Why Corporate Culture Needs a Makeover

Why is it considered fashionable to quit your corporate job?

And where does this fad come from to begin with?

Research shows that more American workers are quitting their jobs compared to any other recorded time.  And no surprise, millennials accounted for half of these resignations, at a staggering 51 percent! This was followed by Generation X, at 25 percent and Baby Boomers next, at 19 percent. It has been well documented that millennials value company loyalty less than previous generations. In fact, research indicates that only half of them plan to be at their current company in a year’s time (which makes perfect sense, given the 51 percent figure).

It is as clear as ever that employees of today need more than what is currently being offered to keep them committed to a company. So if leaving your corporate job is the new fad, maybe we need to look at corporate culture and unravel what makes the prospect of leaving it so irresistible.

What is it about corporate culture?

In my experience, typical corporate culture is clouded with feel good, fluffy ideas and a lot of empty promises. All great companies strive for it, but it’s sadly rare to see them deliver it well. Your company culture is the outcome of the decisions that those in your organization make, and it is the input for the decisions in the future. Company culture cannot be transferred, installed, or added . It can only evolve from the culture you already have within your company. In fact, even if you’re a sole entrepreneur, the starting conditions for your company culture have already been set in motion in YOU and your personal values as the founder, even if the company doesn’t exist yet.

Shawn Anchor, the world’s expert on workplace happiness, and author of The Happiness Advantage, is a major advocate for – no prizes for guessing – happiness! He believes that happiness is a precursor to organizational success, and to support his theory, he researched the benefits of a happy workforce. He found that:

  • Sales go up by 37%
  • Productivity will increase by 31%
  • Accuracy on tasks improves by 19%

He also says that there will be huge improvements in health and quality of life for your employees.

Better engagement, better results

Workplace satisfaction and happiness comes under the purview of ‘employee engagement. Engagement is the ability to be present, focused, and energized – it is more than simply being satisfied or even happy in a job. But what engagement does is more profound than just a definition. When you’re engaged, it infuses everything you do with purpose, energy, and enthusiasm. Engaged people go the extra mile and deliver above and beyond what is expected, stemming from a sense of being a part of something larger than themselves. They have purpose. Purpose is the foundation of engagement, it is the vital element that makes an engaged organization possible and the first step to creating an engaged culture. If people are emotionally invested in the success of the company they work for, are passionate about its vision, aware of and actively working towards company-wide goals, and see their work itself as fulfilling, they are engaged at work.

While engagement is everyone’s responsibility, through temperament, behavior, work ethic, or attendance, it is the business leaders and managers that have the greatest impact on happiness and the biggest responsibility to create the right culture to facilitate it. As a founder or leader, you may think of replicating the engagement success of Silicon Valley giants such as Google and offer amazing perks like free massages, great food and state-of-the-art gyms. This approach is likely to do wonders for recruitment drives, but it will also cost a fortune and in the long run, it won’t help to boost business performance.

Organizational culture is directly linked to what your company represents. Southwest Airlines, and Zappos are some examples of top businesses to work for in the USA, a big part of that comes down to their culture. It typically involves a family-oriented feel, with large cookouts in the summer and exciting group trips in winter months. These types of social rewards don’t just keep employees happy, but they result in dedication and hard work, or as we call it – engagement.

Where do we go from here

Achieving better engagement requires a sincere interest in people. People are what make up your organization, and employees respond positively to genuine encouragement, respect and interest in the contribution they are making. It requires a more humanist approach to leadership and decision making, moving from a controlling, instruction-led mindset to a more open and dynamic one that encourages and trusts people to take responsibility and ownership. If companies want to see genuine increases in employee motivation, the change needs to come from the top – with conscious care and conviction.