Future of work: retention and culture
Our future of work series previously examined top tips for recruiting a diverse workforce. However, in order to successfully retain staff, organisations must go further and look beyond their initial recruitment processes to evaluate the overall culture of the business. We outline ways that employers can ensure that culture becomes a foundational asset of their organisation and, in turn, reinforces employee loyalty.
First and foremost, it is vital that employers properly define and articulate their cultural values in order to provide clear direction in respect of the future of the organisation. This helps employees to understand and connect with the aims of the business and, without this, companies may find it difficult to obtain buy-in from their wider workforce. However, it is important that this is coupled with genuine action and does not merely become a tick box exercise. Each and every business decision should be aligned with the overarching vision for the organisation’s culture for this to become - and remain - effective.
As well as this, providing channels for open communication and regular employee feedback can boost engagement and make staff feel genuinely listened to. This could also involve allowing staff perspectives to both shape and inform company strategy so that it is clear that the organisation truly values the input of its employees. However, employers should ensure that they actively implement preventative measures to avoid the same issues continually re-occurring. Failure to do so may have the opposite effect and cause feelings of disillusionment amongst employees and make them more likely to look elsewhere for work.
Managers are also a key player in staff retention rates and, as a result, culture within an organisation must be driven from the top down. If business leaders do not live by their company values then this often translates into mistrust and disengagement amongst the rest of the workforce. Organising regular training on effective management and supervision can equip managers with the necessary tools to build good relations with their teams. If staff feel respected and appreciated by their managers then they are more likely to feel comfortable in confiding in them and, in turn, remain loyal.
Diversity and Inclusion
Everybody should feel able to be their authentic selves at work, irrespective of their age, gender, race, sexuality or any other protected characteristic that they may have. Yet, a recent report by CBI found that although nearly three-quarters of professionals say that their employer actively talks about equality, diversity and inclusion, less than half are actually taking action.
Diversity and inclusion are key to employee experience as teams hugely benefit from the perspectives of those with different lived experiences. Employers should therefore take steps to embed this into every aspect of work and encourage the input of all employees, regardless of their background. We have already looked at how employee networks can be hugely beneficial in achieving this (please see here for our article on the role of employee networks). As well as this, delivering training, campaigning for change to policies and procedures and educating employees on issues such as intersectionality, can all go some way towards effecting meaningful progress within a workplace. These steps will help to foster belonging so that employees feel less inclined to move on to another organisation.
Investing in employee development
If employees are not given the opportunity for growth and progression internally then they may begin to look for this at competing organisations. Therefore, the benefit of investing in the training and development of existing staff is twofold. Firstly, it can help to upskill an organisation’s workforce so that it can benefit from its employees’ potential and, secondly, it will ensure that employees feel supported in their career growth. Engaged employees achieve better results and managers should therefore take the time to talk to staff about their personal objectives and future aspirations in order to facilitate training and development opportunities and retain staff members.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are increasingly at the forefront of employees’ minds. As such, organisations should ensure that they maximise their focus on ESG where possible. The Black Lives Matter movement, as well as responses from businesses in light of the US Roe v Wade decision demonstrated that staff expect to see their employers taking a stand on issues that are important to them. Failure to do so risks employees moving to another organisation that better aligns with their values.
Whilst an organisation might be able to survive without offering an excellent culture, it is highly unlikely that it will thrive without paying attention to some, or all, of the recommendations outlined. Plenty of organisations already fulfil many of the elements above and, if others do not follow suit, there is a high chance that employees will begin to vote with their feet. It should also be noted that there is no ‘quick fix’ and a successful company culture requires continued and long-term commitment, learning and refinement in order to retain key talent.
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