Skip to main content
Retention: does your Culture help or hinder

Retention: does your Culture help or hinder?

  • 04 June 2019
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

66% of professionals are not planning to stay at their organization long-term. What are you doing to retain them longer? Do you develop your organizational culture and offer them a reason to stay?

Retention of great employees can be extremely cost-efficient as the recruitment and on-boarding processes take time, energy and money. Every time a new colleague enters the organization he or she must learn the culture, and the job, and build trust within the team. Every time a great colleague resigns, they take trust, knowledge, skills, ideas and bits of the organizational memory with them.

A high employee turnover leads to high cost, lack of continuity, and sometimes to an erosion of trust and morale. "What's wrong with this workplace? All the best colleagues leave." It's always a reason to check what is going on. What's the matter is often the bad quality of the organizational culture and leadership.

What's the matter?

A recent study by the Execu|Search Group found 66% of professionals are not planning to stay long. Edward Fleischman, their CEO, says: "Professionals consider their careers an integral part of their lives and they expect their job to provide meaning. Top performers who do not feel engaged or supported at work will be first to leave."

What does their Hiring Outlook report convey? It's becoming increasing difficult to keep talent:

  • 66% of professionals are NOT planning to stay at their organization long-term
  • Companies must offer more professional development: 86% of professionals said that they would change jobs if they were offered more opportunities for professional development
  • 66% of professionals said that there isn't much support for those wishing to take on leadership roles
  • Managers play a critical role in employee engagement: Professionals ranked support from leadership/management as the most important element of company culture
  • Employers are falling short regarding work-life balance: 45% of employees do not feel their employer promotes a healthy work-life balance
  • 71% of professionals said they would change jobs if they were offered flexible scheduling in a new role

Check your leadership

That aligns with the infamous Gallup research. According to a study by Gallup, one in two people admitted to having left a job to get away from a bad manager. A bad manager could be an absent manager or, on the other hand, a micro-manager.

Workplaces are rapidly evolving. To be more agile in a project-based work environment, teams make more decisions without approval from above, which means team members must act more like leaders and think more "big picture" like executives. Organizations are looking for employees who can make independent decisions with confidence, problem solve with diverse peer groups, and manage their own time, projects, workload, relationships, and career path by themselves.

But not everyone likes or can be their own boss. All people could use some backup, encouragement, attention, and coaching even if they're great and autonomous professionals. Leaders need to be coaches, holding employees accountable while encouraging development and growth. That means that leaders need to be present, not absent (and indifferent, unavailable, uninformed).

The other extreme of "a bad manager" is the micro-manager who is "all over their employees". This gives people the feeling that they aren't good enough, that they are not trusted, and not appreciated. It might even lead to disengagement; leaning back because your manager overrules your decisions or work anyway. "So, why bother?"

Check your Culture

Of course, bad managers do not exist in a vacuum. They are part of the culture, especially if it's not just one individual. Why are absent or micro-managers the norm? Does your culture stimulate or tolerate such managers? What would they need to change their style to a more coaching way of leading employees?

It can be wise to check the four elements of a Positive Culture. Do we have a shared meaningful purpose, collaboration, positive awareness, and learning & autonomy? Read more about the four elements of a Positive Culture.

Many studies support that these are the features that engaged professionals are looking for. Research supports the need for fulfillment. A purpose-driven organization can help do just that, as Harvard Business Review documented: "Gerry Anderson of DTE Energy made a video that articulated his employees’ higher purpose. It showed DTE’s truck drivers, plant operators, corporate leaders, and many others on the job and described the impact of their work on the well-being of the community—the factory workers, teachers, and doctors who needed the energy DTE generated. The first group of professional employees to see the video gave it a standing ovation. Never before had their work been framed as a meaningful contribution to the greater good."

Collaboration means peer support, engagement, trusting each other and working well together, building on each other's strengths. The positive awareness refers to the positive mindset that helps to focus on what is working well and how to amplify that. It's a great, solution-oriented approach that builds high-performance teams. Learning and autonomy are crucial for the modern agile workplace as described above. It means that employees apply self-leadership and navigate their own purpose, jobs and careers.

For both leadership and culture goes that they shouldn't be "too little nor too much". It's a balance between absence and dominance. Positive leaders and cultures have a facilitating presence. They facilitate people, results, and the purpose. As such they are (a) present.

  1. Does your culture stimulate or tolerate absent managers or micro-managers?
  2. What would managers need to become more coaching leaders focused on results?
  3. Does your culture embrace a shared meaningful purpose, collaboration, positive awareness, and learning & autonomy?
  4. Checking this - what needs to change? Keep track of your retention and turnover rates over time!

Learn to develop a positive, productive culture in the Positive Culture Academy

© Marcella Bremer, 2019. All rights reserved.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.