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Culture is the secret to employee retention

Oct 24, 2023

The Great Resignation made two things clear:

  1. People want to work for companies that share their values, beliefs and attitudes.
  2. And culture is not a snack bar or ping pong table.

Culture is the magic ingredient that attracts and retains workers, especially in hot labor markets. Now that more companies are operating in remote or hybrid environments, it’s more important to create an emotional connection to the workplace. 

Easier said than done? Maybe – but not impossible. It has to be intentional.

Energize culture across the company lifecycle

Culture-building starts right away: When you write the vision for your company, include goals for culture, collaboration and career development. Do you want to be a place where employees spend their entire careers? Or become a launching pad for other pursuits? How do you want decisions to be made? Performance to be evaluated?

These decisions bring the company’s vision and culture to life, so consider both business components together. If your vision is compelling, it will inspire winning culture and performance.

Growing and mature companies: Ask for feedback about culture and engagement to make sure it hasn’t strayed from the founding vision. Regular pulse surveys alert you to issues before they become major problems – and signal to employees that culture is important.

Ask for feedback about other things, too. What benefits or perks do employees value? Where do they see opportunities for themselves and the company to grow? Is the company making mistakes or falling short of customers’ and employees’ expectations? Employees will be more engaged and committed to a culture if strategies are shaped by their feedback and ideas.

All companies can turn culture into a competitive advantage.

How to build a stronger culture

Use these tactics and tools to engage employee stakeholders:

  • Set some ground rules: Be explicit about the types of behaviors and conversations that belong in the workplace. Give examples if it helps.
  • Recruit for culture: Hire for character and “team fit,” especially if you can teach some essential skills on the job. That doesn’t mean everyone has to think, look or work the same. They should work well together and uphold the same ideals about integrity, respect and other core values.
  • Celebrate wins (more than once): Highlight people and business practices that embody the company culture. Make sure retention plans, succession plans and development paths align with your ideal culture, so the “right” behaviors are regularly reinforced and rewarded.
  • Have hard conversations – and make hard decisions: A strong culture can withstand some tough love. Ask employees for feedback that could be hard to hear. And once you’ve made a stand on culture, stick to it. Operational decisions – from benefits to purchasing and pricing – need to align with the culture. That could mean forgoing higher profits in favor of sustainable options or slightly lower productivity in exchange for greater work-life balance for employees.
  • Make things easier when you can: Not everything has to be difficult. When you can, use technology to make collaboration easier and work more flexible – or to eliminate headaches for staff. You can show employees you care about them by removing barriers and letting them focus more time on tasks that bring them joy.

Keep in mind: These aspects of culture all require a high level of trust between leaders and staff. That will grow over time, and as the company commits to transformational leadership.

How Wipfli can help

Wipfli’s Prime Growth System is a proprietary operating system that aligns key components so you can achieve elevated performance, increased efficiency and strengthen organizational health. Our prime team has tools to assess your culture – and other key performance areas. Sign up for our free rapid assessment today or learn more.


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Wipfli Editorial Team

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