One of the main reasons why employees decide to leave a particular employer is not because of a lack of career advancement or financial considerations, but the culture within the company itself.
Younger workers in particular are likely to consider culture, in addition to how much they are being paid and what the role does for their career prospects.
Poor work cultures can often foster bullying and harassment, staff are micromanaged, and employees feel disenfranchised and disengaged rather than optimistic and engaged. In short, many people leave for a better life that fits their values.
Creating a great company culture is not easy. As a business grows and takes on more staff it can be even more challenging to stay in control of this important part of any operation. And once it goes wrong, it can be difficult to get the ship back on track again.
The Great Resignation
This is a real tangible problem for businesses in all sectors and industries at the moment. ‘The Great Resignation’ began in 2021 and is thought to be a direct result of the pandemic, which gave people time to take stock of their careers and what they want for the future.
According to a survey by Microsoft, more than half of us now prioritise health and well-being over work life and 52% of millennial and gen z employees were looking to change jobs within the next 12 months.
There’s no doubt that a big part of people’s discontent is the culture of the company or organisation that they are working for. Creating a great culture takes time and effort, of course, but it can deliver huge dividends if you can get it right. But where do you start?
1. Taking Stock of Leadership
Culture comes from the top downwards and the roles of leaders and managers within the organisation need to be the first point of focus if you want to change. Top talent may be focused on their careers and remuneration but at their heart, they also want to work for a business that has a culture which matches their values.
Ensuring these values and expectations are aligned at the management level is critical – you can’t expect a great culture to reach down to all employees if those at the top are not engaged and enthusiastic too.
In many surveys, a good culture is often cited as one of the main reasons why employees stay with a particular business rather than move on. If you want to retain top talent and build a productive team, it’s a critical part of the jigsaw.
2. Measuring Engagement
As with marketing and turnovers, you can’t understand how your company culture affects individuals unless you have some form of measurement and understanding. Asking the right questions and interpreting the results regularly should allow you to stay focused on what your business means for the people who work for you.
Important questions include whether staff are proud to work for you and whether they would recommend your business to their friends and family. A more complex survey can help you uncover where leadership and employees are aligned and expectations are being met, whether career opportunities are being realised or staff have the necessary training. This gives you the baseline to work from and the direction you need to take to implement changes.
3. Be Prepared to Rethink
You may be lucky and already have a great work culture. Chances are there will be some aspects of the way you operate that you can change to make things better. If employees complain about a toxic culture then you will probably want to do something about it quickly.
Leadership has to be prepared to rethink and focus on the employee experience rather than constantly worrying about their bottom line. A happy workforce is generally a lot more productive and that feeds into success and growth.
It means treating the workforce as partners rather than assets. Get it right and the changes you make and the culture you create can have a profound effect on your success and future sustainability.