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How to Make Your Small Business One of the Best Places to Work

How to Make Your Small Business One of the Best Places to Work
Credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

At the turn of a new year, after the parties have ended and we return to our daily lives, people over the world consider how the next 365 days can be even better. We write down our New Year's resolutions and think about what we can to do to improve our health, happiness and prosperity.

The same can be said for businesses of all sizes. January is a time that companies like those on Glassdoor’s lists of the 100 best places to work in 2019 and the 50 best small and medium companies to work for consider what they can do to not only bring happier and healthier employees through the door, but also keep them for the long term.

"For employers, we know that a satisfied and engaged workforce helps drive financial performance," said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, a chief economist at Glassdoor. "Glassdoor Best Places to Work winners are strategically investing in company culture and career growth opportunities, which serves as a major recruiting advantage."

Current and former employees of more than 830,000 businesses review their experiences on Glassdoor, and for more than a decade, those reviews have generated the company's Best Places to Work rankings. To be considered for Glassdoor's annual list, small businesses must have "at least 30 approved reviews and workplace factor ratings" and at least a 3.5 overall rating. The criteria for larger companies is mostly the same, though they need at least 75 approved reviews.

This year's group includes employers across a wide range of industries, including technology, healthcare and finance.

So what common themes can small business owners emulate to create a working environment that ultimately lands them on Glassdoor's list? Here are some of the main takeaways from this year's winners.

When it comes to keeping employees happy, a positive working environment can go a long way. Workers at some of this year's top companies on the Glassdoor list said they ultimately wanted to feel like they were part of a team that cared about more than the job at times.

"Fantastic company culture of 'Happiness,'" said a midmarket account executive with Zoom Video Communications in San Jose, California, about the company. "You feel it every day and you can't wait to come to work because you feel 'cared for.'"

One of the biggest factors that contribute to this type of company culture is work-life balance. According to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works roughly 34.5 hours a week. Assuming the average person works for 50 years, that means they spend approximately 90,000 hours working. Since work takes up so much of our adult lives, it makes sense that the highest-rated companies on Glassdoor's list have employees who rave about a good work-life balance.

A loan officer at NBKC Bank in Kansas City, Missouri, praised the company for its "flexible work schedules" before giving their employer kudos for "always striving to find new and innovative ways to improve the work experience."

Good work-life balance is more than just a perk – it can be beneficial to your employees' health. According to the Mayo Clinic, a poor work-life balance where stress is constantly high could lead to a number of health issues, including high fatigue and a weakened immune system.

Along with instituting flexible hours, companies that want to improve their office culture can invest in other methods, such as engaging with local charities and planning fun activities.

Employers can also spend time with their employees. A project manager at GetUWired in Dahlonega, Georgia, touted the fact that they and their co-workers have direct visibility with senior leadership teams. "[Our higher-ups] take time to get to know each employee on a personal level and provide encouragement and support to everyone within the company," they said.

According to a 2017 Gallup study on the state of the American workplace, approximately 51 percent of responding workers are "not engaged and haven't been for quite some time" at work. One way that companies fail to keep employees engaged is a lack of support or potential advancement within the company.

For one consultant at Pariveda Solutions in Dallas, Texas, the company's ability to carefully lay out expectations that could potentially lead to advancement opportunities keeps employees focused on the tasks at hand. "Our well-defined expectations for each 'level' and an opportunity for promotion each year puts you in an environment where growth is a top priority," they said.

A "mission-driven culture" in the office creates an environment where clear goals push employees toward success, according to Glassdoor. Some of the higher-ranking companies on this year's list scored high marks for setting their employees up for accomplishment.

"The biggest pro of Procore is the opportunity for career growth," said a software engineer at Procore Technologies in Carpinteria, California. "Procore is all about making you better and letting you follow your interests."

By nature, full-time work means your employees will be rewarded monetarily. While a competitive salary and health benefits are important, today's workforce also needs validation.

According to the aforementioned Gallup study, approximately 21 percent of responding employees "strongly agreed their performance [was] managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work." To that end, managers must become coaches who reward their employees' efforts while setting meaningful goals.

"Managers [must] create opportunities to commend their employees' successes – big and small – and address employee performance needs," the study reads. "Managers have to ensure they are using time with employees to recognize good work or acknowledge the value that the person brings to the organization and determine what they need to meet their goals."

One resident services coordinator with Peabody Properties in East Boston, Massachusetts, said their managers are "constantly recognizing and rewarding the hard work and effort given by the employees," making their experience at the company a positive one.

Andrew Martins

Andrew Martins is an award-winning journalist with a BA in journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Before joining Business.com and Business News Daily, he wrote for a regional publication and served as the managing editor for six weekly papers that spanned four counties. He is a New Jersey native and a first-generation Portuguese-American, and he has a penchant for the nerdy.