I like to believe the employee benefits research we conduct provides useful insight for Iowa employers. After all, in addition to competitive pay, offering the ‘right’ type of benefits to the ‘right’ audience (employees) is critical when attracting qualified personnel – given the relatively steep cost it takes to offer competitive compensation packages.
But after attracting your employees, what keeps them with your organization? What is the glue or bond that ensures your most valuable asset does not take flight elsewhere?
Often, employers confuse perks with culture. Perks ATTRACT employees, but culture RETAINS them.
Your organization’s culture is the development and implementation of a unique brand or philosophy that is continuously embedded within and throughout your organization. It’s what distinguishes your organization from all others. Culture cannot be purchased through insurance vendors nor found in a paycheck. Its organic make-up of emotion and experience provides intangible feelings of concern for your employees. It creates a sense of community that allows employees to feel connected to something much bigger.
Unlike a more tangible perk such as employee benefits, attempting to survey organizations about their culture is much trickier. Cultures can be positive or negative. Providing a strong, positive culture allows employees the freedom to be themselves. Spend time to listen and support them. Ask for their opinions and act on their feedback. A positive culture serves as a vaccine that repels contagious viruses that can have undesirable consequences.
If you feel that your organization doesn’t have the ‘right’ kind of culture to retain employees, you are not alone. But there is hope! A positive culture can be organically grown if leaders genuinely embrace transparency with their staff, which allows workers to respond in-kind. By sharing their own costly mistakes, leaders/managers can demonstrate to employees they are committed to learning from the past. Consequently, this will develop mutual trust that is paramount for success.
Holding people accountable, pushing them to be better and training them to learn how is not that difficult, it just takes a consistent and concerted effort in all departments of your organization. When your employees are challenged and pushed, they become better – and so does your culture. Management-guru Peter F. Drucker simply wrote that ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ How right he was!
Think about it, employees are really your ‘customers.’ So, what is your organization selling to them? How about…
• The sum of your organizational habits
• Values that you share and live
• Vision and mission of your organization
• Processes and procedures, including the level of bureaucracy (for better or worse)
• Innovation and creativity support – allow them to develop and use their God-given abilities
• Safety and security
• Sense of belonging
If you focus on creating an environment which makes it difficult for your employees to leave because they feel that ‘sense of belonging,’ they will stay. It’s never too late to change the road you are on. As Albert Einstein once stated, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking…”
What is your organization’s culture?
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