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Ideas to Improve Workplace Culture & Boost Employee Retention

Winter is in full flow, Christmas is behind us and it’s a new decade! This has all got me thinking… It’s a known fact that the “new year, new me” mantra can be a big catalyst for people changing careers. A recent study by Monster revealed that January is the most popular month for people leaving their jobs in the pursuit of something new – where nine out of 10 of their busiest days for job applications last year were during January. I've summarise my ideas to improve workplace culture and improve employee retention.

Ideas to improve workplace culture.

Here are some more stats which highlight how important it is for you to assess your recruitment and retention drives:

  • 18% of businesses cite January as the most popular month for people to leave – Glassdoor

  • 32% of the UK’s workforce are considering moving on professionally – but most will wait until January to hand in their notice – Crunch Accounting

  • The most noteworthy job application spike lands on January 27, when the number of job applications grew to 75% above the daily average – Monster

It’s key to empathise with your people and understand their reasons for having wandering eyes during this period:

Why is Staff Retention so Poor Around January?

There are several factors that lead to employers and employees being glued to job boards at the start of the year. New Year’s resolutions and career discussions over the holiday period are leading factors of poor staff retention.

“How’s everything at work?” “Did you get that promotion?” “Have you considered looking elsewhere?” These sorts of questions can be a big catalyst for your people assessing their future…

Timing is another key factor. Employees looking to advance their careers and employers looking for the best talent will often hold off until the holiday season is over. This is due to the “Christmas lull”, where there are fewer availabilities and opportunities. Consequently, there is a high volume of job applications in January when this subsides.

Finally, lots of end-of-year bonuses come out in the final days of the year. Most people will avoid risking their bonus by postponing their job searches for another month.

How to Retain Your People & Create a Thriving Culture

January is a time of great opportunity and loss for businesses. In today’s working climate, it’s important to use any advantage you can to get ahead of your competition.

You should take the opportunity to strengthen your recruitment and retention drives and boost your employer brand. By implementing initiatives to leverage your reputation, you will be in a strong position to attract and retain top talent.

To keep your staff and create a greater talent pool to attract new prospects, you should create a working environment that people want to be a part of. By creating a culture of happiness, trust and transparency – you will benefit from an increase in productivity, motivation and performance.

Below are some strategies that will ensure you achieve this:

Empower People to Create Change

If you want to empower your workers to create the change they want to see, then you should demonstrate faith in their abilities and judgment. By giving your people freedom and accountability for their actions you are empowering them to take ownership. This will make everyone feel valued and happy within their roles.

Empowered employees are a huge asset for any business. They are dedicated advocates for your business, who will do whatever it takes to help the company succeed. Their hard work and attitude are infectious – sometimes resulting in a domino effect which permeates throughout your business. They are huge drivers of company values and vision, which helps to create cultural alignment.

Communicate Regularly

The quality and regularity of communication within an organisation can directly influence your workers’ engagement and loyalty to the business. By maintaining open communication, you will bridge gaps, create a unified culture and build a stable team that wants to work within your business.

By gathering instant intelligence via pulse surveys, you can build on successes, remedy concerns and help align everyone with your vision and goals. This will ensure you improve your retention rates.

Provide Opportunities For Growth

It is difficult to improve retention and recruitment drives if your workforce feels like they are stagnating. Career development is a key component of workplace happiness and ultimately retention.

By meeting with your staff regularly and agreeing upon targets, you can build a personal development roadmap together. An effective personal development plan clearly defines the end-goal and what needs to be done to be successful.

Promote Work-Life Balance & Flexibility

In today’s working climate, the line between work and home can be unclear. Many employers expect too much from their people. This can result in them working during all waking hours and constantly checking their personal phones for work emails and updates. It is vital to encourage your staff to find the right balance, so they don’t burn out or have a mental breakdown. Offering flexible working arrangements and annual leave is a great way of helping staff to improve their work-life balance.

Make efforts to speak to your people to learn what you can do to make their working and home lives more enjoyable and distinguishable. This will be repaid with an increase in productivity and an improved culture – thus making you a more attractive employer.

Many studies show that holidays can reduce psychological distress. It is advisable to instruct your people not to access emails whilst away and have a complete break from work. This will help them to recharge and return to work with increased focus and productivity.

Encourage everyone to use all their annual leave. An effective method is to adopt a system whereby any unused days will not be carried over or repaid financially. Essentially a “use it or lose it” system.

Reward Your Top Performers

Pay matters. According to research from Harvard Business Review, “…10% higher base pay is associated with a 1.5-percentage-point increase in the likelihood that workers will stay at their current company the next time they move to a new role.”

It is important to offer appropriate promotions in job title, responsibility and salary to your best workers. Failure to do this may result in them looking for an employer who will offer the rewards they desire. Of course, it is not always an option to offer pay increases and there are many factors to consider. In these situations, it is advisable to communicate this with your people and demonstrate transparency.

Not everyone is motivated solely by monetary gains. By offering your people equity in the business, you’re demonstrating that you value their input and want them to reap what they sow.

By allowing your top-performers to become shareholders, you will ensure that they become more invested in the business. Often this will create a new breed of worker, who will willingly go the extra mile and become a loyal ambassador for the business.

Focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

If you want your best performers to stay with your company, then you must ensure they align with your core values. These values should include a dedication to financial success and also to creating positive change outside of the workplace.

Today’s workers want to feel proud of their organisation. They want assurances that they’re working for a company that cares about more than just profits.

CSR initiatives help businesses attract and retain the next generation of workers. This is evidenced by a recent study by The Conversation: “More than 90% of business students in a study on corporate social responsibility said they would be willing to sacrifice some percentage of their future salary to work for a responsible employer.” Here at the Happiness Index, we’re proud to have partnered with Hope for Children. Together we’re helping children to have happy and healthy childhoods around the globe!

Businesses can improve employee retention and employer branding by implementing systems and processes that will make employees want to stay. This will result in a great culture where people want to contribute and succeed. This will ensure you hold on to your best people and recruit the best candidates during this tricky period!

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Pat Phelan

"Pat loves nature, is drawn to Snickers bars and has a penchant for 90s nostalgia."


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