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updated: 1/21/2021 2:54 PM

Creating a culture worth keeping requires leadership

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  • Dave Gromacki

    Dave Gromacki

By Dave Gromacki

The past year has inspired people everywhere to think about the things they want most from their employers. At the top of that list is an outstanding company culture.

Culture is the environment employers create for their employees. It involves the organization's leadership, values, traditions, beliefs, behaviors and attitudes that make up the workplace.

So what's important to employees when gauging if their company's culture is right for them? What is a culture that employers can offer that's worth keeping? The answers are really important because they directly affect if employees stay put or leave for someplace with a better cultural fit. And it's been predicted that in 2021 there will be a lot of employment changes based solely on culture.

A crucial point to consider is leadership. Leaders provide a clear view into the company's culture. How they treat their people speaks volumes. Today, with so much of the workforce feeling burned out, leaders need to take the time to care about their wants and needs. Leaders should be interested in continually developing employees while recognizing and rewarding them for a job well done. These leadership qualities directly impact an organization's culture.

Another big one is plenty of available growth opportunities. A culture where you can upskill and reskill talent is a win-win for everyone. And the bonus prize: providing a culture where people are more likely to find job satisfaction and fulfillment (like with growth opportunities) enhances the employee experience, which leads to retention.

Next, look at staff participation when it comes to making decisions. Are everyone's suggestions heard, not just management's? Are people empowered to make decisions within their area of expertise? Is the information shared so the best decisions can be made? New or different ideas can be unsettling to existing processes, but they are critical for a business to learn and advance. A company that welcomes different or difficult input has the mark of a great culture.

Flexibility. It's all the rage at work these days. When flexibility is in play, employee morale is up and stress levels are down. Flexibility offers the opportunity to create a work-life blend that translates to commitment at work and increased productivity.

Here's where employers need a willingness to adapt and change with options like allowing work from home arrangements or working nontraditional hours. When employees are given flexibility, we find that engagement results on a survey most always show an improved culture.

How are your company's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts looking? A healthy culture embraces DEI so that employees can go to work being their true selves, which fosters engagement, productivity and innovation. A DEI-driven culture moves past checking boxes to a holistic and human-centered approach that promotes ownership of the culture from top to bottom. Cultures are stronger when they have more diversity of people and thought, and support individuals to contribute to their fullest potential.

The bottom line is employers will find it impossible to hire and retain good talent without a stellar culture, which is now a "must-have" of employees around the globe. Organizations that put the time and effort into driving a successful culture will navigate 2021 much more successfully.

• Dave Gromacki is general manager of Northern Illinois for MRA.