Steps to Improve Employee Accountability in Small Businesses

Steps to Improve Employee Accountability in Small Businesses

In the world of small businesses, the line between success and failure often hinges on the thin veil of employee accountability. Especially for industries that predominantly rely on part-time or freelance staff—such as fitness centers, salons, and other schedule-centric business models.

Keeping customer service and business standards high can be challenging, to say the least. But when it comes to making a success of any business, it comes down to the efforts of the entire team and even the company culture.

Improving accountability in the workplace is one of the most effective ways to improve your service and workplace morale.

So let's delve into the concept of accountability in the workplace and find out the steps you can take as a business owner to ensure your team's performance is aligned with your organization's goals.

What Does Accountability Mean in the Workplace?

Accountability, at its root, is about responsibility. By grounding employees to acknowledge and take ownership of their actions and decisions, you empower them to feel responsible for both the business performance and their own personal and professional development.

It also weaves an ambiance of trustworthiness and transparency that empowers team members to responsibly undertake their tasks, free from fears of unfair repercussions.

This is especially the case for employees who might be either starting their career journeys, or perhaps using your business as a stepping stone in their development. Which often means younger, outsourced or part time employees.

improve employee accountability by giving clear expectations

The challenge of improving employee engagement can be a challenge for many business owners. And while most employees are aware of their importance as the face of the business, poor employee performance often comes from a mixture of poor communication, undefined company culture and even lack of confidence.

But what does it matter to your business or the workplace culture?

What Benefits Does Workplace Accountability Deliver?

Encouraging individual or team accountability promotes confidence and a stronger work culture, leading to improved overall performance of your staff.

In short, less micromanaging and more employee accountability leads to better performance.

People want to feel like they are doing a good job at work, or perhaps even making a difference. And by taking responsibility for their own actions at work, and not just passing the buck to a manager, people do feel like they are contributing to the organization's success.

In fact, cultivating better accountability within your workplace promotes a more synchronized and effective team. And their heightened productivity can mark the difference between success and failure for small businesses.

One study by the ASPA (American Society of Public Administration) even found that there is an association among measured levels of accountability, autonomy, and organizational performance.

But what does this really mean in the context of your business?

The Importance of Business Culture

We've all heard about nightmare workplaces, where there are conflicting standards applied, lack of responsibility taken by employees for the company's failings or even the danger of a toxic workplace.

All of these come down to the business culture, which is often a result of both the management skills of your leaders, and the personal accountability of the staff.

Staff who don't feel connected or engaged with a business are less likely to care about negative business outcomes as they don't feel that they need to accept responsibility. In these cases, it's "someone else's problem".

This can be an additional problem where you rely on the autonomy of your staff to deliver a high level of service, but they are not incentivized to deliver a high quality service. This can be a problem in some sectors such as hospitality or service based businesses, where the pay can be low and the hours and workload high.

While understanding and enforcing the concept of accountability can seem like a daunting task, there are ways to manage it.

help your employees with their personal progress and improve accountability across the entire team

Given the distinctive nature of part-time and freelance work engagements, such as diverse schedules, irregular physical presence, and the lack of a conventional '9-to-5' structure, business managers might need an innovative and comprehensive approach towards enforcing accountability.

Before we find out about the steps to increase accountability in the workplace, let's find out about the 5 C's.

What are the 5 C's of Accountability in the Workplace?

When it comes to giving your staff personal accountability, or even improving their employee engagement with your business, it helps to know what are the 5 C's of business accountability.

These five traits—Commitment, Courage, Cognizance of Duty, Capability, and Consistency—help to define, outline and enhance accountability among your staff.

1. Commitment

Accountability starts with commitment—an inviolable pledge to the job. Employees who consistently go above and beyond prove that they fully comprehend their responsibilities toward their respective roles and the business.

Encouraging commitment is especially tricky when it comes to part-time or freelance workers, as their engagement with the business might not be as intense as that of full-timers. Regular communication—via team meetings or digital check-ins, even feedback sessions—can keep them involved and dedicated to their roles.

2. Courage

The courage to admit to errors is not a weakness. Encourage your employees to view mistakes as natural side effects of growth and learning. This approach fosters a supportive environment conducive to personal development and greater accountability.

A salient setback with part-time or freelance staff is their reticence to admit errors, mainly due to the fear of losing future work opportunities. Building a culture that views mistakes as stepping stones towards improvement can effectively address this issue.

3. Cognizance of Duty

Clear comprehension of roles and responsibilities is crucial to cultivating accountability. Each team member should understand their importance in the larger scheme of things and strive to meet these expectations.

For part-time or freelance staff, it becomes essential to outline tasks clearly. Use business management tools such as Arbox to schedule tasks and communicate the significance of their role within your organization.

4. Capability

Knowing your duties is irrelevant if individuals lack the abilities to perform them. Giving staff professional development opportunities and training can bolster their capabilities alongside improving their sense of worth within the organization.

Often, businesses tend to overlook the need for regular training programs for part-time, contract or freelance staffers. But, investing in their skill development can enhance their performance, leading to overall business growth.

5. Consistency

Accountability thrives on consistency—the ability to replicate good performance. Your staff should not only meet job expectations but do so consistently.

Drilling consistency may need more focused efforts for part-time and freelance staff. Performance monitoring tools can help track their work routines and provide vital insights to aid in reinforcing consistency.

foster accountability in the workplace with business management software

Using the 5 C's of Workplace Accountability in Your Business

If you want to increase workplace accountability and improve employee morale, you'll need to provide clear expectations and ensure the company's culture allows for communication.

You want to let your employees feel confident that they won't be penalized for a wrong decision, or that at the very least, they will have the necessary resources to either improve or receive meaningful and constructive feedback.

Clear Communication

One of the most important elements of any healthy workplace culture is easy and open communication. Employees need to feel like they can raise concerns or address issues with their managers, or that they can get meaningful feedback on their performance, good or bad.

Regular team meetings are the best way to do this. But there are other ways to communicate with the team including:

  • One to one meetings or appraisals
  • Digital communication
  • Being available at specific times or places

If you want to create accountability, you need to make it clear what your staff are accountable for. This is also key to employee growth and helps to develop your organization's culture.

Arbox helps to send positive feedback for a job well done, as well as manage individual and team schedules. And with easy to manage task management boards, you can ensure your team understands their own responsibility and individualized goals.


No-one wants to feel like they're just a cog in the machine. One of the worst aspects of toxic workplace culture is excessive work schedules. And excessive work can contribute to negative performance metrics such as bad reviews, lost custom, missed deadlines and general burnout.

Ensuring your staff are treated like humans and that they are given a manageable work capacity is key to both productivity levels and building accountability.

If people feel like they can deliver the best version of their service, and feel like they're making a difference, they're more likely to accept responsibility for their actions. Both good and bad.

Managing team schedules with scheduling software such as Arbox means you minimize the chances of calendar clashes, and also track individual and team performance.

Data Analysis

When looking to promote accountability, you need to analyze business performance with a view to improving the workplace. Business management software tools now give you plenty of insight into everything from finances to staff performance.

By using this data you can analyze business results, see who is giving the best service and use this data to help improve accountability in the workplace.

And even if there is poor performance, you need to be open about how to improve the problems and give your staff actionable feedback.

You should also make sure to give positive reinforcement for good performance, allowing your employees to also feel accountable for hitting their KPIs too.

avoid poor performance and celebrate accountability

Methods to Improve Staff Accountability

Enhancing staff accountability, especially among part-time or contract employees, requires a combination of clear communication, stable feedback mechanisms, effective use of digital tools, and consistent reinforcement practices.

Defining Roles Clearly

Clear role definitions and expectations can mitigate accountability issues. Ensure new employees are briefed on their roles, send regular communication and feedback and use Arbox business management software for regular follow ups with your team such as weekly stats or data.

Setting Achievable Goals

Well-defined, realistic goals provide a clear roadmap for your staff. They enable employees to understand what's expected of them, offering them clear milestones to strive towards. And when we have goals to aim for, it is easier to accept responsibility for them.

Offering Performance Feedback

Regular feedback—both positive and constructive—facilitates staff engagement and accountability. Performance feedback helps staff understand their strengths and areas of improvement, and offers a clear direction for their professional growth.

Rewarding Responsible Behavior

Encourage accountability by rewarding employees who embody the 5Cs of accountability. Whether buying them lunch or simply highlighting performance in your weekly newsletter... This recognition will motivate other team members to adopt these practices too.

Use of Software

Digital platforms like Arbox play a crucial role in improving accountability. They allow tasks to be defined clearly, offer tracking of performance, and efficiently integrate feedback mechanisms.

Read our guide: Improving staff efficiency with software.

Using Arbox to Improve Accountability in the Workplace

Accountability is more than just a managerial term—it's a culture. By fostering an environment of trust, fairness, and continuous learning, small businesses can thrive on accountability, regardless of the composition of their workforce.

As the business owner or manager, you have the power to demonstrate accountability by using the proper resources to get the job done right.

The right tools can greatly improve business performance and contribute to the best results of your high performing teams.

Arbox business management software is designed for businesses who need to manage a diverse team or schedule clients. From task allocation, schedule management or automated reminders, to communications and financial management.

Find out how Arbox can improve organizational accountability and team accountability too.

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