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Great Cultures Promote Candidate/Employee Retention?

Retaining Talent

Companies with great cultures know their cultures promote and reward employee retention.  However, most companies don’t know or understand their cultures repel employees from both applying and/or staying.  Reversing the talent drain by creating a culture of candidate retention will take time.  It took a long time to produce existing negative talent results.  Clearly this will not happen within a quarter and maybe not within a year.  There is no short term solution to a problem that has taken years or decades to develop and fester. This also appears to have gone hand in hand with the short CEO and C-level life cycle within organizations.  Short cycle reductions in costs and boosts in profit were great for shareholders, CEOs and other C-level performance bonus structures.  However, they have been a catastrophe for their employees and employment in general.

Workers have now been through decades of cuts, layoffs and downsizing effecting their own, their friends, family, parent’s or grandparent’s livelihood and futures.  They are looking for a different type of employment home.  They want to be treated very differently from how they are being or have been treated.  Because no one is listening to them or seems to care, quitting, not applying, work stoppages or organizing are the few tools available to them!  Whether a conscious choice, or the ever limiting choice of downsizing and cuts favoring financial or LEAN data, abandoning your people, your talent, by not listening, caring or not addressing their issues is a choice. Yet companies seem to live in fear of union organization drives even though they have created, and continue to create, the negative workforce environments driving the workforce to unionize!

As Jim Harter of Gallup explains, in the article,” Employee Engagement Isn’t Getting Better”,  “Engagement Largely Comes Down To Whether People Have A Manager Who Cares About Them, Grows Them And Appreciates Them.” Then there is the uniquely U.S. anti-work-life balance phenomenon where 50% of workers are literally discouraged from taking vacations or not being allowed to be on vacation without staying connected to work. In contrast, when Google began offering unlimited vacation time, a number of employers followed.  However, when analyzed and followed, Google recently reported changing to mandatory vacations, because unlimited vacation time failed to produce enough R&R!

Correcting negative or poisonous cultures will require positive programs with internal and external Public Relations (PR), promotion, advertising, marketing and recognition efforts, feedback and making adjustments to promote a positive internal perception of the company reputation.  It isn’t that great companies are so successful they can afford their great cultures and employee programs (although they can), rather, their great cultures and employee programs helped make them the successes they are (so they can). This is what accomplished and caring Talent, People and Culture driven CEOs, COOs, CPOs, CHROs and/or HR heads do.  It will also take longer (and cost more) to change a very poor or poisonous culture the longer it has existed, but there are almost immediate offsets and payoffs. This is not remotely in the sphere of Finance’s expertise or strengths.    Unfortunately, we can see finance and LEAN leadership will never be convinced.

What can be done?  Change!  The good news is there are no cost baby steps to begin the change process.  Ask and learn from the experienced and successful!  It’s a long road but relatively simple!  It is a choice!  Those choices are:

  1. Begin the change now, or, try to change later when others have already begun the process, and be even further behind.
  2. Try to make changes without understanding people’s needs or seeking their input, thinking it will work. It will not.  Since finance still believes in the finance way, not the people way, they will create even more negativity and distrust, not less.  This will simply create more issues needing to be undone later, if it’s not too late.
  3. Or, don’t change, and watch the slow downward spiral to a bottom tier performer scratching and fighting for every dollar, person and customer they hope will get them by another year. Maybe some are close or already there!  Without great talent, these organizations then buy more technology and hire consultants creating even more non-communication and driving a deeper wedge between itself and its people.  This is a crystal ball look into the future few will show and tell and most will choose to ignore.  It’s a choice!  Your choice!

When contemplating an increase in compensation and benefits, called “Total Pay” and “Total Rewards” or “Total Compensation” in progressed organizations, remember, paying at the mid-point, means half of those surveyed pay more….maybe much more!  Assuming surveys are even done, without the count, data and values (weighted) for the low end, the mid-point of a compensation survey can be artificially skewed low and high. Unfortunately, finance will never be convinced because they live by costs, data and numbers not people, engagement and culture.

After decades of CFO/Finance led HR policies and employment programs, it isn’t that they don’t care.  They do care about the P/L, but not actually about the people.  They don’t know where to start, what questions to ask or where to look if they were even to start thinking about real change. They are numbers and ledger driven, not people and talent driven.  They have after the fact data indicating there is a talent attraction and retention problem, not why they have it.  It is the culture they created and the CEO or leader who encouraged and/or allowed it!  There are solutions.  Unfortunately, it is so foreign to poorly led culture and performance, they will never be convinced.  Without the right changes they will continue to have poor talent attraction, application, retention and performance results.  It is the choices made. It has always been!

Next:  High Performance Cultures and a Great Workplace Are a Choice?  

Two Examples of Opposite Culture Approaches to the Same Financial Challenge.

John Hagen

With over 30 Years of high-level engagement he leads executive recruitment for Retail (Start-up, Brick and Mortar, e-, Holding, Development, Conglomerate); Human Resources/Culture/Talent/Acquisition; VC / PE & Banking Investment and Development; Warehousing, Shipping/Logistics/Fulfillment/Transportation; Manufacturing (apparel, consumer goods, decor, electronics, high-tech, industrial durable and non-durable0); Real Estate Development Management and Business Services industry segments. He has headed high-level consulting programs to industry and the highly confidential recruitment of hundreds of C-level, divisional, regional leaders supporting the various industries within his corporate and company operations. He has partnered with U.S., Canadian, LATAM, EU and Asian brands in critical external executive search assessments for VP levels executives and above. Confidentiality, honesty, integrity, innovation, humor and a laser like sense of cultural match are the hallmarks of his work.

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