Strengthening company culture as a means to combatting “The Great Resignation”.

Strengthening company culture as a means of combatting “The Great Resignation”

A phrase that I repeatedly heard from business and employment analysts over the summer has been “The Great Resignation”. It is a term used to describe the increasing number of employees globally who are choosing to leave, often long-term employers, for an opportunity to do something new or seek better working conditions than currently experienced.

This trend has led to an already squeezed labour market tightening, making it more challenging to attract and retain experienced staff. I found this article from the McKinsey Institute about why people seek new roles excellent in articulating why the phenomenon is happening now.

After two years of uncertainty, it would be easy to think that people would be more likely to stay in their job, happy to get back to normal. But, in reality, the opposite is happening because of a form of ‘battle fatigue’. Others have argued, however, that it is just a continuation of a problem that began before the pandemic – there are more jobs than people willing/experienced to do them.

Whatever the reason, it is now more imperative than ever for businesses to do all they can to attract and retain good employees. Last year, I wrote about how to attract the right people to your business and stressed the importance of attractive work cultures. This month I go into more detail about creating a company culture that will help you attract and retain the right people.

It Comes From The Top

Creating a strong company culture should begin at the top. Having a CEO who recognises the employees’ vital role in their success and for whom cultural values are included as part of their business plan and core strategy. They may have a designated People & Culture Leader in their management team to enable culture. But ultimately, it is the CEO who is accountable for their company’s culture.

They set the tone for the whole organisation. CEOs who appear to be distant or uninterested in the day-to-day activities of the company will have a more difficult time retaining employees than a CEO who takes the time to get to know their staff and communicates with them regularly, either virtually in meetings or face-to-face conversations.

Connect Culture to Core Values

As CEO, lead by example and ensure that you and the management team live by your company’s core values to model how your employees should behave. Being explicit about how your core values are tied to your core purpose and strategy will help to embed the culture amongst employees.

Onboarding is Not about training.

Ensure you have ‘A Players’ in every role in the company through an onboarding experience that equips them with everything they need to begin and a clear understanding of the history, culture, values, lines of communication, and accountability.

It is easier to do this if you have a ‘company playbook’ in place which outlines all they need to know about the company’s processes and who they can ask for help whilst they settle into their role.

Give your employees skin in the game

Companies that have shown the greatest level of staff retention have often done so by creating a playing field that gives their employees “skin in the game”. The staff know what the priorities are, what the short and long-term goals are, as well as where the company is heading. This is what I refer to as the line of sight.

Your team should be updated regularly on how the company is performing and their contribution to that success. The core values must be visible, and all staff should be encouraged to provide feedback and suggest better ways of doing things. Celebrations of success are essential in fostering a sense of ownership in the company’s success and building loyalty.

Pathways for progression.

Research has shown that today’s employees are looking to grow and progress in their roles. Your company should have set pathways for employee growth and role progression that are visible to all employees.

Drive a high-performance company culture in which individual development and career aspirations are supported and aligned to organisational goals.

Appoint a Strategic People and Culture Leader.

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, the CEO is accountable for culture, however, the value added by having a strategic People and Culture Leader can not be overstated. It should be given to someone who is a strong communicator, an active listener, collaborative and believes in the company’s vision just as much as the CEO does.

Plan to hire in advance

Staffing requirements are forecasted twelve months in advance. When you know what staff you require in advance and begin the recruitment process before the position ‘comes on-stream, or as soon as an employee signals they will be leaving, the less stress will fall onto the shoulders of leadership team and individual team members.

Sudden resignations can often be avoided through regular communication with staff about how they feel they are performing in their role and where mitigation is required to maintain a happy and productive work environment.

Recognise, relate and retain

When employees were asked why they stayed with a company, the top three reasons why they chose to stay were:

  1. Recognition – their contribution was valued and recognised by management.
  2. Information – they knew and agreed with where the company was going and the steps being taken to achieve success. They were asked for their input and felt good about being asked what they thought and listened to even though they were not involved at a strategic level.
  3. Management cared. When management made a point of getting to know their employees and taking an interest in who they were instead of an accounting number, staff were more likely to stay in a role for longer. Employees appreciate being treated like people.

Patrick Lencioni highlighted the importance of engaging with employees during the “great resignation in a recent vlog which I think sums it up well.

Creating a culture and work environment where staff are happy and less likely to leave and easier to attract has to begin, I think, with an acknowledgement from Business owners and CEOs the toll that the last two years has taken on themselves and employees’ mental health. Now is the time to double down on providing a workplace that recognises the vital role employees play in the company’s success and includes what they need to be happy and productive.

Contact me to discuss how your business can become an employee of choice and the strategies required to help you get there.

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  • About the Author, Leigh Paulden

    Leigh Paulden


    Leigh Paulden is an author and internationally certified business growth consultant with over 30 years of experience across 30+ different industries. He works with mid-market business leaders looking to grow. He creates the clarity and certainty needed to make great decisions and achieve scalable and sustainable success.

    Find out more about Leigh or contact him to discuss taking your business growth to the next level.