Culture is the best retention strategy you can create.

Culture is the best retention strategy you can create.

One of the most valuable resources a company can have is its employees. When employees are happy, productivity is high, absenteeism and turnover rates are low and the result is an efficiently run company. So, how can companies create happy, productive staff? Well, according to research, the answer may lay in improving your workplace culture…

An article published in The Academy of Management Journal, described the direct link between workplace culture and employee retention. Essentially it (and other, similar research) found the better the culture, the longer people stayed, and the happier they were. A third of job seekers would let go of their perfect job if the workplace culture wasn’t a good fit, and over 70% of workers cited corporate culture as an important factor influencing their decision to work at any given company.

A 2021 survey by Lexington Law found that nearly 70% of Americans value benefits and company culture over salary!

What is company culture? The management textbook Organizational Culture and Leadership defines workplace culture as “…a set of psychological predispositions called basic assumptions held by members of an organisation and which tend to influence the ways in which they behave.” To put it another way, company culture is a unique set of consciously (or unconsciously) agreed upon ways of working, engaging and behaving in the workplace. These spoken and unspoken rules shape behaviours, conversations, how people deal with conflict and, ultimately, influence how people feel about their workplace. It’s these feelings and behaviours which create good or bad company cultures, and the results can make or break a company.

What effect can a bad company culture have and how does it occur? At the heart of bad/poor company culture (also known as a “toxic work environment”) is a disengaged workforce. When employees don’t feel engaged, they are three times more likely to quit, even if they are paid well!

In fact, a lack of engagement is one of the biggest reasons for a lack of employee retention in any organisation and can leave staff feeling depressed.

Too many rules and regulations can also contribute to a bad workplace culture if overdone or taken too far. The fear of making a mistake and punishment can be stifling and lead to resentment.

A lack of opportunity or stagnated career development is a quick way to frustrate a talented employee and it can lead to boredom or lack of engagement. Not sure if you have a bad culture in your workplace? Be on the lookout for:
  • Gossip - gossip can divide staff and create negative, stressful, sometimes bullying-some environments
  • Late or absent staff – staff who are disinterested are not willing to invest any effort into arriving on time or arriving at all!
  • Lazy or disengaged staff – they don’t want to be there so are less likely to be productive and work hard
  • Staff who procrastinate – they are not invested in the success of your company
  • A “heavy” atmosphere at work – a lack of “chit chat, jokes and “water cooler” conversations. A place where there is no laughter and sense of fear in the air can mean staff feel underappreciated.
  • High staff turnover
High staff turnover can be highly detrimental to a company’s success. Not only do you continually lose money associated with recruitment, hiring and onboarding costs, you lose the time, knowledge and training those staff take with them. If you don’t fix your bad culture, it will continue to happen - poor culture affects all your employees!

Is good/positive company culture good for business?

Yes! People spend a significant portion of their lives at work - if they don’t enjoy coming to work because the culture is bad, you won’t get the best out of your staff. Positive workplace culture helps employees to live successful workplaces and personal lives and connects a company to its community.

Creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture can be complex and multilayered but the benefits of improved staff morale and the resulting increased retention rates make it worth investing in.

A key aspect of creating a good workplace culture is making staff feel engaged, valued and that their work has purpose and meaning.
Engaged staff:
  • Work harder
  • Are more likely to be on time
  • Are absent less
  • Display a willingness to help others
  • Display positive attitudes and use positive language to describe their work
  • Result in reduced staff turnover
  • Are more satisfied with their work
Engaged employees report an increase in their sense of purpose and pride in their work and workplace. In turn, this increases productivity, improves staff wellbeing, contributes to a good culture which plays a significant role in staff retention. The benefits of investing in a good company culture are obvious!

Are your employees engaged?

According to a recent Gallup “State of the Workplace” study, no matter what reason an employee listed for quitting -- lack of engagement was one of the most common attributing factors. The more disconnected employees feel, the greater the likelihood of them moving on to a new company. A Gallup analysis shows that the longer people stay at their jobs, the more likely they are to strongly agree they have opportunities to do what they do best every day - a key element of engagement. What does that mean for your company? Essentially…
The longer people stay, the more engaged they are with their work and the more engaged they are, the more likely they will stay – it’s a cycle! Engagement matters to retention, culture and staff wellbeing.
How do you make employees feel engaged? Improving engagement starts with organisations closely examining how they attract, retain, and engage employees. Gallup outlines the following 12 employee needs to feel engaged:
  1. Understand what is expected from them at work
  2. Have the materials and equipment they need to do their work
  3. Be provided with opportunities to do what they do best, every day
  4. Receive regular recognition or praise for doing good work
  5. Someone displaying a genuine care about the employee, as a person
  6. Encourage development
  7. Having opinions heard and considered
  8. The mission or purpose of a company makes them feel their job is important
  9. Opportunities to learn and grow at work
  10. Open, regular discussions about progress
  11. Fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
  12. Having a “best friend” at work.
Many of these can be addressed by creating good company culture. Ask yourself, are you doing everything you can to engage your staff? If you have a toxic work environment, what can you do to start turning it around? Here are our top six tips to start improving your workplace culture today…
    1. Connect staff with your company’s Values.

      Ensure your company Values are relatable, clearly defined, visible and regularly communicated and demonstrated to make staff feel their job is important – this is a key element of engagement and encourages desired staff behaviours and increased retention. Tip: Why not include an overview of your company’s Values in a new starter’s onboarding checklist?
    2. Prepare your leaders and get them on the same page!

      Culture starts from the top. Leaders set the tone and standard for others to follow so ensure your managers are present and actively reflecting your Values in the way they work and engage with staff.
    3. Recognise and reward

      A simple “shout out” in meetings, a thank you card, an award, or a kind gesture to acknowledge good work goes a long way to making staff feel important and engaged in the work they are doing and the company more generally.
    4. Offer professional development opportunities

      Creating opportunities for employees to grow, learn, advance their careers, or learn new skills is a great way to encourage job satisfaction and with it, improve culture and reduce turn over.
    5. Bring people together!

      Creating an engaged community that people want to be a part of, helps build relationships. People often say they stay “for the people” – give them opportunities to grow these friendships beyond every day work. This could involve corporate volunteering programs, group activities like a social club, morning teas to welcome new staff, or dress-up days to support fundraising initiatives.
    6. Offer remote and flexible work options.

      Increasingly, employees are choosing to work for companies that promote flexibility and actively encourage genuine work/life balance. This flexibility in how/when employees make them feel valued, and that their lives matter, outside of work – is a key aspect of helping retain staff and create a positive culture.

Contact one of our HR Consultants to chat about your employee retention strategy. Contact Us