How to Retain Talent Through Organizational Culture

April 2022
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Today’s employees expect increased authenticity and transparency from their employers, a more profound sense of purpose and meaning in their work, greater flexibility and a commitment to well-being.

Employees are leaving unfulfilling jobs seeking organizational cultures that align to their goals and values. This shift is largely fueled by personal reflection and redefined priorities — all of which were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, employees — not employers — are now in charge and competition for top talent during The Great Resignation is fierce. A strong organizational culture that attracts and retains top talent has never been more important. Businesses that focus on cultivating purpose and people-centered cultures rooted in well-being will be better positioned to thrive as organizations shift during the talent wars and beyond.

Aligning to purpose and values

According to Gallup, only 40% of employees strongly agree that their company’s purpose or mission makes their job feel important. An organization’s purpose, mission and values create a powerful framework for nurturing a culture that supports both a business and its employees. 

Building a purpose-driven organizational culture starts with the business recommitting to or shifting its purpose and values in a way that better aligns with employee expectations and its “why” — the organization’s reason for being. 

When companies align on a purpose, mission and values, it serves as a guiding principle for business decisions and organizational standards. People are 78% more likely to want to work for an organization that leads with purpose, according to Porter Novelli’s 2021 Purpose Perception Study. 

A well-understood and communicated purpose is essential to strong organizational culture because it helps employees visualize how their day-to-day work supports a larger, more meaningful contribution to society.

Empowering employees 

Employees today expect a schedule that works with their lives. Mandating strict schedules or requiring workers to be on-site can signal a lack of trust, negatively impacting employee empowerment and making employees feel unappreciated. Offering flexible schedules and allowing employees to work at times that are convenient for their busy lives and family needs creates a sense of trust and a higher level of engagement from employees.

According to a recent report produced by Fortune, employees are happiest when they get to choose where, when and how they work, with many leaving their existing roles or passing on new roles that don’t provide flexibility. Employees have proven their ability to work from anywhere during the pandemic, thus expanding their career choices outside of a traditional commuting distance. 

Companies also benefit from this new dynamic with the opportunity to attract geographically dispersed, diverse and values-aligned talent when their business functions as a work from anywhere culture. 

Showing appreciation for employees connects them to the company’s culture and values, helping them feel more engaged and productive. Organizations can work to show appreciation through rewards, recognition, compensation and benefits. Beyond competitive salaries and benefits, employers can show appreciation by rewarding those that embody the organization’s values and creating recognition programs.

A genuine display of appreciation positively impacts employee morale and increases the likelihood that employees will stay with the organization, empowering them to do good work. This helps culture grow organically from within as employees shift behavior to meet what’s being rewarded and recognized. 

Investing in employee well-being

People have faced intense and prolonged mental, social and financial stress in addition to serious health implications caused by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, investing in the well-being of employees, particularly in the well-being of diverse employee groups, is a critical business necessity. 

Activating holistic well-being programs can help support employee health and prevent burnout cultures, which develop when organizations and leaders don’t prioritize wellness. According to Indeed’s Employee Burnout Report, 67% of respondents believe burnout has worsened throughout the pandemic. Businesses can promote a happier and healthier culture by:  

  • Reinforcing business hours, encouraging employees to stick to them and having leaders model the behavior 
  • Making one or more days of the week meeting-free 
  • Encouraging employees to schedule breaks and providing recommendations for how to let colleagues know when they’re unavailable 
  • Sharing ideas for how employees can informally connect with their colleagues via digital channels, similarly to how they would have in the office environment 
  • Providing education, tools and resources to encourage self-care 

The intense competition for top talent can present an additional challenge for organizations already tackling increasingly complex operating environments. Employees are demanding more transparency, authenticity and commitment to a greater purpose from employers. 

Companies with a strong organizational culture understand culture initiatives are not a one-time investment. They require ongoing focus and fluidity, as well as two-way communication with all stakeholders. Culture should be nurtured to evolve in ways that are best for both employees and the business.

Aligning an organization to its purpose and values, empowering employees through flexibility and appreciation and investing in employee well-being are just a few ways to strengthen organizational culture. 

These actions can directly influence a company’s ability to attract and retain purpose-driven talent. By prioritizing people and culture, organizations will be differentiated from competition and set up to achieve long-term success. 

Return to Current Issue Employee Communications | April 2022
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