3 Tips for Building a Thriving Company Culture
This trio of suggestions will help you avoid, and possibly capitalize on, high turnover.
Strong company culture is a vital building block for fostering an environment in which employees will be happy, productive and more likely to stick with your business for the long haul. While this might seems basic enough for trendy startups, some legacy industries have long had to deal with stubbornly high turnover rates. For example, data compiled by National Restaurant News in 2015 revealed a turnover rate in the overall hospitality buinsess of 72.1 percent, with a "quit rate" of 50.3 percent.
But hospitality is far from the only industry that struggles with this tendency, nor does that seeming inevitability mean company culture should take a back seat. On the contrary, it might help alleviate this recurring issue. Here are three suggestions that could help turn that hope into a reality.
1. Consistent communication.
In a high-turnover environment, it can be hard to keep the entire team on track with company culture. That's why communicating and reinforcing core organizational values should occur more often than it might for a business with more traditional rates. Communicating key aspects of culture in settings such as team meetings, offsite visits, one-on-one meetings and even via text messages will help reinforce expectations so that everyone stays on the same page. Naturally, this means that business leaders must set the example in their words and actions, ensuring that the culture becomes ingrained from top to bottom, including hiring for cultural fit.
Diverse thoughts and opinions should still be welcomed, as this can boost innovation and productivity. But ultimately, business owners should look for employees who share the work ethic and career aspirations that will allow them to gel with the rest of the team.
2. Focus on shaping careers.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Steve Grau, CEO of patiet-transport provider Royal Ambulance. Grau was just ranked 25th among 50 peers on Glassdoor's Top CEOs of 2019 for small- and medium-sized businesses, and during our email conversation, he noted, "Our industry sees very high turnover, because EMTs and first responders deal with stressful situations and long hours."
He continued, "Aside from the risk of burnout, the nature of our industry means that new hires will often only stay with a company for a year or less before moving on. Rather than try to fight this, our VP of HR helped us establish a system where we can become a foundation for their career. We use field-training officers as mentors, provide scholarships for ongoing industry education and so on. We create an environment where learning and growth are encouraged, regardless of whether someone's career will continue with us or not."
As a result of this educational mindset, 55 percent of Grau's new hires actually come from employee referrals. When you show your employees that you care about their career goals, they become more invested in their work, so look for ways that you can train folks with the goal improving their skills and abilities. This way, even if they don't stay with your company, they will still leave with a positive impression, one that could easily pay dividends in terms of acquiring future talent.
3. Accept that innovation can come from anywhere.
Working in a high-turnover industry can actually serve as an advantage, since new hires bring in a wider range of experiences, which puts them in a better position to help you identify ways to improve your business. Companies with a strong culture understand that new ideas and innovations don't always come from board meetings.
Don't be afraid to give lower-level employees in your organization greater responsibilities. Make them part of a team working on a key problem. Or be like Google, which gives its team members free time to work on projects or problems that interest them. Not only will this further the development of employees' new skills, but it will strengthen your reputation in the industry. When potential employees realize that their voice can make a difference at the highest level, they will be far more interested in contributing to your organization.
All in all....
Improving company culture doesn't necessarily mean that the challenges of turnover will go away. For some businesses, turnover will be a constant force due to the nature of the industry. But as you build an attractive environment in which people can strengthen skills and gain valuable experience, you will be able to onboard the best and brightest to help you chart a steadier course for the future.
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