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In the Age of Great Resignation, executives are in a near-constant battle to attract and retain talent. The importance of the corporate culture is paramount here. In fact, studies have shown that a toxic business environment has more than 10 times more impact than compensation when it comes to an employee leaving a job.
Forward-thinking companies need to refocus on building and sustaining an exciting, rewarding company culture that employees feel empowered to contribute to, strengthen and support for the long term – especially during times of challenge or change. That’s the definition of “regenerative” – renewing, repairing and continually coming back stronger.
But to achieve this, you must maintain a people-centered mindset and nurture your employees to be your main advocates for each other and the company. Here are four basic principles for building a regenerative work culture.
Related: Your employees want a goal — not ping pong tables. Here’s how to thrive through the great resignation.
Align your employees with the company values
Successful organizations nurture employees around core values, refer to them in times of uncertainty, and model them for customers, consumers, and the greater good. Establish your values early and explicitly so employees can understand them, act upon them, and recognize them in others.
A consistent and shared appreciation of company values empowers your employees to engage with the organization on a deeper level, fostering a professional and personal investment that promotes greater ownership, agency, and motivation for business goals.
One way to align your team with the company values is to recognize and improve on them at every opportunity. It is important to recognize both employees who represent the values of the company and create incentives for those who enforce them. Another way is to ensure that your company policies both reflect and reinforce your beliefs, giving back to employees and showing your sincerity.
At NINE dot ARTS, we regularly host art-focused social activities to underline our “authentic” and “creative” values, and provide ongoing DEIB training and professional development opportunities so that employees can embrace our “ethical” and “educational” values.
When your company’s core principles help ground your team in the face of obstacles, guide shared decision-making, and drive collective action, you’ll experience the kind of continued growth and affirmation needed for a regenerative culture.
Related: 5 lessons for budding entrepreneurs I wish I knew
Focus on human connection
Value alignment is critical for organizations as it also helps foster bonding among employees. So it’s essential to create opportunities for your staff to recognize, celebrate and support each other around core beliefs and business goals. And given that about 50% of leaders ask employees to return to an office environment, such connections may be easier than you think.
In fact, despite the rise of office perks like ping pong tables or fancy coffee drinks, new research from Enboarder found that 60% of respondents find the most valuable element of office work is the opportunity for spontaneous interactions with colleagues. Other top activities where employees drew the strongest feelings of connection were team meetings, one-on-one, and sharing skills with colleagues.
Such findings mean good news for employers, because these activities are nothing new. No special events or unique connection building programs are required. Instead, encouraging staff to collaborate in person through simple meetings, coffee dates, and even casual interactions can be key to strengthening overall connections.
And when the bond is strong, so is found research, productivity, employee satisfaction and retention – all of which contribute to a regenerative culture.
Related: Here’s the secret to improving employee engagement that every company can afford
Promote employment agency
As an entrepreneur and business leader, I truly believe that diverse, hard-working individuals united around shared values can deliver new innovations and outstanding results.
This starts in the recruitment process. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my career is hiring for your shortcomings. After all, even the best leaders have blind spots. Bringing together fresh perspectives, diverse life experiences and a range of expertise can make your organization stronger as a whole, help avoid silo thinking, foster resourcefulness and hold everyone accountable. And when diverse specialists share common values and feel connected to each other and your mission, the potential is endless.
Plus, knowing you have dedicated, specialized team members that balance each other out helps you delegate with confidence, giving employees the freedom of choice they (and you) need to improve your organization.
For example, our employees create topical task forces around our core principles, making recommendations to leadership on policy changes in these areas – from sustainability measures to artist advocacy efforts. Meanwhile, with the support of leadership, employees are encouraged to initiate operational innovations, creating efficiencies and improvements that drive our business success.
Such a staffing agency is critical to seeing the kind of ongoing problem solving and improvements needed for a regenerative work culture.
Related: Investing in your employees is the smartest business decision you can make
Finally, don’t forget to promote your employees’ aspirations – both personal and professional. Oftentimes, employees looking to improve a particular skill, passion, or area of expertise will contribute their new strengths to your organization in a meaningful way.
Start incorporating education into your staff training. For example, at NINE dot ARTS, all new team members attend three Courageous Allyship training courses and we have a company-wide session for all employees every year. This workshop gives our team a shared understanding and language around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging – a core component of our ethos in every department.
In addition, provide continuing education grants to fund workshops, lectures, conferences, or other educational endeavors. And let your employees present their lessons from such opportunities to the company as a whole. Promoting the continuous advancement of your workforce inspires each individual to a growth mindset for themselves and the organization.
Related: Is Your Employee Engagement Program Ready for Snuff?
Go beyond material benefits
In today’s hiring and retention landscape, we cannot underestimate the impact of workplace culture. Gone are the days when a mini fridge, coffee maker, branded items or gym membership could attract talent to your organization. Instead, leaders should focus on the fundamental aspects of culture, such as alignment of values and human connection. Once these are solidified, empower employees to feel ownership, choice, and a sense of purpose around their work — and provide educational opportunities to further that purpose. This one are the building blocks of a regenerative culture – a culture that adapts, is resilient and always improves on what has been done before.