It may sound like a cliché, but no matter what industry you work in, the biggest asset your company has are its employees.
For many companies, the recruitment process commands a huge proportion of the HR budget. But the truth is that attracting top quality talent is only the beginning. Keeping employees happy, motivated and engaged is far more difficult, and so should command more of your resources respectively. All too often however, this isn’t the case, leading to high staff turnover, and higher costs for you.
The employment market is always offering new opportunities to the most talented, and they’re the ones that you really want to keep. However, by making sure that your company has a clear and transparent culture, which permeates from top to bottom, you could find that you not only attract, but also retain the very best talent in the market.
Here’s how to make sure you are embedding the right company culture in your organisation.
Don’t rush to hire… or be slow to fire
When you have a vacancy there can be a pressing need to fill the seat quickly, but rushing the decision could be seriously detrimental to your business.
If your company culture is built on innovation, and relies upon the open sharing of ideas, trust and appreciation, then hiring a wallflower that is not keen to participate will quickly affect morale within the team.
It only takes one person to upset a carefully balanced workplace and for resentment to start spreading. It’s far better to hire someone who has less experience or qualifications but the right attitude, than a more experienced person who’s not so keen to engage in what your company really represents.
The same principles apply for firing as they do for hiring. Letting someone linger who’s clearly a poor fit will give you problems that could ultimately take a lot longer to resolve. It’s important to send your employees the right message, and that means showing them that you won’t tolerate people who don’t share the company’s vision and are not willing to work towards a common goal.
Don’t be disingenuous
When you’re creating your company culture, it’s essential to think carefully about what you really believe in. Often, the customer, or other stakeholders determine the manner in which companies conduct business – will we sell more TVs if we do a volunteer at a care home once a year? Will the board be pleased if we raise money for charity? – It’s these sorts of questions often shape a company’s ‘culture’, but there’s simply nothing ingrained about it, making it almost always impossible to keep up.
Any attempt to create a fake culture because you think it will prove popular, will soon be identified as such, and you will lose the respect of your staff, stakeholders and customers. If employees joined your company over another because of your principles, and they discover that they are not apparent throughout the business, they will quickly be looking for a new job.
Eco-awareness is an excellent example of this. If you truly believe in sustainability and green working practices then this should be embedded throughout the company culture from top to bottom. The office shouldn’t allow wasteful practices and the directors shouldn’t be offered petrol-guzzling company cars. In order to not only attract, but also retain the top talent, be honest and committed to the culture you want to create and make sure you deliver what you promise.
Although you may have a clear career path within your company, if an employee has to wait until they have climbed a long way up the ladder before they are handed any responsibility, they may become disillusioned and frustrated.
Don’t be afraid to create a culture of trust, handing out appropriate responsibility to individuals, and rewarding ambition, talent and progress. Aiming for a distant target, or waiting for someone else to vacate a post can be an incredibly frustrating process, but when employees are treated with respect, appreciated and trusted, it can create a sense of ownership and loyalty towards the company.
Engender mutual respect
Striking the balance between work and personal lives can be difficult, but by showing employees that you are flexible, reasonable and understanding when needed will pay dividends in the long run.
An employer who trusts their employees to be honest, and offers solutions to help them overcome obstacles will command a real sense of loyalty and respect. This in turn not only improves your chances of retaining the very best staff, but when the time comes that you need something outside the norm from them, they will be far more willing to go that extra mile to deliver what you need.
A company culture won’t develop overnight and it’s important to have a clear idea about who you are, and what you are trying to achieve. By being honest about your company, and ensuring these values are embedded throughout every practice from top to bottom, you will create an authentic working environment that your employees will thrive in – and will want to remain in too.