It has often been said that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. It can also be said that people quit their work culture, even when they love their jobs.
Any workplace, regardless of size, should be the breeding ground of high-potential employees. Instead, many companies are plagued with disgruntled employees, low morale, sub-standard performance, and staggering employee turnover rates. Research studies have identified several reasons why and they all have a common denominator: the workplace culture.
For success, employers must understand how workplace culture either stimulates or hinders growth so that they can identify and implement strategies that nurture the growth and retention of high-potential employees.
What is Workplace Culture Analysis?
All companies have a culture, but workplace culture analysis is what many organizations are missing. Without this introspective look at the overall work environment, it’s difficult determining the strengths and weaknesses of the company. Extracting the data from surveys, accepting the results, and taking corrective action are what make workplace culture analysis valuable.
This analysis design should include professional development as a measurement component. Many workplace surveys leave this out, but it’s necessary to fully understand the workforce. Employers should know if their company culture encourages professional development and operates with the intention of growing high-potential employees. They should know if they are overseeing a workforce that is empowered to succeed or subdued.
Workplace culture analysis requires change.
It’s possible that a lack of change prevents ambition in employees who are eager to prove themselves. Thus, approaching culture analysis with the expectation of change is vital to its effectiveness. This kind of analysis will help employers identify things in the work environment that promote employee growth and development while also highlighting what hinders employee potential.
Although change is not always easy, it is necessary. The companies improving their operations, increasing retention, and developing a healthy bottom line take the initiative to assess the condition of the company internally. Although the results might not always be favorable, companies utilize them to help create a stronger and more productive culture.
Management Sets the Tone
The key to workplace culture analysis is honesty, acceptance and accountability from the management team. Management sets the tone of the culture and enforces expectations in the workplace. They must be engaged in the culture to really experience the tone of the workplace. Many companies are so absorbed with the bottom line, budgets and/or compliance, that they’re oblivious to what’s happening. By the time they realize it, they are already in a state of emergency.
There are also leaders who mistakenly believe that it’s not a priority to nurture their workforce. They might be aware of the low morale, lack of trust and fleeting accountability, but don’t take action. Even worse, they believe that if their employees aren’t happy, they can be replaced. If a management team is operating using this thought process, they’re somewhat disengaged themselves.
Cultivating a Workplace Culture
It’s necessary to cultivate a positive and enjoyable work culture. The happier and more professionally-fulfilled the workforce, the more productive and profitable a company is. A company is only as successful as those who work for them.
For seven consecutive years, Zappos, an online shoe and clothing phenomenon, has landed on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. For them, their culture is about empowering people through growth and learning opportunities.
Examining processes and other company practices that impede employee growth is essential for developing a positive culture. It is imperative to identify what has the potential to detract learning and development. Management needs to be aware of what discourages its high-potential and opportunity-seeking employees. Even without employee engagement surveys, they should know what drives productivity and kills morale. They should already understand why all the “good” people go, leaving them with disengaged employees. As such, management must be held accountable for staying in-tune with the personality of the organization, knowing the attitudes and beliefs of the employees, facilitating change, and reshaping the culture.
Maintaining a Workplace Culture
Periodic evaluations help maintain and nurture a healthy workplace culture. It is a disservice to an organization and its employees to solicit feedback and do nothing with it. This sends the message that management doesn’t care about their employees. Thus, trust is jeopardized, engagement will waiver, and morale will plummet.
Depending on the level of trust in the organization, some employees will complete the survey honestly, some will hold back their true opinions, and some won’t complete it at all. Lack of trust, coupled with fear, is the number one reason employees don’t complete employee engagement surveys honestly. Employees fear admitting they’re unhappy with their work culture, how they feel about their managers and the disappointment felt with company benefits and advancement opportunities. In this instance, the data collected is only as good as the data received.
When it comes to developing high-potential employees, companies should possess a foundation for an enjoyable culture. Are there managers who can coach and build teams that work well together? Do employees feel respected and valued? Is there an open-door policy and atmosphere of support? Does the company encourage learning and growth? Is there transparency that encourages employees to trust the management team and feel good about their future and the company’s? These are conditions that provide a firm foundation for building a healthy, productive, employee-focused work culture where high-potential employees can flourish.
Companies who really value their employees will do what they need to keep them. Thinking of employees as an expense rather than an asset is detrimental to maintaining a high-performing workplace. Management teams that understand the benefit of nurturing employees who show high potential are strategic about creating opportunities for them to develop and sharpen skills. Successful companies position employee development at the top of their strategic and succession plans.
How Management Plays a Role
Although it may be uncomfortable for the executive team, the workplace culture analysis should evaluate management relationships with their team, as well as benefits and compensation, resources to help employees succeed, interpersonal attitudes and behaviors, and professional development opportunities. Leaders should be quicker to listen and slower to dismiss. For example, it must be addressed if employees are unhappy about the relationship with their manager, or if managers don’t treat their team well and don’t encourage them to gain new skills or seek internal opportunities for growth.
Upper management and HR need to evaluate how managers are selected and trained. Many organizations have people in positions they aren’t qualified for. These people are promoted or hired without having training in management or possessing the skills to effectively supervise a team. This hurts the workforce tremendously and syphons credibility from the culture.
Length of service alone should not qualify someone for a management role. High-potential employees are stifled and stagnated when they work for bosses who don’t know how to coach them to excel. This type of culture results in staggering turnover rates because it doesn’t offer any promise.
Factoring in Employees’ Needs
High-potential employees won’t stick around if they find themselves working for a company that doesn’t offer attractive professional development opportunities, among other things. This could be a factor on the front-end of attracting or retaining high-potential employees. Many notably talented professionals are enticed by compensation and benefits packages and will evaluate these offerings before joining an organization. Those who have already accepted employment may have the hopes of being compensated based on merit as their tenure with the company increases. Therefore, compensation and benefits should be on management’s list of culture-developing strategies.
Resources available to employees should also be considered. Success-driven employees are known for going above and beyond what is required of them. They are known to be dependable and productive in their roles. Although these employees typically embrace the company’s mission and take personal responsibility for carrying it out, it is unlikely that they can be excel at their jobs without the adequate resources. An organization that isn’t committed to ensuring their employees have what they need to succeed won’t operate in high-gear or produce employees who have the potential to grow and advance. Lack of resources, financial and non-financial, impede company growth overall.
The average, progressive-minded employee has expectations of advancement when they start at a new company. Today’s workforce is getting younger so it’s important to develop a culture that will sustain their insatiable appetite to grow in their profession. If someone leaves a company with the same skills and qualifications they started with, they wasted time that could have been spent working for a company that appreciated and nurtured their talent.
Investing in programs and other activities that facilitate a learning and development driven culture makes more sense financially than spending money to repeatedly fill the same positions. Money invested into the company to cultivate a high-performing workforce that will in return help the organization reach its goals is money well spent.