10 workplace culture secrets revealed

employee retention tips
Creating a great workplace culture starts with recruitment (Source: Bigstock)

What is the secret to great workplace culture and engagement? The founder of Amplify HR, Karen Kirton, believes it’s all about finding, recruiting and retaining great employees.

Kirton reveals her top tips in a new book Great People Great Business. “Research consistently shows that if you develop a workplace culture that engages your teams, you will enjoy higher customer satisfaction, loyalty, productivity and profitability, and lower employee turnover. People are the competitive difference,” she writes.

The methodology has helped Australian service-based industries lower employee turnover and enable higher productivity.

Kirton, who has more than 20 years experience, takes a three-pronged approach: finding, growing and keeping great people.

Employee retention tips: 10 brilliant HR secrets revealed

1. Understand what impacts your business and plan tactics

This can be external factors such as technology or employee expectations, as well as internal influencers. For instance, being stuck in daily operations, or high employee turnover.

2. Decide what kind of culture you want

Does your business fit a purpose, performance, innovation or customer culture model?

3. Talent matrix your team

Use a talent matrix to categorise employees’ performance and potential. In strategic planning, create an action plan based on your triggers for recruitment. Will you hire when you reach a certain percentage of revenue, number of clients, level of profit, or number of products sold? Avoid overstretching your team.

4. Recruiting is marketing

Recruitment is the fastest and most impactful way to change culture. Help shape recruitment with a marketing approach:

  • Create an offer that describes the job plus business culture; 
  • If your business already has a ‘great culture’ how do you prove this? Research this with current employees and include feedback in your ad; 
  • Advertise to your target market
  • Sell your organisation as a great place to work.
5. Onboarding starts with the job offer

When you find great people, make sure both their head and heart are engaged. Benefits of struc­tured onboarding include: 70 per cent improvement in productivity and 54 per cent higher employee engagement, says Kirton.

6. Refine your leadership mission

Bring your leadership team together to determine qualities and behaviours leaders in your organisation should have. Kirton suggests refining this, as a group, to five to eight definitions of ‘what leadership looks like at our organisation’. Leaders then create action plans to bring this to life.

7. Empower employees to set their own SMART goals

There are five key principles to consider when goal setting: commitment, clarity, challenge, complexity, and feedback.  Combining these with the SMART approach (Specific, Measured by, Attainable, Realistic, Timeframe) is the recipe to empower employees to set their own goals.

8. Employee retention: growth and development, rewards and recognition

Growth and development are top priorities when it comes to keeping great people: 94 per cent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in career development.

And 80 per cent of employ­ees who quit their jobs say lack of appreciation was a key reason for leaving, adds Kirton.

Work out how each employee prefers to be appreciated, and a system offering different levels of recognition: shout outs, small gifts, larger gifts, team celebrations, formal rewards and benefits.

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication is usually one of the lowest scoring areas when conducting engage­ment surveys. Lack of clear communication is also one of the most common complaints by employees.

An internal communications plan fosters open communication, cross collaboration and prevents silos. Start with communication milestones – manager one-to-ones; monthly team meetings; lunch and learn workshops; quarterly all-staff meetings; half-yearly team planning sessions; end of year celebration – and develop your strategy around these.

10. Listen, measure, build momentum and look ahead

Establish regular surveys and processes to obtain feedback. Make surveys mostly multiple choice and ask for honest responses. Listen, consider, and create feedback loops communicat­ing back what you are hearing and doing.

Measure results and continually review your programs and strategies with a future focus.

These HR strategies work whatever your business size

Kirton points out “The great part about putting in HR frameworks for your workplace culture is that they are scalable with your business. What works for a 15-employee business will work for 100 or 200 employees. You may have more resources available as you get larger, but the HR structure will grow with you.”