by Jonathan Berger, The Staffing Stream
With the millennial generation a dominant force in the work world, having a top company culture is more important than ever. This fast-growing demographic is more apt than ever to job hop and seek immediate gratification. Benefits, salary, location and job-growth are all important for this workforce, but at the end of the day, company culture is the grounding element for retention and company growth. Two formidable reasons employees leave a company are failure to buy into the company culture and not being assimilated by the culture. With the current war on finding top notch talent, companies that can overcome such barriers to retention and growth will remain ahead of the curve.
Unfortunately, a company’s culture cannot be built or changed easily. It is a long, ongoing process that sometimes requires changing the way managers ultimately act and how workers see themselves and their colleagues and managers. Here is some advice on how to build that culture over time:
1. Constantly reinforce your mission. Almost all companies have a mission, whether it’s written on their website or written on the office wall. To be successful in this area, companies must demonstrate consistent support and reinforcement of that mission.
Action: To reinforce, make sure your managers connect mission statements to team goals and performance reviews. Always come back to the mission at the end of the day when you are evaluating how an individual, team, or product performed. Also, don’t add anything to your mission statement that you don’t really believe in or is untrue just to bolster your appearance. Employees are sharp and will see right through this. An example of a false statement is saying that you value employees who are able to work independently but your company is guilty of micromanagement all the way up to the CEO. Convincing an employee to accept an offer based on false values usually backfires on the company when the employee chooses to leave shortly after they started.
2. Events outside the office go a long way. Sure, every company has a holiday party, but having ongoing events gives employees consistent opportunities to speak to colleagues about work and non-work related issues. A comfortable environment offers inroads to spreading a culture. Not everyone responds to company meetings and formal team updates.
Action: Make sure you have employees from a variety of teams and Sr. leaders at these events. This offers employees the comfort to share their perspectives which lends to wider adaption of shared company values. In addition, create an event that allows employees to meet new team members and expand their boundaries. A sit-down dinner may mean you only talk to the two people next to you that you already know well.
3. Don’t be afraid to get personal. In the digital world jobs are much more integrated into lifestyle. Employees can benefit from experiencing managers as people who care about their work performance and life performance. Employees who feel understood by management are much more likely to seek a more significant understanding of the company and develop a deeper attachment to the company.
Action: Leaders need to take the time to get to know the employees that make up their company. This means getting know them in and out of the office. It’s important for senior leaders to have some understanding of the dimensions and factors outside of work that influence their lives.
4. Make HR proactive by targeting employment issues. Most challenges, issues and questions shouldn’t come up only during the performance review, but in real time as they happen.
Action: Encourage your HR team to seek out conversations in supportive tones and hold ongoing meetings to learn about employee needs before any formal performance review. Organize by creating an employee pipeline with data citing strengths, challenges and agreed upon objectives.
5. Not everyone is going to fit into your culture. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins supports getting all the right people on the bus and all the wrong people off. What he is saying here is, company culture can’t thrive and succeed with people that don’t fit into it. It’s okay to terminate relationships with those that are not going to believe and thrive in your culture.
Action: Figuring this out, unfortunately, can take some time. Letting people go with years of experience or appropriate expertise is not easy, but for the long run it benefits the company and the employee.