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Company culture is the personality of an organization; a distinct combination of qualities feeding into how an organization defines itself. It’s nice to think of company culture this way. It’s reassuring to say, “My company is built on the pillars of collaboration, agility, responsibility, and performance (or whatever characteristics you decide upon). That’s what I believe, and that’s who we are.” But this simple definition is not enough to make company culture a reality. Since founding Clearbridge Mobile, I’ve learned that a thriving company culture involves my taking more ownership in multiple areas.
We have reached a tipping point in the modern workforce. Measuring organizational success no longer happens against traditional standards like financial performance or service value alone. Instead, organizations are assessed by their ability to create meaningful relationships with their employees. This shift is mainly a result of millennials officially becoming the largest generation in the workforce. The millennial approach to work-life balance is causing leaders to face new accountability for their company culture.
To create a company culture that attracts, retains, and cultivates loyalty among employees, leaders need to pay just as much attention to nurturing an employee environment founded on learning development, wellness, and heightened agility in benefits packages as they do revenue goals. This article explores these three areas of company culture to nurture as you grow your business and the workforce landscape continues to shift, as well as how to make the changes.
1. Promote learning development
Today, millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, and as younger generations earn more decision-making power, the workforce landscape is seeing a seismic shift in company culture models. Specifically, the younger generation feels more empowered by opportunities to gain experience, explore new roles and disciplines, and find fresh perspectives by reinventing themselves. In response, leaders need to create a culture of learning, keeping in mind if young employees can’t get a taste for a variety of experience at one company, they won’t hesitate to jump from role to role to learn and grow.
Modern careers no longer follow the long-established organizational hierarchy. Younger employees view their jobs as a series of developmental learning experiences. Many organizations recognize this shift, but still, leaders have much work to do to create culture models that offer the learning agility the new workforce craves.
The 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report sheds light on this disconnect between development programs and career paths. The report reveals that 47 percent of respondents offer development programs that adhere to defined, “corporate ladder” career paths, but 72 percent of those organization respondents don’t follow traditional career progression models. What’s worse, 54 percent of respondents said they have no learning development options in place to create new skills for their employees.
How to make the change
Creating a culture of learning begins by closing the gap between career progression pathways and the learning opportunities employees need to be successful. Leaders need to replace the notion of the corporate ladder with a culture of increased internal mobility and learning agility that allows employees to pivot rather than climb.
For CIOs, this means finding ways to embed new technologies, connected learning networks, and open knowledge-sharing systems into the culture. Leaders need to structure their company cultures to emphasize experience, new growth models, and advanced learning technologies. Today, organizations must continuously update learning and development options or risk losing dedicated staff to the pursuit of higher learning.
[ Want more advice on this? Read 7 ways to foster a culture of learning in IT. ]
2. Offer wellness benefits
Alongside learning programs, holistic wellness initiatives have been a trending conversation for a few years now. Millennials, specifically, are making a strong case to include programs that embrace physical and mental wellness in benefits and compensation offerings. On top of that, younger workers are seeking heightened agility in compensation programs where their employers offer benefits and recognition more closely in line with consistent and individualized performance. Today’s workers are looking for organizations that implement culture models focused on supporting personal development just as much as professional development.
Millennial culture takes wellness culture seriously; they want access to counseling resources, compensation for wellness expenses, and designated areas for wellness practices. Consider these statistics from Deloitte:
- 67 percent of respondent employees find designated office space for wellness valuable or highly valuable.
- 67 percent of respondent employees find reimbursement for well-being expenses valuable or highly valuable.
- 60 percent of respondent employees want access to mental health counseling.
- 60 percent of respondent employees want access to wellness counseling.
But despite employees stating they view wellness as a valuable component to their employer’s culture, most employer respondents admitted they’re not ready to implement additional wellness benefits. From what I’ve seen in my own experience, and supported by a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, millennials “shop” for jobs that support their personal needs as well as their professional needs.
How to make the change
An increasing amount of evidence shows workplace wellness programs enhance employee performance and reduce costs from employee absences. With this knowledge, an overflowing amount of vendors have sought to supply solutions through corporate platforms, mobile apps, and onsite curriculums focused on keeping employees at their best. Well-being is a central component of strong corporate culture as well as a growing expectation among today’s workforce.
For internal wellness programs to succeed, CIOs need to implement the proper technology to manage and track employee performance. Provide an integrated solution to the company and steer clear of fragmentation, so you can truly reap the value of wellness benefit packages.