Culture is key to retaining, recruiting employees

If you were asked what the single most-important factor is in attracting and retaining top performers to your company, what would your answer be? Wages? Benefits? Time off?

What about your company culture? Is culture really that important to the success of your business?

The short answer is yes.

I recently met with Mike, who is a 32-year-old engineer here in the North Bay. He's had a lucrative career over the past eight years, and his skills are, like so many, in high demand.

But he recently left his high-paying job that offered great benefits and flexibility for what he felt was missing: employee culture.

“In my previous job, everyone worked really hard, but no one talked to each other,” Mike said. “The focus was come in, get your work done, keep your head down, and go home. After a few months I found myself getting really fatigued and dreading going into the office. One day I was reading an article about celebrating successes and motivation to keep doing your best work, and all of the sudden it clicked for me. Not once in my time at that job had my boss recognized my hard work or celebrated a success with me, despite me continually pointing them out. It made me realize that the reason I was tired and dreading going to work was because my need for collaboration and recognition weren't being met.”

Mike is not unique in his situation.

Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed locally said that they would rather work for a company with a great culture and feel in lieu of higher pay and benefits.

The good news is, a lot of the things companies can do to build a culture that attracts and retains talent, don't significantly impact the bottom line. A supportive culture, purpose beyond financial success, transparency and inclusiveness are all things companies can do to help build a place that people actually want to work at and look forward to going to every day.

So what's different in a culture that attracts and retains talent?

Mike explains, “When I arrived to my first day of work at my new job, my cubicle was decorated with a giant welcome banner. The employees had arranged a potluck for everyone in the office to meet me and get to know me. My new boss established regular check-ins with me and recognizes when I accomplish something and will celebrate those victories with me. He doesn't pander to me or patronize my good work but conveys a real appreciation for what I do. I recently left work after a very long day and remarked at how energized I felt. Even though I had put in a lot of hours that day, I felt that my accomplishments were valued and appreciated and it made me want to do more.”

Mike's situation is one example from an employee's perspective. On the employer side, we constantly talk to employers who are losing people and having a hard time attracting then retaining the people that they need to be successful now and in the future.

Which is why we developed a program called Culture Insights that gets the client to focus on six key angles to support their team: purpose, mission, values, culture, human resources and employee benefits.

Most companies start with employee benefits as the first thing they need to tackle when in reality, it should be the very last.

When we survey employers, including our own company, we have found that people rarely comment on the benefits offered. Participants overwhelmingly comment on their corporate environment, lack of clear purpose, mission and values.

Transparent communication is a big item that comes up repeatedly - I can't stress enough the value of taking the time to dialogue and discuss situations within a company for greater understanding and better production. Benefits and compensation are just one piece of the attraction and attention puzzle. If it stopped there, nobody would look for a job and everyone would want to work for you.

At the end of the day, employers need to attract the people that will fit well into their organization, if they want to be and remain successful. Getting to know and working closely with your team will allow you to not only make full use of their best assets but also give them a sense of skin in the game and increase their dedication to your company and business interests.

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