One of the biggest workplace challenges facing businesses today is employee retention. One third of millennials are thinking about finding new jobs once the pandemic is fully behind us, as are 26% of all workers across age groups. Of those workers thinking about making a change, 80% say it’s because they’re concerned about their career growth.
Is it just the pandemic creating ripples of change in the workforce? Or is it that new generations of workers have different career expectations than those who have been in the workforce longer, and the pandemic has simply made this exceptionally clear?
It may be too soon to know yet. But while some workers may have fast-tracked their decision to leave a job or change their career as a result of the pandemic, in reality many of those decisions come down to perceived deficiencies in company culture.
Over and over again, workers express that they’re not just looking for better compensation. They also want work-from-home options, flexible work schedules, and career advancement opportunities. In fact, when millennials progress within a company, especially to management level, employee turnover is about two-thirds less for them than for non-millennials.
An important way to improve employee satisfaction and retention is to create a people-first culture — one that listens to and values the needs of employees and understands the deeper shifts happening in the workplace. Here’s a closer look at what a people-first culture is and the impact it can have on employee retention and your overall business.
The meaning of a people-first culture
A people-first culture stems from the idea that the workplace is always evolving. Workers think about work differently today than even a few years ago, and the modern workplace needs to reflect this. Taking a people-first approach means actively creating a desirable work environment that considers and fulfills the needs of one of your most important assets: your employees, or your “people.”
So, what are employees really looking for these days? While a big salary may have attracted talent in the past, now it’s more about the job itself and being part of a bigger mission, as well as the ability to balance work with life.
One criterion for employees is meaningful work — performing a job in which they feel effective and can make a difference in the organization. Another is a path to progression — being able to develop, grow, and advance their career within the company. And a third one is flexibility. Employees have increasingly busy, multi-faceted lives, and the demands made on them can’t always be handled outside the regular 9-5 workday. The pandemic showed that remote, flexible work could be done — in fact, had to be done in many instances — and that going back to rigid schedules and office cubicles is less desirable, and maybe even less productive, for many people.
A people-first culture also begins at the top. When your organization’s leadership recognizes what today’s workers want and need and has the courage to implement real change, they’re able to create the kind of company culture that’s now in demand everywhere. They can meet the expectations of the moment and align with the modern world of work.
The business impact of putting people first
One of the benefits of taking care of your people is that when employees are happy, they’re more likely to be helpful and responsive to customers. When employees aren’t struggling on the job and feel like their basic needs are being met, they can focus on providing the highest levels of customer service that are required in today’s hyper-competitive market.
Recruiting and hiring practices benefit as well. By showing job candidates that you’re serious about putting your people first, you can find and draw from a more diverse pool of potential employees who bring with them a range of skills, perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. Improving diversity enhances your entire organization by fostering greater innovation, adaptability, and even business performance.
Finally, having a people-first mindset positively impacts employee retention, since happy employees are less likely to leave the company in search of a better opportunity. Experts say that the companies with the highest retention rates offer more to their employees than just a good salary and benefits. They also offer perks like personalized development plans, continuing education and skills training, and mentorship programs, all which show employees that they’re respected and appreciated. In fact, companies with a strong learning culture have employee retention rates that are 30-50% higher than those that don’t.
Creating a people-first culture shows you believe in your employees and want them to succeed. It also makes your organization much more attractive to others who find the work you’re doing compelling and the culture both exciting and supportive.
Learn more about ways SyncHR's product can help you maintain a positive culture.