How to Support Employees and Improve Retention With a Strong Company Culture
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We’ve all heard the expression, “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” In this era of Great Resignation, is that really true? Maybe to an extent, but I think there’s something else to consider.
Of course it is important to have capable managers. This is why our group spends so much time helping new managers build the key mindsets and skills they need to be successful. Nevertheless, a good boss cannot compensate for the most important reason why top performers move on.
I’m talking about culture. A toxic culture will always overshadow even the meanest bosses. In fact, there are some of the worst bosses out there because their culture allows them to be successful. The Washington Commanders’ two-decade toxic work culture that has recently come to light is a great example of this. The culture turned toxic after leaders at the top level of the organization ignored allegations of sexual misconduct.
If you’ve seen how many people have fled your organization since 2020, you may have a dysfunctional culture – and I daresay the pandemic didn’t cause the cultural dysfunction in your organization, it likely exposed it. When the people on your team finally saw these cultural vulnerabilities, they decided it was time to step out the door.
So put your energy into nurturing your culture and making sure everyone has an important role to play. To do this, try these engagement techniques that have worked for my business and clients:
See Also: Great Company Culture Isn’t Magic – Take These Steps to Create It
1. Take purpose to the next level… your people
You must have a strong organizational purpose if you want a strong organizational culture. Your purpose is the “why?” behind everything you do A well-articulated purpose can serve as the backbone for all decisions. It also informs people why they should work for you as integral team members.
However, you shouldn’t aim for just one corporate purpose. You must take purpose to the next level by helping each person find their own purpose and connect it to your organization.
Here’s how it works in practice: Our leaders hold regular special meetings for our newest hires. The sessions help participants discover their goals by identifying strengths, values and life-shaping experiences. Once everyone has identified an individual purpose, they can relate it to the purpose of the organization as well as to the work they do every day. The result is a team that feels motivated and connected by a greater purpose.
2. Encourage employees to articulate their work-life balance needs
There has been a lot of talk about work-life balance lately. In the last three years, the boundaries between work and private life have blurred significantly. Accordingly, your organization must put structures and systems in place to accommodate the work-life needs of the team. You can’t do this alone.
Instead of dictating work-life balance parameters to your team members, give them ownership of developing their own work-life balance routines. For example, you might have a group of ambitious people. That’s great, but we all know that ambitious people are notorious for stuffing their plates. Your job is to help them figure out how to appropriately balance all facets of their lives so they don’t risk burnout.
Start by encouraging everyone to talk about their non-negotiable things. This is what every person needs to feel grounded. Some people might say you can check out until 5:30 p.m., others might say you have the option to fit an hour of exercise into the day. The point is that people feel they have enough support to name what they need to lower their stress levels and increase their overall well-being. Teams can then develop workflows to accommodate everyone’s non-negotiables and promote work-life balance.
See also: I created a college atmosphere in my company. Here are 3 ways it increases employee retention
3. Give away autonomy like candy
Individuals feel empowered when they have full authority to make decisions. Your sense of empowerment usually translates to higher levels of commitment. The more accountability and responsibility you can give employees, the more rewarding your environment will be – and the less team members will have to work elsewhere. A Jabra survey of more than 5,000 knowledge workers found that 59% of them believe flexibility is more important than salary and other benefits.
Of course, your company or industry may not be able to allow a lot of flexibility with autonomous decision-making among team members. Still, it’s a valuable exercise to think about how and when to move decision-making from the top levels down in your organization. In my experience, organizations with less autonomy and authority struggle with this shift in mentality. It won’t happen overnight, but we’ve found that with targeted intervention, you can create the right momentum for change.
4. Bring fun into your work
A boring workplace is not one that tends to be tacky in terms of employee retention. On the other hand, a fun atmosphere can lift everyone’s spirits and lessen the impact of inevitable challenges.
No need to bring balloons or bouncy castle. Fun can come in many forms. Company-sponsored social activities, work sports teams, and the occasional celebration can all be fun. It just depends on the composition of your company and its employees. Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, aimed to make his workplace fun and enjoyable, which is why he always offers his employees flexible working hours that allow them to surf during the workday, take classes or just be a parent. All he asked was that her job be done.
And while organized fun is great, the key is to incorporate the fun into the work itself. Never underestimate the power of being a pleasant place to work. Finally, fun can be a big differentiator since it’s as rare as a unicorn sighting in Alaska. Give your people the freedom to let go a little.
They call it the Great Resignation, but to me it seems like a small half-empty glass. It’s high time to stop worrying about the Great Resignation and focus on building a great culture. You will unleash the potential of your people and also the potential of your organization.
See also: Why a Positive Company Culture is Key to Retaining Employees