Money isn’t everything. These days, the old adage rings increasingly true in the workplace. Although 89 percent of managers believe the No. 1 reason employees leave companies is because they are dissatisfied with their pay, only 22 percent of employees who have left a previous role cite pay as a driver of their decision. Issues of trust, stress, poor communication, and recognition are all non-monetary factors behind many employees’ decisions to leave.

Here, we’ll examine why company culture is important to recruitment and retention efforts, and we’ll provide insight into establishing cultures that keep talent happy.

Why Culture Matters

While fair salaries are always appreciated, today’s workers — especially the younger ones — want more from their jobs. In an article for, ResourceBank CEO Richard Pearson outlines some of the psychology at work here. Citing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Pearson notes that money helps employees meet their most basic needs, like “warmth, food, and health.” However, Pearson continues, fulfilling basic needs is not enough: “Most people, especially the new working generation, are looking to reach the ‘self-actualization’ stage where they can feel truly valued as individuals.”

This, ultimately, is why great cultures matter: They give employees the support and resources they need to ascend Maslow’s hierarchy and reach self-actualization. Salaries only go so far; great cultures help employees thrive.

How to Establish the Right Culture for Your Employees

No two cultures are the same, and establishing a culture that’s right for your employees starts with understanding what needs to change. Business consultant Larry Alton suggests starting with a “culture audit,” which he describes as a way to “evaluate where your culture currently stands, see what (if anything) is missing, and establish a plan to make corrections.”

Human resources expert Susan Heathfield says that embarking on this journey should include three major steps:

  1. First, you must understand the current culture as it presently exists.
  2. Next, define the culture required to support employee success, and then determine the strategic direction the organization will take to make this culture a reality.
  3. Finally, help employees join the new culture by adopting behaviors that align with the targeted cultural change.

Heathfield says the last step is the most difficult, but it is also essential. No culture change will stick if the employees are not on board with it. Getting employees on board may take some time and some difficult conversations, but the goal can certainly be accomplished. To foster productive conversations, try using tools like the diversity toolkit created by the online Master of Social Work program from the University of Southern California.

Ensure Your Culture Is Genuine

Your culture will only be effective if it genuinely aligns with the core values that guide your company. As Foxwordy founder and CEO Monica Zent suggests in an article for Entrepreneur, you should “[t]ake time to reflect on who you are, the vibe you want to radiate, and ultimately, the kind of culture that fits both you and your brand.”

Colleen O’Day is a digital PR manager for 2U Inc. Find her on Twitter: @ColleenMODay.

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