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The 2016 Work Local Awards has come to its dazzling conclusion, and Localwise would like to thank everyone who came out to the event. It was truly inspiring to see such a strong local business community sharing their stories and being recognized for their hard work.

After reading through the 1,000+ Work Local Awards nominations,  we have compiled the greatest lessons from the nominees. Our hope is that these learnings can help other local businesses become great employers. Here are some of their keys to success!

Culture

1. Share your passion

As a business owner, you're the leader. If you demonstrate passion for the company’s purpose and mission, employees are likely to emulate that same passion in their jobs.

Amy Fleury, a current employee at Truve, wrote in her nomination, “Alison truly cares about every single person that walks through Truve and shares that passion with everyone she works with....Truve is a very special place to work and I couldn't feel luckier to be a part of it".

2. Keep an innovative spirit

A sure-fire way for your business to fail is to have products/services that become irrelevant. Especially in today’s world, where technology and consumer tastes are rapidly changing, it is imperative to keep up. You should avoid feeling “comfortable” with the status of the company. 

Try to encourage new ideas and ways to continuously make your company or product better. Be sure to listen to your employees’ ideas! It will make them feel more attached to the success of the company.

3. Happy work environment = happy employees

Happy employees are productive employees! They are more likely to go above and beyond if they are excited to come into work every day. It could be as simple as decorating your office or as complicated as resetting the company culture, but it is still vital to gauge your employees’ happiness at work and respond accordingly.

Rachel Pachivas, Manager of Annmarie Skin Care, puts it best when she says, “We strive to create an environment that is loving, friendly, and fun. We spend the most time at our jobs, so why not have them be like a home away from home?”

Team

4. It’s not just who you work for, it’s who you work with

From an employee perspective, one of the biggest ways to find your ideal company culture is connecting with fellow employees. If employees are friendly with their coworkers, they'll be more motivated to come to work and collaborate with other team members. When hiring, you should take into consideration how candidates will get along with the team. 

When there are conflicts among team members, deal with them instead of letting them linger. In short, coworkers matter. At a small business, they should be like a family.

5. Mix it up

It’s often overlooked, but employees and customers appreciate when a business has a diverse workforce. By hiring employees from different backgrounds, you can create an inclusive and inviting work environment that makes employees feel accepted. In addition, people from diverse backgrounds can provide unique perspectives and insights to assist company growth.

A great example of a local business that benefits from a diverse workforce is Global Glimpse. Landen Zernickow articulates, "Their team includes alumni of the program, incorporating beneficiaries' voices directly into decision-making, and covers a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, leading to effectively diverse opinions."

6. Employees must believe in the company as much as you

The business owner is not the only person who should be passionate about the company's mission and purpose. Employee word-of-mouth is the cheapest and easiest way to spread your company's reputation and message, so it is imperative to hire people who have some connection to your product, service, or brand. 

Simply put, if the employees love the company, they'll work hard to make sure it's widely known and successful.

Management

7. Empower employees 

It's important to show employees that you trust them. When you give them real responsibility and empower them to make decisions, they'll be able to do their best work. 

If they feel like they have no power in the organization, they'll start to feel discouraged—and probably start to look for a different job. Try implementing some subtle acts that will motivate your employees, like giving them a break or showing gratitude for their work. 

8. Don't micromanage 

Nothing kills an innovative spirit in an employee like a manager who is constantly tracking everything the employee does. While deadlines and restrictions are important, employees should feel like they have a certain amount of freedom to work in their own way. This freedom will give employees a sense of control and responsibility for their work. Often, this leads to greater output and productivity in employees.

9. Show employees you care

Running a business is stressful and there are a million different things to do at all times. But taking an extra minute out of your day to get to know your employees on a personal level can truly make a difference. Simply ask your employees how their day was or what their interests are. The effects are lasting.

Renee, an employee at The Local Butcher Shop, explains:

"This business has changed my life, and not in the, "I'm now a fad dieter who loves bone broth because someone told me to," kind of way. Aaron and Monica have shown me what it looks like to genuinely care about their staff and their footprint in the community while simultaneously keeping a thriving business. They know each and every one of us on a personal level and care about who we are at the core. They make sure we feel heard while also constantly teaching us and holding a high standard of quality."

Values

10. Clearly define the company's mission to employees

Communicating the company's mission is a way to share your vision for the company. When employees buy into this vision, they are in a better position to talk to customers, friends and strangers about your brand. It also gives employees a sense of purpose for the work they are doing.

Your mission statement doesn't have to be about changing the world. It can be about providing the best customer experience, celebrating local artisans, or highlighting lesser-known wines.

11. The best businesses serve not just the customers, but the community 

By getting involved in community events or local charities, you'll create a favorable attitude towards your brand, both within the community and on your own team. Your employees will feel proud to be associated with your business. Be sure to get your employees involved in the community activities—it's a great opportunity for team bonding.

12. Try to implement sustainable practices

Sustainable practices are increasing in importance, particularly in the local business community. When you show employees that you care about the planet in addition to profits, it sets the tone for a caring work environment and helps you attract better employees.

As Dominic Lucchesi, an employee at the David Brower Center shared: "Every one of my co-workers is dedicated to making sustainable thinking and practices part of daily life. These are some of the most welcoming and creative people that I have worked with. It’s a wonderful feeling to work in a place that is so closely aligned with my personal, professional and creative aspirations."

Extras

13. Little perks can go a long way

Small gestures go a long way to boost motivation in employees. Providing perks for employees on occasion, particularly during a rough and busy work season, is a great way to show employees that you care about them. Perks don't have to be expensive. There are lots of free and creative perks you can offer your employees, such as 'bring your dog to work day' or a team potluck.

14. Provide benefits for employees

Employees are better able to focus on work when their basic needs taken care of, like health, housing, and food. Benefits can include health care, employee profit sharing programs, retirement funds, and paid vacation to name a few. This is a great way to make sure your employees' wellbeing is taken care of, and also a great way to retain employees.

localwise team work local awards oakland bay area Team Localwise at the Work Local Awards | Photo Credit: Janelle Santos

There you have it—the tips to success from the best and brightest local employers in the Bay Area. Try implementing some of these practices in your own local business, and enjoy the rewards.

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