A poor workplace culture? Talent leaders take note: danger ahead

Patrice Burnside, Global Digital Marketing Manager

Patrice Burnside, Global Digital Marketing Manager, reflects on the importance of nailing workplace culture for the sake of an enterprise’s reputation online and beyond.

Workplace culture drives employee engagement. It can send a company performance skyrocketing, or nosediving.

A great workplace culture cultivates highly engaged employees. Without a motivated workforce, productivity suffers. Your bottom line suffers. Employees and customers suffer.

A poor workplace culture? The ramifications are huge.

“Having a 1-star higher rating on Glassdoor predicts about a 1 percent higher annual return on company assets,” according to statistically significant research on Glassdoor.

But the results don’t end there.

The same research identified an annual alpha (or, extra stock market return) of 16 percent on average for an equally-weighted stock portfolio at companies with higher employee satisfaction.

Shocked? Surprised? Dismayed? Delighted?

Whatever your reaction, if business leaders look the other way when corporate culture is crumbling, your talent function will suffer in a big way. The wider market will take notice. Your vacancies will remain vacant longer, and when you do manage to fill them, they won’t stay that way for long.

 

Is your workplace culture hiding some stinky secrets?

Here’s the thing: a poor workplace culture can no longer be contained within the walls of your business premises.

Thanks to sites such as Glassdoor, the stench of a bad place to work wafts well beyond the domain of current employees, and into the minds of prospective candidates.

So, for example, if bullying is commonplace, and no one’s doing anything about it, you’d better believe the wider talent pool will be quick to catch on. These issues, if indeed they hold an element of truth, tend to reveal themselves in recurring themes on employee reviews.

warning about employee engagement

If you don’t look after internal employee engagement, external candidates will quickly pick up on the warning signs.

Even a smattering of reviews throwing up red flags can be enough to scare away some of the really great people who would otherwise help rocket your business to the moon. There must be enough good stuff in these reviews to balance any overtones of a poor company culture.

Prospective candidates, whether they come from active or passive pools, will evaluate these views and ask: do I want to find myself in the same situation as the writer(s) of these reviews?

Top candidates tend to have the luxury of choice, particularly in competitive markets where key skill sets are niche. There would have to be a seriously compelling incentive on the table to counteract the detracting vibe of a negative work culture.

After all, the digital representation of a negative workplace culture can spook candidates into ghosting the application process.

Unfortunately, when you’re responsible for attracting and retaining top talent, a stinky workplace culture is bound to hamper your efforts and add a certain amount of unnecessary strain to your life at work. It’s so desperately not cool, isn’t it?

Except, at least, it doesn’t have to be desperate.

And, as an incredible people leader, you can definitely do something about it.

 

Workplace culture: the path towards change

Workplaces can change. They can improve. They can reform.

But you need to first understand the change required. Speak with your employees. Survey their views. Assess their priorities. But — and this is key — only do so if you plan on doing something about what you’re about to learn. Anything else is a waste of everyone’s time and effort. If we fail to take action on these valuable insights, we risk causing serious harm to our departmental image across the business.

Stronger employee engagement begins with active listening.

While it’s true that some people simply long to have their views heard and acknowledged, it’s just as important that they understand the role that their views have played in shaping a brighter future. If, as a result of this process, nothing of consequence changes, they need to understand why that is as well.

The process of participating in a transformation of workplace culture is critical. If we do it right, and if we do it before an employee posts a public review of the workplace, then it’s entirely possible that the review will reflect your workplace in a more positive one.

At a minimum, the reviewer may be more inclined to project a certain perspective of understanding. The review may also include more reflection on the merits of your workplace.

Workplace culture: we’ve got to get it right.

Depending on the maturity of your business and other factors, it may not happen overnight. Nonetheless, identify the levers you can pull, and begin pulling them today.

Both the near-term happiness of your people, and the long-term success of your enterprise, are at stake.

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