The days of retaining employees with pay increases and a 4 pm Friday finish are over. Culture Amp conducted a survey that shows a fifth of UK workers have a high risk of leaving their jobs in 2024. Research also shows that many HR professionals consider employee retention the biggest priority.
A large scale of dissatisfaction can be seen in trends such as loud and quiet quitting. Organisations must reevaluate how they conduct business if they want to keep their people, and exploring culture is the first step towards achieving this.
Studies show that culture greatly impacts employee retention. Nearly a third of UK workers quit jobs for this reason. High turnover and low productivity are obvious signs of a poor culture, but what about the hidden ones? Are you missing key signs your organisation needs to actively and constructively change its culture?
CEO Thom Dennis has thirty years' experience helping businesses sustainably transform cultures. He holds an MSc in Change Agent Skills and Strategies and is a Certified Facilitator and NLP Master Practitioner. His expertise has been used by leading companies such as Citigroup, RBS, Conoco Phillips, Altana Pharma, BP, and Transocean. At Serenity in Leadership, his team specialises in helping businesses create cultures that foster collaboration, creativity, and innovation.
These are the top hidden signs your culture needs change.
You don't know your workplace values and purpose by heart
Many leaders invest heavily in creating a new identity. They go off to workshops, meet with identity consultants and return to work bursting with ideas and energy. A meeting is held to inform employees of the company's new values and purpose. Only staff don’t see any of these values being lived — they don't identify with them and this leads to resistance which in turn leads to a cynicism and negativity.
Values are not something you need to read in a glossy brochure or poster. If you don't know your company's values, or if you ask your team and they are unable to identify them, it's a sign that your values are not being lived.
Solution: Arrange a meeting with C-suite leaders to identify a set of values. In the process, gather information from staff about their beliefs and what feels meaningful to them in the context of vision and purpose. When your values align, spend six months living them without fanfare. Adopt and be congruent with these values instead, so when they are announced, people are more likely to engage with them because they make sense.
You rarely hear about problems
We would all love to believe our organisations are immune to bullying, harassment and discrimination. But research shows that millions of people feel unsafe at work. This is also the cause of high turnover.
If staff rarely speak to HR or management about issues happening at work, it is likely they do not feel psychologically safe enough to come forward. Safety can improve efficiency, satisfaction and inclusion, as well as help leaders understand what is really affecting culture.
Solution: Show vulnerability; admit mistakes and take responsibility. The more you are open and honest, the more people will trust that they can do the same. Keep asking for feedback and listen without distraction or defensiveness. People will only feel safe to speak up if they feel they are being listened to authentically and if action is taken in response.
There is a lack of flexibility
In the old days, leaders didn't have to prioritise employees. Work was based on a simple contract of pay in return for presence and work. Organisations told you your hours and pay, and you accepted or went somewhere else. But much more is expected of today’s employers — although many have yet to wake up to this.
There is a need for a better work-life balance, as well as opportunities to contribute and feel like part of something bigger. Employers who ignore this demand risk losing top talent.
Studies show that businesses have a competitive advantage in getting the best talent when they offer flexibility. A lack thereof suggests leaders do not trust their staff enough to work independently from home or are not considerate of their needs. Failing to put people first indicates a negative culture.
Solution: Flexible working may look different for various roles, so speak with employees individually and ask for their suggestions. If you focus on creating a psychologically safe culture characterised by trust, openness and authenticity, you will manage hybrid workers more easily. It's crucial for trust between managers and staff to prevent micro-management.
You have a poor workplace fridge culture
The fridge acts as a microcosm of an organisation's culture. You can learn a lot about a culture from it: Do people leave passive aggressive notes, ignore milk spills, or take food from each other?
In a healthy culture where people respect one another, the fridge should be treated with the same respect. Rather than leaving notes, people communicate openly if they notice someone using their items. Instead of a dirty, messy fridge with expired food, people take care to clean up after themselves.
Solution: CEO Thom Dennis discusses fridge politics in detail on the Work Force podcast with Dr Grace Lordan of the LSE.
Steps to change workplace culture:
Many people misunderstand culture. Some leaders think their companies do not have a culture (they always do), and that a single solution can fix it.
While spotting these hidden signs and finding solutions makes a difference, creating sustainable results requires an external facilitator. An outside and unbiased perspective is key to uncovering the root issue of a problem and providing effective solutions. We collaborate with a team of leading facilitators including CEO Thom's extensive experience coaching and facilitating prominent business leader teams.
We offer a range of customised solutions using cutting-edge technology. To find out more, fill in the form below or book an appointment in Thom's Calender.