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Why Small Businesses Must Create Empowered, Creative Workplaces Now More Than Ever Taking on challenges with new strategies allows for unexpected benefits for growing small businesses. Here are a few to consider.

By Summit Ghimire Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Small business leaders recognize the persistent challenges faced as they strive for stability. Determination, strategy and sometimes a little bit of luck get them to the other side, now an established organization with firm footing and stable futures. That challenge is often the motivation that fuels them as they guide their startups.

SMB leadership knows that to succeed, they must be willing and able to adapt to the perpetual evolution of their industries and the varying impulses of their customer base. An agile and responsive leadership strategy creates a workplace culture that welcomes challenges and eschews defensive stagnation born of stubbornness and fear. Now more than ever, the power of positive workplace culture and the new forms it takes are integral to positive growth.

Related: Empowering Your Team Should Be a Top Priority. Here's How to Start.

The workforce continues to evolve

To put it mildly, the business sector has undergone significant changes over the last several years. For small businesses, this evolution has amplified consequences. Creating a positive and successful workforce requires significantly more than ever before — leadership will see these results when they invest time and capital into:

  • Ensuring an open, inclusive environment
  • Equipping employees with cutting-edge technology and resources
  • Competitive pay and sufficient benefits that are reflective of seismic economic shifts
  • Flexibility in their hours and work schedules
  • Flexible work setups, including in-person, remote, mobile and hybrid options

Related: The Great Resignation Is Shifting Gears. Finding a Proper Work Balance Will Pay Dividends.

Individual employee adaptability delivers a competitive advantage

The question then becomes how you wield adaptability effectively, arming senior leadership with a competitive advantage. Integrated effectively, this leadership characteristic can seep into workplace culture, creating a myriad of positives. A shift towards the recognition, role and capabilities of individual employees has a powerful impact on workplace morale and productivity. Similarly, shifting the standard operating practices of your teams must move towards individuality.

To succeed in competitive and unpredictable industries, company practices need to shift their focus to the many parts of departmental or team goals, and not just the core directive. Every industry experiences hypersonic and seemingly relentless changes and advancements, reflecting today's socioeconomic realities.

Small businesses need to focus their team members on mastering the individual aspects of their primary directives. Doing so enables them to shift or evolve each individual's parts of the puzzle as changes naturally occur, learning new skills and strategies as cohesive teams.

The undeniable impact of positive, creative work environments

Delivering a positive, fun and creative work environment has become crucial for businesses wanting to attract and retain effective workforces. When a small business invests the time and effort to connect with and understand today's workforce, this highlights its commitment to being competitive and adaptive. Current and prospective employees want to believe their employer recognizes the need to be nimble and reflexive as their workforce continues to experience greater self-expression and identity.

Data continues to reflect the power of an open and creative atmosphere. When employees experience a trusting and innovative work environment, their work satisfaction and productivity increase, impacting their work-life balance. The betterment of their individual work-life balances has a direct impact on their mental and physical health. Such beneficial results naturally fuel and inspire greater productivity and happiness within the work environment.

To encourage a creative workplace environment, take the time to connect with employees and discover what inspires them, integrate their interests into workflows where possible (celebrating individuality and unique contributions along the way) and recognize your employees on an individual basis, with personal awareness of their achievements, reflects heartfelt respect and appreciation.

Learning how to make a work environment more creative goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to a happy workforce. Companies must be willing to evolve with the times, from experimental work schedules to non-traditional work setups, a focus on inclusivity and awareness, proactive employee recognition and more. New approaches to the workplace include hybrid work setups, four-day work weeks, co-working spaces and unlimited vacation time, all of which small business owners can consider.

Related: 4 Keys to Grow and Scale Your Startup

Investing in the happiness and well-being of your team leads to success

When employees operate in a work environment that naturally encourages and fuels creativity, they're experiencing the freedom to approach tasks with an open mind. They can tackle assignments in new ways, with the inherent potential of discovering greater efficiency in methodology and a higher quality of service or product.

Those employers engaged in the viability and stability of a positive and creative work environment are actively fueling a higher level of work-life balance for their employees. They are the businesses nurturing a company culture their peers will be wise to emulate.

Summit Ghimire

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder & Head of SEO at Outpace

Summit Ghimire is the founder and head of SEO at Outpace. He has experience optimizing websites for both small and enterprise businesses. His passion for SEO and conversion-rate optimization comes from successful campaigns working with hundreds of clients across verticals.

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