Cultivate Right Culture to Retain Employees

November 30, 1998 · by Brian McMullen

With above-market compensation packages dangled regularly before their eyes, holding on to your rising stars has never been more difficult. Brian McMullen offers a non-financial solution.

The advent of the information age and the birth of the knowledge worker have increased business' dependence on top performing employees. Some forward-thinking businesses are taking a different approach to attracting and retaining their most precious resource.

Organizations new and old are creating corporate cultures that break down old school command-and-control management styles in an effort to model themselves after the dynamics of a learning organization. Given the tight labor market how do companies attract and retain top performers? Many companies are realizing that employee retention can be a tremendous competitive advantage. Thus, the development of a corporate culture is no longer something that just happens --it is a tool that is used to instill excitement, pride and a sense of ownership in employees throughout the organization. But keep in mind, culture can have either a positive or a negative impact on a company's ability to attract and retain top performers. How does your company's culture measure up? The following points describe some common attributes of successful cultures:

During a reflection of your company's culture, it is also important to identify the anti-cultural attributes of your organization. In other words, what attributes of your culture are counter-productive to building the organization that should be eliminated? One way to reduce the occurrence of anti-cultural behavior is to develop a practice of identifying when it happens and use the culture's peer pressure to minimize the occurrence of the behavior. For example, pagers and cellular phones ringing during meetings could be an anti-cultural behavior. One way to reduce the occurrence of this behavior is to issue yellow cards to all employees, and when someone's cell phone rings during a meeting employees can yellow card their colleague's anti-cultural behavior.

The recruitment and retention of people has become a vicious circle. Not only is it costly to find and train talented individuals, but as salary expectations continue to rise it is expensive to hold onto those employees.

Any edge a company can develop to the work experience for its people is also a powerful tool for attracting the most sought-after job candidates. Organizations that are successful at developing strong corporate cultures will be able to attract and retain people while benefiting from the intellectual capital payoff of low employee turnover.

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