Did you know that the average person will spend about 90,000 hours at their job throughout their lifetime? It makes sense, then, why workers might value a strong workplace culture. After all, if they’re going to spend almost a third of their lives at work, they want to enjoy the experience. And in fact, when Glassdoor surveyed over 5,000 adults across the U.S. and Europe, it confirmed just that.
More than half (56%) of overall respondents said culture was more important than income when it came to on-the-job happiness, and 77% said they judge a company’s culture before applying to work there. Those numbers were even higher among Millennial workers: 65% of U.S. Millennials said they value company culture over higher pay, compared to just 52% of Americans aged 45-plus.
This might not be new information to you. In the 2010s, we saw a massive flood of media around the concept of organizational culture, but culture is so much more than happy hours and Ping Pong tables. Culture is the unspoken social order of your company. It shapes your team’s attitudes and behaviors by defining what’s acceptable (and unacceptable) at work. When it’s well-aligned with values, ambitions, and needs, it has the power to rally your team around a shared purpose that can drive your company forward.
Why Culture Is the Backbone of a Happy Workforce
Having a positive, cohesive company culture is essential for any business, regardless of industry, size, or structure. According to research from CultureIQ, employees of companies with solid cultures rate their employer’s collaboration, environment, and values 20% higher. On the flip side, employees of companies with weak or toxic cultures struggle to find real value in their work, and ultimately, they’ll go searching for an employer who can fulfill their wants and needs. So really, culture is one of the best employee retention strategies at your disposal.
That said, understanding the importance of company culture and actually creating that culture are two very different things. The HR team is ultimately in charge of shaping culture, but it cannot be created in a vacuum and passed down through the company. Instead, you set your company’s culture through your communication, actions, and decisions. So here are three tips you can use to strengthen company culture and encourage better workplace retention.
1. Define and communicate.
Would your employees, managers, and executives describe your workplace culture the same way? If the answer is “no,” there’s a chance you haven’t been very deliberate about articulating your culture and explaining why it matters. So clearly outline your company culture. How would you define it? How does it drive your business strategy? Then, talk to your employees about what that culture looks like, why it’s essential, and how to live it out. Don’t leave them guessing.
Often, the CEO leads company culture communication, but it is important that HR managers are in the front seat as well. After all, HR managers are some of the most influential leaders at work. Plus, HR is responsible for establishing employee rules and guidelines, so it makes sense that they would communicate them across the team, too.
2. Walk the walk.
The best way to teach your team about your culture and the expectations you’ve set is to lead by example. Thread your culture throughout every decision you make and every action you take.
Another way you can live out your company values and culture is through a robust benefits package. For example, let’s say you claim to have a culture of autonomy and trust. In that case, you might consider offering flexible work arrangements in your benefits package. (Bonus: flexible work has been shown to improve employee retention.)
Beyond simply offering the benefit, however, make sure employees can properly take advantage of it. For instance, more employers are now offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with the option to open a health savings account (HSA) to cover out-of-pocket care costs. Even still, many employees struggle to cover expenses without going into debt or turning to predatory payday loans. By offering employees with HDHPs a solution like Paytient, you can help them cover costs interest-free over the course of multiple paychecks. Learn more here!
3. Integrate company values into recruitment and hiring.
If you read one of your company’s job ads today, would it feel true to the lived experience of working there? It certainly should. Suppose your company’s values aren’t front and center in all recruitment materials. In that case, you’ll end up attracting candidates who aren’t necessarily bought into your mission and culture, and employee retention will suffer as a result.
On the other hand, if a candidate shares your values, they’ll be more likely to succeed long term. During the interview process, ask questions that get to the heart of your values. Situational questions, for example, can help you understand a candidate’s approach to teamwork, problem-solving, and learning in a variety of challenging situations.
However, hiring based on culture fit alone can create a slippery slope to a homogenous workplace. So employ tactics to hire for culture fit without harming diversity. For example, consider forming hiring teams comprised of workers from different backgrounds; then, conduct group interviews to minimize the bias of any one person in the group.
All of the individual moments that make up your office experience impact how your employees perceive your culture — and these perceptions directly affect engagement, workplace retention, individual performance, and team development. So use these three tips to build a cohesive culture from the ground up, and watch as employees come together to bring your organizational mission to life.