Amelia Herring

Company Culture: Retaining employees in the new economy

Company Culture: Retaining employees in the new economy
Amelia Herring
Company culture is a critical driver of business success- if your workers are unhappy, your business will be, too.

There’s no doubt that we still face challenging times in the workplace…. employee engagement levels are at record lows, and the levels for top performers and high-potential employees have fallen the furthest of any group.

Surveys reveal that 60% of employees plan to leave their current employer within a year, and another 21% are actively preparing to leave.  Regardless of the size or scope of your organization, you can’t avoid addressing these issues without seriously risking the health and sustainability of your business.  Here are a few ideas to help you avoid the risks and successfully remedy your company culture.

The Impact of Company Culture

Randstad’s Work Watch survey revealed that company culture is a critical driver of business success.  In fact, two-thirds of employees believe that company culture is very important to the success of their organizations, stating that it has the greatest impact on their morale and productivity.  While improving company culture may be the secret weapon to retain workers and increase productivity and morale, it has been severely impacted in the last couple of years.  With layoffs, reduced benefits and wages, morale has suffered and many workers are feeling disengaged from their employers.

You need to focus on regaining employee productivity and igniting performance.  Randstad has found that company culture is often an overlooked opportunity to jump start business improvements and should be treated as a critical component in your overall business strategy.  Why is it so important?  The Brookings Institute reports that as much as 85% of a company’s assets are now created by intangible resources such as human institutional knowledge and talent, so your employees have become a very significant asset that you’ll want to nurture and develop.

The keys to a better culture begin with benchmarking the current culture: how it is defined, what it means to employees, and what your organization would like it to be.  The Randstad survey revealed that the top two factors critical to positive company cultures are employee attitudes and effective management.  Other important elements include:

  • Strong trust relationships
  • Customer focus
  • High accountability standards
  • Commitment to training and development
  • Compensation and reward programs
  • Support for innovation and new ideas
  • Useful resources, technology and tools
  • Emphasis on recruiting and retaining outstanding employees

Appreciation Changes Everything

A little appreciation, guidance, and feedback from leaders goes a long way in keeping employees motivated and on the job, according to a survey conducted by Kelton Research.  Just over half of workers said that aside from compensation and benefits, being appreciated would motivate them to stay in their current position, and 46% said they would rather be appreciated than have an opportunity to advance their career.  Escalating workplace demands have created environments where employees don’t feel they are valued appropriately by superiors, and employers are overlooking simple solutions to improve employee morale and loyalty.

Companies seeking to avoid turnover need to close the communication gap and empower employees to perform well in their roles.  Achieving that goal begins with getting the right people into the right jobs and helping them to succeed, yet the survey found that in the last six months:

  • 68% complain that they haven’t received useful feedback from their supervisors
  • 82% have not established their career goals with their superiors
  • 53% haven’t felt they have a clear understanding of how their role contributes to the company’s objectives
  • 25% have been given new duties or responsibilities that are outside of their skill set

More than half of workers said that their colleagues appreciate them more than their supervisors or company executives.  Providing employees with goals, direction, and progress feedback are quick, easy and no-cost ways managers can improve morale and business results.

Recognition is Always Essential

And don’t let up on your use of incentives or recognition.  These cost-efficient motivational programs are excellent vehicles for delineating what’s important to the company, aligning the workforce behind corporate priorities, and increasing productivity while delivering a solid return on your investment. Research and case studies prove unequivocally that incentive and recognition programs improve the corporate bottom line and your brand reputation, and employees are far more productive and loyal when they are recognized.

While these programs are a very positive experience for employees, it’s the employer who gains the most in the increased revenues and cost-savings they can generate – including saving you from the costly exodus of your best employees.  By recognizing workers who are achieving their goals publicly, you not only increase their individual engagement levels, but you reinforce desired workplace behaviors and morale for your entire team.

Every company benefits from the advantages of a more engaged workforce, and it only requires a modest investment of time and resources.  A study by The Corporate Leadership Council provides a small sample of the compelling data on the business benefits of engaging your employees:

  • Increased employee commitment can lead to a 57% improvement in their discretionary effort
  • Greater effort produces a 20% performance improve­ment
  • A 20% raise in employee satisfaction produces a 42% raise in the company’s financial performance

In order to succeed today – and in the future – companies must provide their people with a sense of sustained purpose and engagement to achieve their organizational goals and to help employees realize their personal potential as well.  Recognition is an excellent and valuable tool to achieve both because it accelerates what you’re trying to accomplish.

As we all struggle to shake off the remnants of the recession, we need to leverage motivation and communication tools to help us recover sooner rather than later and give us every possible competitive advantage in the marketplace.  Companies who are short-sighted about engaging their workforce will likely continue to find they are disappointed with what they get from their workers, and may even find a good percentage of their best talent abandoning ship in the near future.

What have you found that works – or doesn’t – in keeping your employees motivated and performing at their best?

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