Every small business, even those with only a handful of employees, can benefit from cultivating a corporate culture that keeps people engaged and productive while improving business performance.

However, creating a great corporate culture isn’t the type of project that can be accomplished within a specific time period. 

Small business leaders need to consciously plant seeds and put in consistent effort. Over time, these efforts can help to foster the habits and values they want their staff to embrace.

Corporate culture can make your business stronger

Corporate culture should convey how the business sets expectations and rewards desired behaviors. These definitions can be established within a mission statement, the business goals, the brand strategy and even a company logo.

Across all departments, from accounting and finance to operations, sales and marketing, corporate culture plays a vital role in the success of a small business. Corporate culture can have a direct impact on hiring, employee retention, collaboration, policy compliance and communication, as well as the effectiveness of change management.

Maintaining a positive, vibrant working climate can help small businesses to weather economic downturns, staffing and technology changes, and shifts in the marketplace.

It's about more than just sharing the vision

One way that small business leaders can help maintain a positive corporate culture is by including all members of the company when communicating short- and long-term company goals. Employees who clearly understand their company’s strategic objectives will be more motivated to help the company achieve them.

Managers should go beyond simply sharing the vision, however. They also need to show their workers how their contributions support efforts to reach organizational goals. Even startups and other fast-growing businesses still refining their vision should communicate their initial business objectives to employees, and continually update staff members on progress toward achieving those goals.

This strategy can also help to improve retention: When employees understand how they specifically make a difference in the organization, they are more likely to feel valued.

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This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated to reflect more current information.