5 tips for improving company culture to attract and keep talent

5 tips for improving company culture to attract and keep talentWhen running any type of modern business there are so many balls flying at you all the time that you need to be an octopus just to keep them all in the air. When you’re so focused on the day-to-day, company culture can often take a back seat.

But neglecting company culture can have detrimental effects for your business, and lead to high employee turnover, which can be incredibly costly.

So how do you create a company culture that makes employees productive and loyal?

Here are our top 5 tips to improve your company culture and keep extraordinary talent.

1. Encourage diversity

There is a distinct diversity problem in Australia, particularly when it comes to tech. According to the Observer, women own only 5 per cent of start-ups, and they hold only 25 per cent of computing jobs, down from a peak of 36 per cent in 1991. And it’s not just women; minority groups are also typically underrepresented.

Creating diverse workplaces is not just about fairness and equality. It also makes good business sense. Numerous studies have shown that diverse teams perform better than homogenous ones, and one venture capitalist found that companies with at least one female founder performed 63% better than those with all-male founding teams.

Melinda Gates, speaking at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, outlined the dangers of non-diverse workforces: “Everyone suffers when a woman or a minority who is a woman does not have a seat at the table. Without them, we are failing to leverage the full force of our collective brain power. We’re missing out on better products, we’re missing out on faster innovation and a more prosperous and productive future for everyone.”

There is evidence that supports the notion that diverse workplaces are attractive to employees – according to a survey by IBM, 22% said “working with a diverse group of people” was one of the long-term career goals most important to them.

2. Recognise and reward employees’ achievements

A company culture that shows they recognise and value people’s contributions will have higher retention rates, and lower costs associated with recruitment. One organisation found that companies with recognition programs are highly effective at improving employee engagement and have 31 per cent lower voluntary turnover than their peers with ineffective recognition programs.

Companies with these programs are often recognised as being appealing places to work. Atlassian, for example, have a system whereby any staff member can give their colleagues ‘Kudos’ – which includes a gift and a handwritten card – for a job well done, without needing the approval of management. Around 11 per cent of staff members receive a Kudos each week. They may also be awarded ‘Big Kudos’ for significant achievements, which may include a voucher for a fine-dining restaurant, Red Balloon experience or even a holiday. In 2015, Atlassian was awarded the top spot in the “BRW Best place to Work for companies with 100 or more employees” list.

Health company Swisse also have a strong focus on keeping employees happy and engaged. This includes access to free yoga and personal training classes, daily meditation sessions and an extra “health and happiness” leave day each month if the employee delivers on a specified benchmark. Last year, Swisse was recognised as an Employer of Choice in The Australian Business Awards 2016.

3. Focus on employee growth

As humans, we all want to grow, develop new skills, and be given opportunities to advance. A company culture that focuses on professional development means employees are better skilled, more motivated, more fulfilled and more loyal.

Professional development, however, is not about one-size-fits-all courses. It can come in many forms. Empowering highly experienced employees to become mentors, for example, is a great way to promote knowledge sharing within the company and pass on skills. SAGE Automation CEO Adrian Fahey employs a “70/20/10” approach, where 70 per cent of a professional development plan (PDP) is focused on work experience, 20 per cent is focused on individual mentoring and 10 per cent is focused on formal training.

Whatever your approach, the most important thing is to ensure employees have ownership over their own development plan. This will make them more engaged, and therefore more productive.

And, remember, if they succeed, so too does your business.

4. Empower employees to take risks

Things can turn on a dime in today’s world, and in order to stay ahead of the curve, businesses need to be innovative and agile. This is particularly important when it comes to implementing digital transformation.

Too often, though, companies cultivate a culture that encourage employees to be risk averse, by punishing failures. But the fact of the matter is that innovation comes hand in hand with failure. Inevitably, mistakes will be made when trying something for the first time, and it is up to leaders to use these setbacks as opportunities to learn and move forward.

Giving employees leeway to try new things, without having to get management’s approval or fear of being reprimanded, makes them feel empowered and allows them to test things quickly and on a small scale. Employees need the freedom to be creative in order to innovate.

At Intelledox, the last Friday of every month is “Innovation Day”. This is a day that staff are completely free to work on any project they want – whether it’s directly related to the business or not. They will then gather to discuss what they are working on, encouraging an exchange of ideas and giving others an opportunity to learn from their experiences.

There is evidence that workplaces that conform to the status quo may have a higher attrition rate. According to a survey by IBM, “entering the fast lane” – that is, making more money and working in a more creative, innovative environment – was overwhelmingly cited as the top reason for changing jobs.

5. Give employees the tools they need to do their jobs well

You can have the best employees in the business, but if your systems are less-than-stellar, they are not going to be producing the best work. Employees need systems and technologies that are dependable, user-friendly and functional.

Technology can also help enforce aspects of company culture. For example, Collaboration tools, like Slack or Atlassian Confluence, can open up more lines of communication and streamline workflows, so teams can work more efficiently.

Automation tools, like HubSpot, can also reduce time spent doing repetitive administrative tasks, leaving employees more time to do the deeper, more creative work, which will make them feel more fulfilled in their roles and also foster more innovation.

In short, technology can be game-changer – if it’s the right fit for your business. However, picking the right software for your business is not always easy. With so many options and similar sounding features, how do you know which is the best? Our 7-step checklist How to choose the right software for your business can help. Download it now!

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