Our team has expanded considerably over the last two years, with new developers, support consultants, sales and marketing team members. It’s brilliant news but, as other small businesses might recognise, with significant growth comes concerns about retaining your company culture.

Generally, small businesses feel like a family. With only a few members of staff, everyone pitches in and cultivates a sense of togetherness. In-jokes, chats over a cuppa and knowing the dates of everybody’s birthdays are often the norm. So, when that team expands, thoughts naturally turn to how this state can be maintained.

When recruiting, you’re likely to have a cultural fit in mind – not just in terms of experience and skills but also elements of character. Finding people who’ll engage with your company values and culture is incredibly important, particularly for a small team. However, building a diverse workforce is also essential.

For a growing company, a real mix of backgrounds, experience and perspectives are vital to help shape a product, launch a marketing campaign or stage an event. A range of personalities can also help keep a happy balance of doers and thinkers, extroverts and introverts, leaders and followers in the workplace.

So how does all this link to our pool table?

Well, everyone here is very different: we have working parents, team members from different countries, part-time staff, work placement students, an apprentice, graduates – the list goes on. Each person brings a unique view point and set of skills to the team. We’re very fortunate because everyone, from our first employee to our most recent hire, is simply so nice. And everyone shares the same vision – to help continue to build the company and deliver 101%.

Oh yes, the pool table.

Everybody here is lovely – tick. We have a diverse workforce of brilliant minds – tick. But as we grow, and with some people working remotely and others working part-time, it becomes even more important to keep everyone feeling connected. We work hard to retain a sense of togetherness, from team socials to monthly team meetings. We operate a flat management structure, and promote transparency and sharing, so that the development team understand a bit about what the finance team are working on, and HR can find out about upcoming sales and prospects.

Sorry – getting to the pool table!

So we have these formal practices to maintain clear channels of communication and to ensure everyone feels involved. But it’s also the little things that really contribute to our open and happy company culture.  We have a pool table in the office, and every lunch time, just for twenty minutes or so, anyone who wants to join in can play – each person starting with three points with one lost per missed shot. Generally, everybody from our MD to our (paid!) intern plays.

So what is the point of this post?

And why is the pool table more than a pool table to us? It’s because it embodies the unity of our team. Because almost every lunch time (work permitting), we come together to cheer good shots, help those less skilled (e.g. me) and generally talk nonsense. Akin to cakes on a birthday and Domino’s on a Friday, it’s these little gestures that demonstrate how much we care about our colleagues and this company.

These are things that other growing businesses could start to embed into day-to-day working life. Try to recruit one of your team as your ‘company champion’ or social secretary. Instead of just relying on the annual Christmas party to get everyone together, suggest a lunchtime spent at the pub (with soft drinks) every now and again. Start small – sit at the lunch table together once a week, or make every third Tuesday of the month doughnut day. They’re little steps, but can turn into huge leaps for employee engagement and retention.

Even if you’re a technology company like us, it’s all about the human touch 🙂

Find out more

The 5 ways you can improve your company culture

How a cup of tea represents our company

The real humans behind Hireserve

Hello to Dan and hello to Rob

How an office dog can help workplace stress

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.