Developing a company culture where employees actually want to come work for you is every small business owner’s dream. Particularly in a competitive job market, where employees have the advantage, You may think that being a small business means that you’re unable to complete with the Google, Amazon and Zappos of your industry, but that is simply not true. Here are some best practices from  companies with great cultures that even the smallest business can implement, without any additional budget.

Hire for Company Fit: When you bring new employees into your organization, make sure to consider how they will fit into your existing culture. Even someone with all the right skills will not be productive, happy or engaged in their work without cultural fit. For companies like Zappos, this is their main priority and it has led to greater retention. Take a look at your hiring process. Do you ask questions to help determine cultural fit in your interview process? If not, consider adding some such as:

  • What is your ideal working environment?
  • Tell me about your best boss.

You may also want to add an informal lunch or meeting with current employees for job candidates that you are considering for a position, to see how they mesh with the rest of the team.

Get Employees Involved: Getting employees involved in creating a positive company culture is key to success. Companies like Warby Parker have groups of employees who help plan events and programs that advance the company culture. If you are going to be spending money on a company event or reward program, why not get employees involved and ask what they would like to see? Also, understand that your culture will shift over time. Google understood that it would need feedback from employees as the company grew and evolved.

Rally Around a Common Goal: Make sure that your employees understand the “why” of your company. This is more than just your company mission or values written up on the wall (which is aa good idea as well). Talk about why your company is in business and the impact that employees’ work has on your customers and the community. Shared goals help employees feel like they are part of something bigger than the tasks they complete each day. Southwest Airlines does this with a dedication to customer service and REI does this with a commitment to enjoying the outdoors and preserving the environment.

Encourage Happy Employees to Speak Up: Encourage your employees who are engaged and happy to share what about their job makes them feel that way. This helps you continue to do those things. Also, happiness is contagious. If employees are speaking positively about your company, that will spread. Twitter does just this, which has helped spread their excellent reputation as an employer.

Demonstrate Trust in Your Employees: Your employees are smart and skilled, or you wouldn’t have hired them. Allow these great people the autonomy they need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. Set clear expectations and then trust your employees to get the work done, in their own way. Adobe knew that benefits and perks only go so far and has had a clear focus on allowing employees to have ownership of their work.

We understand that these businesses are large, with big budgets for perks, but many of the things they are doing don’t cost a thing. They simply require a change in mindset when it comes to hiring and retaining employees. Looking for more ideas? Check out our Employee Engagement Toolkit.