May 2, 2023
Talent retention has been a hot topic for a number of years, but has been heightened in more recent years. In addition to a host of reasons detailed in this post, there are also two global factors at play; post-pandemic shift in priorities and the cost-of-living crisis.
With the average worker in the UK devoting 1,795 hours a year working, and 84,365 hours over the course of their careers, it’s little wonder that employees are unwilling to settle for jobs that, for many different reasons, no longer serve them.
This post takes a look specifically at the role of company culture on nurturing and retaining your top talent.
Retaining talent is one of the most valuable ways for businesses to succeed. Other than adding immeasurable value to their teams, productivity and business success, your top talent will be having a huge impact on engagement and company culture. But moreover, high turnover is disruptive, and training staff continuously has its own impact on teams.
According to Forbes, in the USA between July and November last year, more than 4 million people quit their jobs each month. Whilst Gartner predicts that the business sector could see a turnover rate as high as 24% in the years to come.
This seems like doom and gloom, but when we look at why we’re having a retention crisis, it becomes clear that there is a lot, as leadership, that we can do to slow it.
When looking at reasons for talent leaving a company, we can generally categorise it into two main channels; push factors and pull factors.
Pull factors can include things like a job with much higher salary or greater progression opportunity and fulfilling personal ambitions such as pursuing a life-long dream or vocation. They may also include external factors such as family responsibilities. There are some mechanisms that leaders can put in place here, such as flexible working or sabbaticals, to help but ultimately they are external factors that draw talent away.
Push factors, on the other hand, stem from within the business and are nearly always reflective of company culture. They can include lack of (or perceived lack of) opportunities, excessive workload, lack of senior role models, bureaucratic and management issues, lack of recognition, lack of work/life balance. The list is extensive but, whichever way it's framed, most push factors can be avoided with the right support for employees and a strong positive company culture.
Research from Pew backs this; 63% of those who quit in 2021 cited no opportunities for advancement as a reason for leaving and 57% reported feeling disrespected at work as a reason for leaving.
Whilst this isn’t a particularly great reflection of the workscape in general, the significant swing towards push factors is actually a good thing for leaders. Why? Because leaders can take note of this and proactively rebuild, re-stabilise or check in with their company cultures and ensure they are strong and positive.
We should never underestimate the power of company culture and the role it plays in employee experience and also in business success.
Not only is a positive company culture better for retaining talent, but it will attract talent, too. According to Glassdoor (2019), 77% of prospective employees would take a company’s culture into account before applying for a job with them.
A Gallup study found that 4 in 10 strongly agreed that the mission or purpose of their employer makes them feel their job is important but moving that ratio to 8 in 10 employees, corporations can realise:
It can be difficult for leadership to prioritise culture, especially during crisis times when we often see focus turning towards cost cutting. However, cost cutting tends to equate to pulling attention - and often investment - away from the company’s people (their most valuable asset). Because there’s no hard cost against culture, it’s often quick to be put on the backburner but this is a huge misjudgement; organisations can only improve employee engagement, and therefore business outcomes, by investing in its company culture.
The same Gallup study suggests that by focusing on creating an engaged workforce, companies can enjoy distinct business outcomes, including 21% higher profitability.
Nestled at the heart of company culture is employee wellbeing. Work wellness isn't just about mindfulness, company benefits, gym memberships and other work perks. Instead, it's about getting to the heart of what matters most to employees within an organisation and might include progression opportunities, transparency, trust, flexibility or respect to name just a few.
This is supported by the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 which found that employees’ intentions to remain with their employer increases when businesses address employee needs from inclusion and diversity to sustainability and re-skilling.
Addressing and prioritising employee work wellness will allow a positive company culture to flourish in an authentic way.
Whilst there’s no one-size fits all approach when it comes to something as specific and nuanced as company culture, the following steps can help to start understanding - and influencing - it:
Low morale, low productivity and high turnover are some of the key signs that company culture isn’t as strong as it could be. Taking time to review what’s going on within teams is the first step to proactively understand company culture.
Spend time really getting to know your people - on a personal level as well as a professional level.
When you understand what employees want, and the challenges they face, it becomes much easier to identify any gaps in employee wellness and give good steer for any company culture adjustments. There will inevitably be some quick wins and some longer-term strategies to be put in place.
Influencing company culture isn't easy. It will require flexibility, change and adaptability - and this should come from the top down.
Management teams are your culture guardians - read more about this on the Vyou blog - and setting the tone right from the top down will have a ripple effect within the wider business.
Vyou can help with unpicking and understanding existing company culture - and is a tool to help eradicate some of the push factors that contribute to high turnover.
With a proven engagement score of twice the industry benchmark, Vyou helps you understand your people, and supports them to measure, track, and improve how they feel at work, no matter where they work from.
Bringing together the best of AI and human coaching, Vyou helps you to put your team's wellbeing first - the rest will follow. Find out more through a free, no-obligation chat and product walkthrough with one of the Vyou team.