How to Build a Company Culture That Retains Loyal Employees

Part one of a two-part series that will help you avoid staff turnover amid 'The Great Resignation'.

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By Patti Fletcher

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It should go without saying that building a company where your employees feel like they belong is to everyone's benefit. Not only is your workforce happier, but they also become more permanent — you will experience far less turnover. But how do you build this kind of culture?

After two years of a pandemic, people are reevaluating their purpose and relationship with work. As a result, we are seeing valuable workers voluntarily leaving their jobs in droves. They are choosing to abandon toxic workplaces that perpetuate mental burnout and less-than-desirable environments. But it's important to understand that these workers are not leaving the workplace in general; they are leaving their workplaces. And they are leaving because of the culture. As we evaluate the reasons, it's important to remember: All the things we've put into place — the values, the practices — don't mean anything if employees can't look in the mirror and say, "I belong here."

In previous years, public companies typically reported metrics like revenue per employee to the SEC, and they really focused on the things that were brought in by the hard dollar. In this case, your company was valued highly if it had significant technology or owned really good real estate. But over the last two years, the SEC's reporting has shown that companies can have the best tech and the most amazing investment in locations, but it's really the people that determine the success or failure when it comes to meeting your strategic objectives. Now, companies are having to show how they are investing in the development of their people.

Related: 5 Obstacles Keeping You from Being an Effective Leader

This is especially interesting during a time when companies are experiencing an extreme skill shortage — both in the trade and white collar worlds. There is now a need to focus on skill development, and while we absolutely must continue to develop trade skills as those are not going away, it's really the soft skills that are new motivators. People are questioning whether they can lead or turn analytical decisions into arguments that their workforce can get behind.

Research shows that when people accept new jobs, it's not just about the money. Yes, of course, the money is important, and people must be paid equitably. But people want to know that they are being supported in their professional growth. They are seeking soft skill development — not only for themselves but also for their leaders.

The fact that people are expecting more from their employers furthers this idea. For example, coders are no longer satisfied with working around-the-clock hours and being celebrated with ping pong tables and free beer. Employees no longer want to experience burnout in the workplace. They want their employers to invest in them just as much as they've invested their time and energy into that company. And on the heels of the pandemic and The Great Resignation, if employees are not satisfied, they are going to choose to leave. Given workplace shortages, the power is now with the employee and no longer in the employer.

Related: 5 Bottom Line-Boosting People Strategies

For companies with eroded cultures and startups looking to build something new, this means creating a new culture. This is the only thing that is going to keep someone at your company and bring in new people to work with your brand. At the end of the day, if people don't want to work for you, your brand doesn't matter.

When people invest in a business, they invest in the totality of that vision — efficiency, effectiveness and equality. More importantly, they invest in the people. You must have the right team in place to execute your vision. A team that feels empowered by the culture has a sense of belonging within the company. And it's this beautiful, complete vision that brings people to invest in you.

To build a company where employees feel like they want to stay, we need to build a culture of belonging — a culture that embraces individual values and worth.

Patti Fletcher

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Leadership Futurist and Gender Equity Advocate

Dr. Patti Fletcher is the author of Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold (Entrepreneur Press 2018). Dr. Patti is an enterprise tech CMO, gender equity expert, board member and keynote speaker who has spent her career at the intersection of technology, business and people.

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