desire to help people. As the company grows and acquires a larger staff, office culture and environment become increasingly important to ensure growth, now and in the future.

“A lot of businesses assume that higher salaries alone will attract the best talent and inspire productivity,” says Roger Zona, President and founder of TPI Efficiency Consulting. “But many successful brands are realizing that simple improvements to the physical office environment and culture have a significant effect on behavior, perceptions and productivity.”

Smart Business spoke to Zona about small changes that can make a big difference.

When it comes to internal changes, how does a company determine where to start and what improvements will make a difference?

Studies consistently show it makes a real difference when employees love the place where they work. It starts with the little things, such as providing essential items like coffee, snacks and bottled water to help employees stay focused and on task. Small investments in the physical environment like a fresh coat of paint, a new chair or proper lighting can immediately reduce stress and affect the output of your company. Upgrading to LED lighting in particular has been proven to eliminate eyestrain and improve performance. Simply adding plants can improve air quality while simultaneously making the physical space more inviting and comfortable for staff and guests.

What other changes should businesses consider aside from physical environment?

An investment in company culture is a great way to invest in growth. For instance, it takes very little funding to clearly define your company culture — one that aligns your staff with the long-term goals of the company and embraces the values you want to convey to your customers. Does your company-wide mission statement still reflect the values of your growing company? Does each department have its own clearly defined values, and long and short-term goals? Are they engaged and inspired to reach these goals? How do you celebrate their success? When employees feel that what they do matters to the overall success of the company they are often much more effective.

Business operations are often broken down into four categories: strategy, people, processes and tools. A growing company should focus on these to ensure business growth. Ask yourself questions like: Are protocols and checklists clearly defined? If not, staff will likely need to check with management more often than necessary to complete simple tasks, resulting in time management issues and a less effective workplace. Does your staff have the business tools needed for optimal success? A combination of proper telecommunications, IT, database and project management tools are essential. Connecting business tools into an effective system allows for clearer communication, accountability and effectiveness internally, and perhaps more importantly adds value to your customers.

How will a company benefit from these types of changes?

The University of Warwick found that employee happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10 percent less productive. That’s a 22 percent swing.

Simple improvements in physical workspace and company culture can go a long way to increase productivity now, with the added benefit of increased employee retention. According to one study, it costs an average of $4,000 above salary to hire a new employee and $7,000 to replace management-level staff. Some studies suggest that the cost of hiring new staff exceeds well over 50 percent of annual salary when you consider the cost of talent searches, temporary coverage, administration, benefits and training. Companies may want to invest more in training and adding to the value of employees already on staff for a fraction of the cost it takes to enroll new talent. Additionally, a happier, healthier workplace will make your company much more attractive to new employees when you need to expand your staff.

With some minor improvements you may find significant profit growth and an increase to productivity by building a culture that seriously considers physical environment and job satisfaction.

Insights Energy Solutions is brought to you by TPI Efficiency Consulting