Sat 12 Nov 2011
If you are a small business owner who operates a business with multiple physical locations, consider yourself lucky. Sometimes a small business grows to the point that the logical next step is creating a presence in more than one geographic location. However, there can be problems with employee motivation and morale with this type of business set up.
The reasons for operating in multiple locations are many. You could be a local restaurant or style salon that starts a chain store or two in other diverse parts of your city. Or you could be a business with an industrial location that manufactures your goods, another retail location that sells them, and a third location to house your office and administration needs.
Whatever the case for having multiple locations, your staff and employees can suffer from being separated and lose that necessary interaction that makes a cohesive and solid company culture.
So what can you do to keep your company unified and share a common culture? Here are a few helpful tips:
Write a Weekly Staff Letter
Having multiple offices can have an isolating effect on staff, even if they are in the same city. Having the main leadership in a distant office with irregular visits or communication can make employees feel like they don't matter or that they just don't make a difference.
If your business has multiple locations, consider writing a weekly staff letter. Hearing from the "Big Cheese" on a regular basis can keep morale high, and your words of encouragement will be very welcome.
Create a Company Intranet
Just because your company operates on separate and multiple geographic locations doesn't mean you can't have a unified computer network. Consider publishing a company-wide intranet that is only accessible by employees logged onto your network.
Your business intranet can have a section for each of your departments. Publish updates and highlights from different stores. Keep a photo directory of employees, and keep employees equally abreast of company news and events.
Hold Friendly Competitions
There is nothing like a friendly competition to spur imagination and enthusiasm among employees in different locations. Consider having a decorating competition during the holidays. Or even a sales competition between your chain locations. And don't forget to organize a softball or other sporting tournament between location employees at the company picnic.
Be Consistent with Policies
Be sure you keep consistent HR policies among your multiple business locations. How does it look if employees at one location get to go home early on Fridays while other offices are working until 5pm and beyond?
Sure, you have to take into consideration the needs of the location. For instance, you may have a manufacturing location that works both day and swing shift or even multiple restaurant locations that are open until 2am. Of course, it's important to set the hours of each office location and keep them.
However, work hours are just an example. Other policies such as attendance, time off requests, holidays (or holiday pay), etc., are just as important.
Why not create traditions that create a sense of family and unity? It could be something as simple as organizing a happy hour meetup one Friday a month. Keeping the company picnic tradition each summer. A quarterly blood drive. A holiday party with carolers. Or better yet, forming a caroling group of company singers. This is a category where you can let your imagination run.
If you have a reason to celebrate, be sure all employees at all locations get to participate. For instance,for your 10 year company anniversary, you want to provide a catered lunch to all employees. Coordinate the catering to all locations, not just the main headquarters. And avoid jealousy by getting fine cuisine catering at home base and sending sandwiches to the satellite shops. Provide the same quality meal to everyone.
Your business is not just selling products or services. It is made up of a company culture consisting of your valued employees and staff. Be sure you take necessary steps to keep your small business culture unified if you operate in more than one location.