Organizational culture is a set of beliefs and attitudes about how things are done within the workplace. It’s extremely powerful and sits at the core of everything you do, helping to keep employees motivated and inspired to do their best. It might not be something that you see, hear about, or discuss every day, but your culture is always there in the background, affecting everything that goes on. And it has never been more important than it is right now.
Recent surveys suggest that more than 40 percent of all employees were thinking about leaving their jobs at the beginning of 2021 following almost a year’s worth of pandemic hardship. As time went on, workers began to quit in unprecedented numbers. More than 24 million employees in the United States quit their job between April and September of the same year, setting an all-time record and marking the beginning of the so-called ‘Great Resignation’.
As the Great Resignation continues to keep organizations on their toes, leaders are struggling to understand what’s driving a global mass exodus of employees. More importantly, they’re also looking for ways to retain those who haven’t yet jumped ship… and the way to do this is simple.
Employees Value Values
In the ‘new normal’, people want to work for an employer whose values align with their own. According to a recent study, 35 percent of American workers would turn down a job if the organizational culture clashed with their own values, even if the job was otherwise a perfect fit. It also found that 91 percent of managers consider that a candidate’s alignment (or misalignment) with organizational culture carries as much or more weight than their skills and experience.
In another study, it was suggested that if an organization’s culture deteriorates, 71 percent of employees would look for opportunities elsewhere. It makes sense, then, for businesses to focus on building a strong culture and creating a clear mission if they want to stand the best chance of not only retaining their existing employees but also attracting new talent in an environment where the balance of power has shifted away from the employer to the prospective employee.
5 Tips for Strengthening Your Organizational Culture
A strong organizational culture can be the difference between a company barely surviving and one that thrives, especially in these challenging times. Here are five things to consider if you’re looking to improve your own culture.
1. Be Flexible
Every employee has a different set of unique circumstances and personal needs. While some employees might thrive in the mornings, others do better later in the day. Similarly, some employees require more attention and guidance whereas others will require less.
It’s important to keep an open mind and remain flexible as an employer, especially in the ‘new normal’ we’ve now found ourselves in. At the same time, the challenge is balancing flexibility with the need for everyone to be on the same page with communication, deadlines, and expectations.
2. Communicate Your Values
It’s difficult for employees to work towards your values if they don’t know what they are. Equally, how can an employee feel like they belong to something bigger, and thus be more engaged and productive, if they don’t know what it is?
You need to communicate your values and remind people what your organization stands for, what it’s trying to achieve, and why the organization is focused on certain things.
3. Champion Transparency
A commitment to transparency and openness impacts the entire organization and can help to engage employees. According to the 2020 Engagement and Modern Workplace Report by Bonusly, ‘Highly Engaged’ employees are 2.1x more likely to report working for a transparent organization than ‘Actively Disengaged’ employees.
If you want to achieve transparency and openness, the first thing to do is ensure that you’re making full use of the right communication and collaboration tools. Outdated tools can be a huge barrier to transparency, especially if you’re working remotely or across different offices. In addition, try to make transparency the default internally by asking “Is this something that should be concealed?” rather than “Is it necessary to share this?”
4. Build a Robust Onboarding Process
Onboarding is the first impression that a new hire gets, and it sets the tone for their initial experience with your organization. To say it needs to be robust would therefore be an understatement. To create a robust onboarding experience, think about:
- Preboarding: When you create a strong preboarding experience, you immediately send a signal to a new hire that you care about them.
- Assigning buddies: Onboarding buddies help new hires get to grips with the basics, meet their colleagues, and answer any questions they have. This makes them feel welcomed and supported in their first few weeks.
- Check-ins: Check-ins at regular intervals (e.g., 30, 60, and 90 days) helps to set expectations and develop strong relationships with direct reports as they provide continued support.
5. Encourage Downtime
Eagle Hill Consulting says that 58 percent of U.S. employees surveyed are burned out. Organizational leaders can schedule downtime on the clock to help reduce this burnout, such as team events to reduce stress, increase creativity, and strengthen workplace relationships.
Although there’s no magic bullet or “best practice” method for strengthening your organizational culture, it’s important to make it a priority and make a real effort to do so in order to improve morale, job satisfaction, productivity, happiness, and, ultimately, retention.