We’ve all heard of the Great Depression. For employers, the ongoing Great Resignation often feels like pretty much the same thing. With more folks broadening their horizons and handing in their notice than ever, higher-ups often think to themselves, “What am I doing wrong? How can I keep them happy?”
The key is support—and not of the selective variety. That’s not to say you haven’t made great strides in your efforts to attract, motivate, and retain top talent, of course, but there’s always more that can be done. Creating a compliance-centric culture is one way to improve your retention figures and actively encourage folks to stick around.
But how does one go about doing this? Here are some pointers to hopefully help you ensure your ship sails in the right direction—without running out of steam and beaching itself on the shores of a competitor.
Setting Standards for Everyone
From the top of the ladder down, every rung deserves to be looked after if you hope to maintain a strong connection. The same can be said for your entire workforce. From cleaning staff and administration to the hardliners on the production floor; marketing; accounts; and, yes, executives, everyone has a role to play and must be allowed to do so. Your processes and operational standards should be organized and preventively implemented in a way that enables employees to deliver their best efforts.
That’s not enough, however. You also should ensure these hardworking folks respect each other, are challenged without being shoehorned or overworked, and are held fully accountable for the way they conduct themselves. Otherwise, you risk the creation of a toxic culture rather than a compliant one. When one employee gets a slap on the wrist while another is praised and given kudos for the same thing, then something is very wrong. Correct it, prevent it from happening, and set a standard that is fair and respectful to everyone.
Rules and Boundaries
Speaking of setting standards, there must be an effective and meaningful structure in place at all levels within your business. Establishing rules and processes that encourage positive, supportive behavior without adding to workloads and to-do lists is crucial. Interdepartmental drama is always a risk in a noncompliant culture, so don’t be afraid to set up some boundaries that act more as guardrails to decorum and performance rather than coming down on folks like a ton of bricks.
There shouldn’t be special treatment, but there shouldn’t be any ruling with an iron fist, either; you’re a team, after all, and that means a powerful lot! Keep people in their lane, fueled up in the form of support, training, and collaborative assistance when needed, and help them move along on their deliverables rather than introducing roadblocks. Otherwise, they may be tempted to take the nearest off-ramp and move on to sunnier pastures.
Solicit Feedback–And Respect It!
With the ongoing “work reform” movement and the Great Resignation, it’s clearer than ever that many companies struggle to solicit feedback and demonstrate they truly care. Rather than kicking employees while they’re down and reaching out for help, rightfully obliterating any trust they would have in management, you should be using and valuing all feedback, acting on it, and growing and learning from it rather than pulling over the blinders and directing blame.
It takes an awful lot of bravery, consideration, and passion for the role to tell a higher-up that something is wrong, and there are plenty of ways to solicit feedback. Anonymous surveys are one option, as are one-on-one chats that make it clear the input is highly valued. Interactive group projects are another option, as are retreats, anonymous reporting systems, and other environments that instill a sense of calm and camaraderie. An employee-employer relationship is a two-way street. The real question is: Will you respect this honesty and treat it as an opportunity to do better? Are you willing to provide tangible support and resources that continue to foster an honest and caring relationship? Never forget that any employee-employer relationship is a two-way street, and loyalty is earned.
A Safe and Supportive Space for All
Should employees feel at risk for who they are, employers need to rectify the situation and immediately step up. Supporting mental health and wellness is crucial; slamming your foot down on sexism, racism, workload assignments that create burnout, homophobia, assault, and other toxic behaviors creates a safer space, and you should have concrete processes and fail-safe protocols in place to look after the folks under your wing—again, that reporting system we mentioned earlier is crucial. Your culture should also be able to accommodate for events such as births, weddings, deaths in the family, and otherwise to strike a healthy work/life balance.
Best of luck in setting your team up for success! Here’s to a culture that’s inclusive, considerate, and capable of keeping your top talent in roles they love.
Shannon Walker is the founder and president of WhistleBlower Security Inc. (WBS), launched in 2005. She frequently speaks around the world on whistleblowing, ethics, corporate culture, and diversity. WhistleBlower Security is Women Business Enterprise Canada-certified, making it the only woman-owned and -managed certified ethics reporting business in North America. A former elected city official, Walker has also sat on a number of nonprofit boards and is currently chair of the Ambleside Dundarave Business Improvement Association. She has a BA from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and an MA from Pepperdine University in California.