To kick off a recent webinar, Jeffrey Scott asked a simple question: If you have a bucket and it has a hole in it, what do you do?
Do you keep pouring water in the bucket, or do you stop pouring in water, so that you can plug the hole? The answer is painfully obvious, right? Plug the hole!
Now imagine that the bucket is full of your staff, and the hole in the bucket—the reason why you can’t keep the bucket full in the first place—is your company culture. What do you do then?
In theory, you’d fix the culture and plug the hole before investing resources into filling it. And yet, employers are convinced that they have a recruiting problem, and never stop to consider the possibility of a retention problem.
Which is why Jeffrey spent the majority of his time in the webinar focused on building a great company culture (plugging the hole) instead of on recruiting tactics (pouring water in).
“The urgency is in recruiting,” he said, “but the magic is in retention.”
Company Culture: Measure, Improve & Repeat
“What you pay attention to is what gets traction,” Jeffrey said in the webinar. “Are you taking a temperature on your company culture?”
Measuring company culture can be done in a lot of different ways, but one of the easiest ways to get started is by surveying your employees. Jeffrey suggests doing this at least a couple times a year to find out where you’re doing well, and to identify the holes in your bucket that need to be plugged.
Next—and this part is crucial—fix the problems your employees identify. Quickly. Then repeat the process of asking for feedback and making improvements. As you demonstrate your commitment to fixing issues, they’ll respond in kind with more frequent and better feedback.
7 Ways to Improve Company Culture
According to Jeffrey, a big piece of building a great company culture is creating opportunities for employees to strengthen bonds with each other, with leadership, and with their own selves. Here are some things that many of Jeffrey’s clients are doing to grow and promote their company culture that you can also implement in your organization:
1. Monthly activities
Organizing monthly team-building activities (like a company sponsored breakfast or volunteering at a local non-profit organization) demonstrates how much you appreciate your employees, and gives them the opportunity to socialize outside of the work duties. For more inspiration, check out this article with nine team-building activities that will resonate with deskless workers.
2. Hands-on training
In addition to adequate training during an employee’s onboarding phase, Jeffrey suggests holding a “training rodeo” a couple times a year for all employees, or some kind of ongoing training program that’s embedded in the day-to-day and impacts everyone. This kind of continuous improvement demonstrates to employees that you’re re-investing in them—which Jeffrey says is crucial to creating a company culture where people want to stay working.
3. Personal touches from the owner
Even the smallest nod from the owner means more to employees than you could possibly know or imagine. Check in on them. Ask them how their family is doing. Offer to mentor them if they have a desire to move up in the company. Give them a public shout-out for a job well done. Any kind of personal recognition or acknowledgement from the owner and leadership team will go a long way in job satisfaction.
During the webinar, Jeffrey scrunched up his face and called out those owners who still take the old-fashioned approach to benefits and compensation.
“Work for me for 10 years and I’ll give you another week of vacation!” he grumbled.
That may have worked in the past, but Jeffrey said things have to move quicker for today’s workforce, pointing to the quid pro quo nature of work. The expectation is that if someone is present and working, they get benefits. You can increase those benefits over time, but don’t make someone wait months upon months to first access them.
“And don’t assume you know what they want,” he added. “Ask them! PTO and insurance are the big ones, but you might be surprised what your people ask for.”
5. Quick turn around on issues
This is part of the “Measure, Improve, Repeat” process described earlier - the point being to make those improvements as quickly as possible. As issues come up in your organization, the faster you address them for employees (who are your internal clients), the better culture you’re going to have. You want your employees to know and believe that if they tell you something, you will address it.
When it comes to holding employees accountable to the job they perform, Jeffrey’s clients often throw their hands up in the air in frustration, claiming they can’t hold people accountable to the work when they can’t even get them to show up on time!
But, Jeffrey says, accountability is just as much a “carrot” as it is a “stick” in terms of motivating employees to do good work.
“Employees are much more likely to stay when they have clear boundaries and expectations,” Jeffrey explained. “People are attracted to working and living in a place where there's no chaos, where things are organized and the rules are clear.”
In other words, holding everyone accountable is what creates the culture. It’s what makes them commit to you, and what makes them want to do a better job.
Although flexibility in the workplace should have always been part of the discussion, Jeffrey says it’s more important to workers now than ever. He cautions that giving workers flexibility doesn’t mean throwing out the rules—and certainly don’t budge on your mission, vision and values—but rather, it means being flexible in how you organize and let people have control over their job.
“Flexibility,” Jeffrey said, “is allowing people to grow to a new level.”
The rest of the webinar covers how to create a culture of shared leadership, how to foster an owner mindset in every employee, and includes a guest appearance from the VP of Human Resources and Administration at Landesign, one of Jeffrey’s clients. Click here to see the whole presentation!