How to retain your best employees: Culture

By Karin Colucci, Vice President of Human Resources and Benefits, IdilusHR

While employers across the United States face a multitude of challenges—attracting talent, mitigating risk and increasing profitability, just to name a few—one area consistently rises to the top of business owners’ priority lists: employee retention.

A recent poll by Human Resource Executive Online found that respondents ranked employee retention as one of the top three HR challenges employers face today. And this is unsurprising, considering the cost of employee turnover. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), turnover-related costs can represent more than 12 percent of an average company’s pre-tax income. This significant financial cost, not to mention the time and energy associated with finding the right talent to fill the position, can place a heavy burden on already strained businesses.


So, in simple terms, what makes employees stay? How can employees become more engaged in and satisfied with their work environment? In its 2015 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that nearly half of respondents ranked “overall culture” as “very important” to workplace satisfaction. The society continued to define corporate culture as “the shared attitude and mannerisms held by the members of the organization.”

In an era when U.S. companies are under increased financial and regulatory pressures, it has become critical to develop a team of loyal employees dedicated to long-term future growth. Below are three ways to cultivate a positive corporate culture that will help to increase employee satisfaction, engagement and motivation.

Define your company culture

The first step toward retaining employees through a positive and engaging company culture may seem obvious, but is often overlooked: Define your company culture in clear terms and communicate it to your workforce effectively.

Company culture can encompass the organization’s values, future vision, beliefs, mission, in-office norms and general atmosphere. It can help to create an environment of respect, trust, innovation and purpose to motivate employees and improve workplace productivity. While culture is often defined by an organization’s senior leaders and management team, it can help to have employees submit suggestions to include staff in the process, respond to their feedback and increase overall engagement.

Identify ways to engage

Once an organization’s culture has been defined in writing and agreed upon, it can be distributed to employees via email, staff meetings and office-wide flyers. Companies also can incorporate culture directly into employee performance; for example, if an employee can demonstrate three ways he adhered to one of the company’s core values while interacting with a client or customer, the employee may receive an additional bonus or other incentive at his next performance review. Hosting events outside of the office is another way to reinforce company culture; for example, if “giving back” is a key value of the organization, plan a service-oriented event during one weekday each quarter or year to encourage positive, out-of-office interaction.

Companies also can choose to share various aspects of their culture with clients, customers and the general public. Publishing the company’s values or purpose on its website, flyers or other sales collateral can help to establish a unique identity and brand for the company, making it more easily recognizable in its market.

Encourage employee feedback

Collecting, listening to and actively engaging with employee feedback has become a critical step to solidifying a positive and motivating workplace culture. The SHRM survey cited above found that only 23 percent of respondents were “very satisfied” with the level of communication between employees and senior management at their current workplace.

Conducting employee interviews and surveys on a fairly regular basis not only provides critical insight to the attitudes and feelings of the current workforce, but also sends the message that the employer is listening and genuinely interested in employees’ thoughts and overall happiness.

A positive company culture has become a high priority for individuals in the workforce. On the other hand, culture also can help employers define workplace standards, motivate employees and increase engagement to improve satisfaction and retention rates.

To learn more about establishing a company culture to retain top-performing employees, please contact IdilusHR.