Employee retention has been a problem facing employers for centuries.
High employee turnover rates cost businesses money and time. HR managers agree that replacing an employee costs at least half of that employee’s annual earnings. Many guides on improving retention rates focus on benefits designed to improve the employee experience, such as paid gym time, child care facilities, and even free bagels on Fridays.
However, the process of increasing retention can be started and achieved by the initial hiring of the employee. Although a gym could incentivize employees to stay at work and free bagels can motivate people to come to work, it does not improve the job itself.
Benefits of a Well-defined, Shared Culture
Passion and Responsibility: A shared culture with defined company values creates passion amongst employees and helps them to believe they have a say in the future of the company. People naturally want to be involved and go to bed knowing they contributed to something important and in-line with their own values. This means that employees take responsibility in the company and want to maintain their jobs to see the successes the company makes.
Company Loyalty: Working towards the same goals makes it more enjoyable to work together and a shared culture produces employees that are loyal to the company and its mission, demonstrating high levels of morale through the tough times as well as the good. Well-developed cultures even bring smoother mergers and acquisitions. In an acquired company with a highly-developed culture, employees are more likely to stay with the company that acquired them, and maintain their motivation and productivity.
This increase in company loyalty leads to a decrease in company violations. In some states, a violation of company culture is seen as grounds for dismissal without unemployment benefits and therefore a well-defined culture can be used to justify an unfortunate need to let someone go. It will also be understood by other employees as a breach of company culture and will therefore not reduce morale.
Relationships: A key factor in a person’s decision to stay at a company is the relationships they have built while on the job. A well-developed culture improves relationships between people, levels, and departments because they have more in common. It also develops teamwork, cooperation, and trust between employees.
Gallup’s Q12 survey to determine employee engagement levels uses the measurement, “I have a best friend at work” as one of the indicators of employee engagement levels. (Source: Gallup)
In order to find and hire employees that share the same culture, it is important to first define what the company culture and vision is. This develops whether you plan for it or not. Therefore, it is important to define the company culture before it defines you.
Company culture must be established at the top-level of the organization and trickle down throughout the chain. The CEO is the first and foremost developer and influencer of the culture. Take Steve Jobs, who embodied and encompassed the culture of Apple. Every time he spoke in public, he embraced the culture and spread it to the public. A winning culture must be evident through the actions and decisions of the CEO and anyone who knows about the company should be able to pick up on it.
(Steve Jobs talks about the culture of Apple and how this impacts on employees)
The culture should be in line with company goals and vision. Take a look at what you want to work towards and look back on the ways that previous goals were achieved. The culture should also create a positive and welcoming environment that motivates employees at every level to advance the goals and mission of the company.
Maintaining Company Culture through Recruitment
Once defined, it is important that the culture is maintained through every action, strategy, and decision the company takes. Every communication should support the company beliefs, including HR and recruitment.
It is important that HR managers know the culture of the company and are able to spot this culture in hiring candidates. A study conducted at Radford University showed that employees that have a strong belief in the company’s culture and values had greater job satisfaction, higher performance evaluations, and were more likely to stay at the job longer. Hiring employees that do not represent the ideals of the company culture ultimately leads to poor work ethic, decreased job satisfaction, and an increase in company firings.
The first step in finding the perfect fit is to express the culture of the company clearly in every job description. This will help to weed out many applicants who do not believe in this culture or fit the description. During the interview, you may want to have candidates meet with other employees to see how they interact. This will help you to see whether they fit in with the culture and can build relationships with other employees. Also, ask unique open-ended questions during the interview that cannot be answered by a resume. Dig into the person’s personality and learn their goals, visions, and what makes them tick.
Hiring for the long-term
Embedding a consideration of cultural fit into the candidate attraction and recruitment process is fundamental to business success. It should form the foundational of employer brand strategy, with organizational culture clearly communicated externally to ensure candidates in the recruitment market are not only aware, but well-informed of the values of your company before they apply.
Communication of culture and vision should also form part of your onboarding strategy and internal communications plan, helping to embed the culture and create a sense of inclusion, loyalty and engagement amongst employees. In turn, they will become advocates for your business and its brand: helping to ensure higher quality talent for the future of your organization.