Why Company Culture Is More Than Just a Buzz Word
As we near the two-year mark from the start of the pandemic, we continue to see significant disruptions to the business landscape and daily life. During this substantial change, it’s clear that business leaders have struggled to keep their teams connected and engaged. A record 47 million workers, representing one-fifth of the US workforce, quit their jobs in 2021, reflecting the shift in priorities for employees.
In the wake of the pandemic and the “Great Resignation,” businesses face new challenges in employee retention, including how to attract talent and keep employees happy in a work-from-home world. As a new generation of workers searches for job opportunities, they expect more from employers beyond paychecks and standard benefits. According to a study by LinkedIn, 41% of job seekers consider company culture a top priority when choosing a job. The remote landscape has also opened the door to countless opportunities for job seekers as geography is now less restrictive, allowing employees flexibility to prioritize jobs that better fulfill their needs.
Across industries, companies need to fundamentally redefine their culture and provide employees opportunities to grow, develop connections, and find meaning, purpose, and wellness to attract and retain employees. There are three critical questions employers must consider when evaluating their own company culture to put themselves in the shoes of their employees and better understand their needs.
1. “What Is Great for Me?”
Unsurprisingly, the top consideration for job seekers is self-interest. Simply providing healthcare benefits isn’t enough to stay competitive in this evolving job market. Individuals are looking for companies that make their employees a top priority. People prioritize organizations that invest in personal well-being and provide robust wellness benefits, flexible schedules, and recognition programs when seeking a new opportunity.
Comprehensive wellness programs effectively invest in employee well-being and boost satisfaction and productivity while demonstrating company values to prospective employees. These benefits can include healthcare incentives, wellness stipends, resilience training, etc. Companies need to look at the individualized needs of their employees to create customized solutions and services.
In the past two years, we have seen that job seekers prioritize work schedule flexibility over remote work. Implementing flexible schedules promotes personal wellness and a healthy work environment. Businesses can offer hybrid work, remote work, in-person work, flexible hours, childcare, or other necessary accommodations that allow employees to feel and perform their best.
Employing incentives and recognition programs is now more critical than ever to motivate and connect employees working from home. They have been shown to increase employee retention, productivity, and satisfaction. Job seekers want to be recognized for their contributions, especially in virtual environments where connection and appreciation are lost behind the screen.
2. “What Is Great for Us?”
Maintaining a culture of collaboration and teamwork remotely is now essential for business success and employee retention. Employers must adapt in-person communications systems to fit remote and hybrid work so that virtual workers don’t feel the negative effects of isolation, fatigue, and disconnect. Hybrid workplaces can often prioritize employees who make better in-person connections and are more likely to be considered for promotions, raises, and other opportunities. Businesses must focus on solutions that work collectively for the team yet ensure no individual is left behind.
Activities that encourage communication and care can help ensure people feel connected to their team. They can be as simple as virtual events providing a change of scenery between meetings or more comprehensive, long-term team-building programs. Individuals deliver higher levels of performance when organizations prioritize their wellness, health, and vitality, allowing them to feel part of a culture that is greater than themselves.
3. “What Is Great for the World?”
The face of the U.S. workforce has changed drastically over the last decade, and businesses must change to meet the needs of this new population of workers. Millennials now account for over 35% of the U.S. workforce, and the latest wave of young professionals is Gen-Z, who are expected to make up 30% of the U.S. workforce in just four years.
A recent study found that Gen-Z is the first generation to prioritize purpose over salary. Job seekers in today’s market are pursuing opportunities with organizations whose values align closely with their values. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) will be one of the defining factors in the future of recruiting.
Companies can bolster their CSR initiatives through intentional and cultivated programs by identifying causes that are important to their team and by providing opportunities for employee involvement. CSR programs may include volunteer events, fundraisers, diversity, equity, and inclusion training. People want to contribute to a greater purpose beyond their responsibilities and expect their employers to do it. Companies that have cultures with strong social impact programs are not facing the exact recruiting and retention challenges as companies that ignore the importance of CSR.
The Future of Recruiting and Employee Retention
Every individual has different fears, needs, and wants when it comes to employment, but it’s no secret that job seekers expect more from their employers than ever before. Companies must listen to their employees and make substantial investments in revamping their current systems. With these three guiding questions in mind, the organizations that adapt will create a greater company culture to attract and retain talent.
Melissa Lopez, co-founder, and CEO of Onyx.
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