Besides offering affordable workspace and shared administrative and technological services and resources to start-up companies, a nonprofit “innovation hub” in Manchester has connected with, and now houses, a cutting-edge human resources company also dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed.
On Aug. 1, Cultural Chemistry, a unique service that mimics a traditional human resources department but offers its services at a fraction of the typical cost, moved into ABI Innovation Hub, a non-profit organization and business location that aims to attract, mentor and foster the growth and success of technology start-ups and innovative green companies. The ABI Innovation Hub is located at 33 South Commercial Street, Manchester, the recently renovated former mill yard area that is now a vibrant business community.
The ABI Innovation Hub is a supportive entrepreneurial environment that stimulates the growth of businesses, ensures economic vitality for the community and encourages job creation. Its mission is to nurture high growth startups and create an environment where entrepreneurs have access to the resources, connections, experience, and capital to support the journey of putting ideas into action.
Cultural Chemistry is one of those resources, and its move signifies the advent of a closer synergistic relationship between ABI and Cultural Chemistry to support start ups with mentoring in the area of human capital and process improvements. Once a week, on Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and noon, Cultural Chemistry owner Mirjam IJtsma will hold open office hours when entrepreneurs can discuss their current challenges, getting professional, insightful advice for free.
But as an innovative green company itself, Cultural Chemistry also benefits from its new location.
“The location at the former mill yards in Manchester helps people learn what we do and helps get our mission across how to better manage people. We help small businesses to create a more productive work force, and the new location will therefore help Cultural Chemistry grow and deliver higher quality services,” IJtsma says. “The cool thing is that as small-business owners always wear multiple hats, but do not necessarily have the knowledge to go along with all those roles, they can find answers to their questions all in one location.”
To IJtsma, a native of the Netherlands, the careful accounting, creative marketing, and effective business-to-business strategies typical of American businesses aren’t the only things a company needs to take its product or services to the next level – as crucial as are all of these elements.
Just as important, she says, is an effective “cultural chemistry,” or the fostering of a positive, dynamic, and forward-thinking workplace environment. Instead of simply giving people individualized “jobs” or “tasks,” she asserts, employers and managers should instead be looking to empower workers towards a collective, organizational purpose.
Cultural chemistry results from engaging companies — management as well as labor — to help foster a desire to work towards a common goal. In the process, IJtsma’s unique services mimic what a traditional human resources department might be tasked with, but at a fraction of the cost. The result is an affordable, unique, dynamic look into a company’s most complex inner workings, and the strategies and solutions that can help take it to the next level.
The result is not only a more positive environment; but tangible growth — an average of 30 percent savings and a 40 percent increase in productivity are common.
IJtsma delves into and sees aspects of running a business that other human resources professionals might not see. Her mission: to change how people view HR. She cites employee handbooks as an example.
“You can find most employee handbooks stuck in a draw, covered in dust, something not at all compelling to read. You must ask yourself, ‘Does it back organizational strategy? Does it bring awareness?’ You have to align everything with human resources. It’s not just a compliance issue. And having an effective, relevant, detailed and compelling employee manual is an important step in supporting organizational strategy.”
IJtsma’s focus on employee handbooks caught the attention of the Green Alliance, a business partner of Cultural Chemistry that is a union of local sustainable businesses promoting environmentally sound business practices, and a green co-op offering discounted green products and services to its members.
“Cultural Chemistry is offering significant savings on building or improving your employee handbook,” Green Alliance Director Sarah Brown says in a message to Green Alliance’s 100-plus business partners. “ I know this sounds like something you think you don’t need – believe me, running a small business myself I also felt that way until I started working with Cultural Chemistry. But an employee handbook is an essential part of fostering engaged, productive employees and is a fundamental part of your company’s mission and goals.”
All Green Alliance business partners receive $225 off Cultural Chemistry’s standard rates for an employee handbook and a free review of their existing handbook. IJtsma also welcomes businesses not aligned with Green Alliance to discuss with her how to improve their employee handbook, one step towards building a strong organizational culture.
Green Alliance Green Card holders also can receive a free two-hour consultation with IJtsma, and Green Alliance business partners can receive two consultation sessions with IJtsma on how to most effectively cultivate their company’s unique culture.
For more information about Cultural Chemistry, visit www.culturalchemistry.com. For more information about ABI Innovation Hub, visit www.abihub.org. And for more information about the Green Alliance, visit www.greenalliance.biz.
This article was published by the Portsmouth Patch September 16, 2012. and written by Heikki Perry.