Winning the war on talent – through organisational culture

27 April 2023

When times are tough, people tend to re-evaluate what is important to them and identify what changes could be made to improve their situation. This is relevant to the current cost-of-living crisis, when moving to a different employer for more money may become a more attractive option than it might have been previously.

With that in mind, employers need to consider factors other than pay that will improve the overall work experience and help in retaining their valuable people assets.

It is important to start by looking at the big picture, especially the culture of the workplace. Do you offer a great place to work, or is there room for some improvement?

What is workplace culture?

Culture is made up of organisational values and behaviours, all of which invoke a collection of feelings and emotions which impact the working environment. Put simply, organisational culture is often described as ‘how we do things around here'.

Employees and former employees alike are becoming increasingly vocal when workplace cultures become ‘toxic’ in nature, demonstrated by a number of high-profile organisations being publicly criticised for negative behaviours such as hostility, bullying and a perceived significant lack of employee care.

Why does culture matter?

Aside from the desire to be a ‘good employer’, culture is a key part of business and human resource (HR) strategy and has a direct impact on the wellbeing of an organisation. Peter Drucker, the influential management academic, takes that view a step further, suggesting that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. In other words, without an effective and healthy culture, organisations will be unable to deliver against their business strategy and meet their business objectives.

Workplace culture has a far-reaching impact including:

  • attracting talent – potential candidates are increasingly using media to research organisations and whether they are a good place to work;
  • talent retention – employees will vote with their feet if a workplace has a negative culture, requiring significant financial and time investment; and
  • wellbeing – feeling well treated and valued at work is important for overall wellbeing, resulting in reduced absence costs, higher engagement and better focus and productivity.

Policy, behaviour, and culture

Values and behaviours are often written within employment documentation such as mission statements and HR policies. These documents set out behaviours and ways of working and are the foundations on which to build a positive culture. They provide managers and employees with clear boundaries and expectations regarding their behaviours and help to clearly communicate the consequences of behaviours which are unacceptable.

If your policies haven’t been reviewed for some time, we would recommend a review by HR to check if they are still relevant and positively represent the organisation. For example, are they inclusive enough and is the terminology up to date? We have seen examples of older style policies that are outdated and which do not reflect current best practice. Perhaps it’s time for a spring clean of your HR policies to ensure they reflect how you wish your organisation to be perceived today?

When we consider the amount of time spent at work, it makes sense that work should be a force for good; good for the individual, the company, and the wider community in which it operates. If you would like to hear about how our experienced teams can help with shaping culture for the future and update your HR policies to reflect your current strategy and culture, please contact Kerri Constable or Steve Sweetlove.