Want to keep key employees? Prioritize corporate culture

Eighteen months after the start of the battle, businesses continue to grapple with the impact of a vicious virus.

As they do, now more than ever, employers are struggling to retain and hire key staff. And yet, in too many cases, perhaps the furthest removed from the mind of a business leader today is exactly what can stop the mass exodus of employees and stimulate the interest of potential hires.

The health of their work culture.

Specifically, making sure their corporate culture doesn’t suck by making sure everyone treats each other, in every interaction, with respect.

Why is a respectful work culture so important?

Employees, of all generations, want and deserve workplaces where they are respected and validated for their ideas, efforts and contributions, every day.

The reality is that too few leaders make sure their work cultures meet this standard. And when employees don’t experience this post-pandemic norm, fueled in large part by the freedom and autonomy experienced by working from home, they leave. For many companies with a far from healthy and disrespectful work culture, “the big resignation” is real.

Corporate culture: current reality

Chances are, even if your organization is good at many other areas, your work culture doesn’t always make people feel valued or respected. This work environment may not be inspirational or purpose driven, or compassionate, or fun or productive. On a daily basis, this can contradict, and often is, the fundamental values ​​displayed by the company (inclusion, trust, etc.). You see these cultural gaps firsthand and you know your business can do better and be better.

As a leader, you want your business to become a better place to work, a place where top talent really feels like it. But if you’re like the vast majority of business leaders, you don’t know where to start.

For many senior executives, not knowing how to change the culture and prevent the best talent from going elsewhere is a challenge.

The point is, no one has taught us to proactively manage a work culture that values ​​respect and results equally – in other words, a work culture where good comes first. Until recently, no one ever asked you to actively manage the corporate culture – and maybe you never thought it was necessary. But today, this detached, reactive rather than proactive approach to corporate culture is decidedly outdated.

Since social age thinking replaced industrial age “best” practices, the way we think about corporate culture has changed dramatically. Most notably, we realized the importance of intentional and focused cultural leadership. In the midst of an ultra-competitive post-pandemic period – where employees are leaving unsatisfactory positions in record numbers – intentionally creating a culture of respect is a high priority for any self-aware leader.

Corporate culture: what’s the next step?

When working from home became the norm for many and firing for too many others, the pandemic has given many employees the opportunity to reflect on what is most important to them. It gave them a moment to redefine life’s priorities and reconsider what they expected from their employers.

Result: business leaders should be worried.

Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey found that 55% of Americans say they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. The survey also found that nearly twice as many Generation Z (77%) and Generation Y (63%) workers as Baby Boomers (44%) plan to look for a new job. In addition, 45% of Generation X workers will join this hunt.

Now, as many of these worried leaders realize, culture change is crucial to effectively preventing top talent from handing over their badges as we move towards a post-Covid world where the ‘old normal’ is not good enough. . For current employees with reorganized priorities and potential new hires, a culture change is undoubtedly necessary. Or your business won’t be able to attract, retain and celebrate talented and engaged players of all generations, the high-level players needed to help your business excel.

As the leader of your team, department, or organization, you can completely change this all-too-real post-pandemic reality.

However, you must first develop a new leadership mindset. This mindset requires accepting that managing for results is half the chef’s work. The other half: Manage respect in your work culture.

Create a determined, positive and productive work culture

There is a proven process, including the required practical tools, that the world’s best leaders use to co-create a workplace where people expect respect while driving results. Through a carefully crafted process of cultural refinement, they nurtured working cultures that are not bad. They have developed workplaces that people find not only civil, but innovative, rewarding, productive and even fun.

These leaders:

  • Define a work culture that prioritizes good, valuing respect as much as results.
  • Create a workplace where trust is contagious, validation is pervasive, and growth, both personal and professional, is constant.
  • Create a service goal that ensures fair treatment of all stakeholders (not just shareholders).
  • Monitor, measure and reward alignment with agreed standards of behavior.
  • Show current and potential employees that the leadership team cares about the world outside at work and proactively helps resolve local and global issues such as inequality, poverty, health crises and climate change.

Yes, these are noble goals. They are also the heart and soul of a determined, positive and productive work culture.

More than that, these are proven, tangible steps business leaders can take to attract and retain top talent. This mindset, in turn, dramatically improves customer service levels, increases employee engagement, and generates higher levels of productivity and profits.

Stop watching key employees leave. Stop leaving the corporate culture to chance. Instead, make sure the good comes first in your workplace by making respect just as important as results.

  • Chris Edmonds helps leaders create and maintain meaningful, positive and productive work cultures. Chris is a sought-after speaker, author and executive consultant. He is the founder of The Purposeful Culture Group. He is one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Speakers and has been a featured South by Southwest presenter. In addition to being the author of Amazon bestselling The Culture Engine, Chris is co-author of the upcoming title, Good Comes First: How Today’s Leaders Create an Uncompromising Company Culture That Doesn’t Suck. Chris’ videos, blogs and podcasts are available at DrivingResultsThroughCulture.com.


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