By NetRush Social Media and Editorial Coordinator, Connor Parsons 

 

Originally published by Vancouver Business Journal

How does a growing company stay true to its culture and employees when success brings swift, constant change to the workplace?

While much of a company’s focus shifts toward the initiatives that drive financial opportunities, maintaining inclusion and transparency across departments can’t be overlooked.

It’s an essential.

Culture is a huge selling point when it comes to hiring employees. It guides how people work and, if positively maintained, contributes to long-term retention.

“For a lot of people, work takes up more time than what they get at home. That’s why your daily job should be exciting. People should be getting more out of it than a paycheck and somewhere to sit for eight hours a day,” Hailey Orosco, NetRush HR manager said.

However, establishing a desirable company culture isn’t as easy as it might sound. While tech giants like Google are known for going culture-overboard by having sleeping pods and playground-style slides, this type of employee perk only works when standard business practices are smooth and employees are working synergistically.

According to Gallup Business Journal’s research, the top factors that influence high turnover boil down to the immediate manager, being a poor fit to the job, having coworkers not committed to quality, unsatisfactory pay and benefits, and connection (or lack thereof) to the organization or to senior management.

Of these five things, company culture can be directly attributed to four.

Leverage Culture Correctly

An immediate manager should set clear expectations, provide adequate materials, and relay opportunities for growth. Failing to include lower-level employees in regular conversations between management creates a sense of frustration or worthlessness that spreads quickly.

Feeling that you are a poor fit for the job, according to Gallup, is experienced most often when an employee doesn’t have the opportunities to do what they’re skilled at while on the clock. Employees are less likely to feel this way when they are given positive feedback about their performance, or are surrounded by a company culture that encourages creativity and values employee input, regardless of position.

Being surrounded by coworkers who are committed to quality sets the pace. Taking pride in your work ties back to having solid communication between employees and management. Again, a company that fosters creativity and provides constant feedback, thus making the employees feel valuable to the company, will reduce feelings of discouragement that lead to high turnover rates.

Ultimately, connection to the organization or to senior management is essential for having high employee retention. Having employees with values that align with the company is key.

Establishing inclusivity: A practical approach

Transparency: Being “in the know” is valuable to most employees, and makes them feel like an important part of a growing company. This can be as simple as sharing sales statistics and partnership announcements, but also includes the not-so-good news, such as employee termination and poor company performance. Sharing information with employees shows respect by inviting them to be part of the company’s ever changing journey.

Open input: It is also important to allow your employees to be transparent with you. Depending on your relationship with your staff, feedback can be anonymous or not. This, again, shows respect, allowing them to give feedback to ultimately improve your company’s performance. To do this effectively, employee feedback must be taken seriously. To accept input but not act upon it can be more frustrating for the employee than not accepting feedback to begin with.

Self-reflection: To grow as a company with a focus on the long-term, self-reflection is essential. Being able to take a step back, listen to perspectives from all departments, and make an informed change will be good for both your company and your employees. To not do so can be detrimental, as the trust and respect that your employees have for you will begin to falter.

Cross department communication: There are countless companies where sales staff and the engineering team never establish a first-name basis with each other. Having an open stream of communication between teams breaks down the feeling of hierarchy, resulting in employees of all levels feeling valuable. This in no way excludes management: many great company leaders have no qualms with speaking to lower-level employees. Every employee is valuable; it’s time to start speaking to them that way.

Clear timelines: Having defined timelines for assignments and projects increases efficiency and results in employees feeling that their time is worthwhile and valuable to the company. This links directly back to the number one reason for high employee turnover: managers not setting clear goals or expectations for their employees.

So can I get an open bar and PlayStation room in the office yet?

If you are able to successfully implement each of these top cultural values and are able to foster a truly inclusive environment in your office, then yes.

Luxury office amenities are not enough to make employees stick around if they are unsatisfied in their position. In a few high profile examples, we can observe this strategy failing miserably. A prime example is Fling, a short-lived ultra-funded mobile app with a luxurious office and record-low employee satisfaction. This mentality is likely inspired by the extravagant offices at Google, Facebook, and Adobe, but there is one key difference: these businesses created a synergistic company culture before installing a full-service coffee bar.

It’s best to see this kind of office environment as a reward for creating a truly inclusive workplace, rather than as a tool to attract and keep top-performing employees.

Connor Parsons is the social media & editorial coordinator at Vancouver-based NetRush, a digital retail agency that actively manages brands on the Amazon marketplace. You can reach him at connor@netrush.com or via LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/connorvparsons.

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