Positive Culture and Your Bottom Line

We all want to work in a pleasant environment full of bright, capable people. While many practice managers appreciate the internal benefits of a positive work environment, they may fail to recognize how an outstanding company culture can create tangible, external growth and benefits for your business. When you foster respect and positivity in your workplace, you are investing in the future of your business.

People, Teamwork and Culture

Begin developing a positive environment by building the proper team. Naturally, recruitment is important since finding the right employees is half the battle. As many business owners discover the hard way, defaulting to hiring friends or recruiting in a panic can result in substandard employees who jeopardize company culture. When hiring, look for individuals who have a skillset that is matched to the job description, but are also a right fit for the business overall.

Once you have great people in place, foster a strong sense of teamwork within your practice. Building a healthy team requires you to match employees who complement each other. For example, one employee may constantly brainstorm new ideas, but fail to implement them, while another may be better at implementation than creative thinking. By pairing these seemingly opposite employees, you set them both up for success.

Work also to encourage a culture in which helping coworkers is commonplace regardless of position, relationship to a client, or job description. If you hire passionate and caring people, they will usually go above and beyond to help their fellow employees succeed.

Broader Benefits of Positivity

While creating a positive company culture is rewarding in its own right, there is tangible business value for advisors who focus on this aspect of their practice. A positive work environment lends itself to better employee performance and therefore happier clients. If clients feel that they are in a welcoming space, they will be more inclined to trust you and your practice and develop a professional relationship.

One way I see this play out is through referrals. At my practice, I encourage employees to acknowledge others’ accomplishments and celebrate a job well done. When clients are exposed to this type of office environment, they are more inclined to refer us to their friends and family. There are even cases where prospects we were ultimately unable to help still referred us to their colleagues because of our team’s attention to their needs. Create a culture where people share their good experiences both internally and externally and it will bolster your client roster dramatically.

Lessons from COVID-19

The pandemic has been a big test to sustaining a strong company culture. A company that was flexible and decisive under normal circumstances may have struggled to act accordingly in the new pandemic landscape. But this does not have to be the case. Since many offices continue to operate in a virtual environment, transparent discussions about company values, mission, and what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior are all the more important to maintaining positive culture. This is a challenging time, but also a unique opportunity to come together as a company and follow through on the values and practices you championed prior to the pandemic. This will impress not only your clients and employees, but it will attract new talent and clients too.

Testing everyone in different ways, the pandemic reinforced a collective theme: treating one another with empathy and recognizing everyone will have different feelings and needs during this time. The workplace was no exception to this – in fact, the pandemic has felt like the first time we could ask each other, “how are you?” and really mean it.

Extending respect and compassion to employees affects the way we interact with clients and how they interact with us. Small acts of kindness, like a handwritten birthday card or flowers for a special occasion, can go a long way to make employees and clients alike feel appreciated. We sent our team small gifts at relevant times, including a handwritten note from myself thanking them for their contributions during the pandemic. Clients also often express gratitude for these gestures, encouraging employees to continue exercising quality client service. Recognizing the value behind these small gestures, advisors must understand that they are not only tasked with fitting a client with the right plan, but also facilitating a positive human experience.

If you and your employees do your best work and constantly strive to create a positive environment, the right opportunities and clients will follow. While many advisors maintain the mindset that clients always come first, I encourage you view your employees in exactly the same way. Clients and staff alike should leave your office (or virtual meeting) feeling better after having interacted with the company. If you embrace this concept at work, you will create an unparalleled culture of excellence that translates into significant business value.

David Braithwaite is a 13-year MDRT member and has been a Financial Adviser for more than 25 years. He runs a firm based in Kent, England, as well as other related business. He is regularly called upon by the media for expert comment, and appears often on BBC Breakfast TV, ITV and BBC radio. David contributes various written articles for national and local publications and has contributed to various books worldwide. He has also a regular speaker at various conferences internationally including in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and the UK.