Culture isn’t imposed. It’s nurtured.

Posted by Anna Fleetwood on Apr 4, 2019 11:03:00 AM
Anna Fleetwood
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I’ve been reflecting recently on what makes an employee stay with a company and the contribution a stable workforce makes to an organisation’s success.

A week ago, I spent an interesting day on site with JCB talking to a variety of people. When speaking to production employees it was clear many of them had worked there for a really long time. What interested me was one of the key reasons for their high staff retention.

We undertake focus groups with a variety of organisations when creating their employer brands. Frequently one of the key reasons people stay in the job they are in is the team they work with. That is true for JCB too. A secondary reason often given is ‘we’re like a family’. But what fascinated me at JCB was they loved it being a family company, not just ‘like a family’. For them it wasn’t the usual advantages of a family owned company, like being known by name by senior managers, profit share etc. (let’s face it most are not the size of a global giant like JCB). What the JCB people really like isn’t just working for a family owned and run company, but specifically the Bamford family.

It was clear, that to them, their job security is directly linked to that surname. There’s no guarantee that the next generation of a family will have the same behaviours and values as the one before. But at JCB, employees presume that as long as a Bamford is at the helm, things will continue in a familiar way. That is employee engagement that money can’t buy – except possibly by Deed Poll!

Retaining the very best of your employee base is no mean feat and whilst job security can, like at JCB, form part of it, it’s not everything to everyone. So what’s the key way to make an employee loyal and to help you attract the very best? I would argue it’s creating an inclusive and genuine workplace culture. One where people’s opinions don’t just count, they form the very foundation of their employer’s communications and ways of working.  

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So how do you do that? As a business leader you need to understand what makes your people tick, as individuals not just as a collective. For some it may be money or promotion opportunities, others being themselves at work or a good work life balance. And it isn’t a case of finding this out once and considering the job done. People change and their life priorities change. Before I had a baby, I worked all hours, travelling constantly. If you’d asked me a couple of years ago what mattered to me, work life balance was pretty low down the list. But now I am juggling a senior role and a 15 month old it is very high up my list of ‘needs’.

Many organisations focus what they perceive to be their culture around the environment – there’s a pool table, an Xbox, a gym. Whilst those things contribute to the working environment and help set the cultural tone, they don’t set the culture itself. You can be working in a small office, with limited equipment and still have a team who all pull in the same direction, bending over backwards for their clients and one another – trust me I’ve been there. And why did the team work so cohesively? Because everyone’s contribution and voice counted, regardless of job title, in turn creating a unique ‘one-team’ culture.


Your culture is your brand

A good company culture is reached through emotional intelligence – talking and more importantly listening to your people. Senior managers may think they can dictate what a culture is, but the reality is that there will be a sub-culture underneath that if the workforce is not an engaged one. A culture of ‘us and them’ does not breed a good or industrious atmosphere and employees will waste more time moaning, in turn decreasing their productivity and directly impacting the organisation’s bottom line.

So make sure your people are listened to and that their input can make a difference to how the company is managed, In turn influencing how people behave and empowering your workforce. This is what we help companies achieve through our bottom up Culture Mirroring techniques.

On average, people spend 13 years and two months of their lives at work. Add in overtime and it’s an average of 14 years and 4 months. Eek. So, it’s really important that people find a job they love, or at the very minimum like and that employers help create welcoming workplaces to attract and retain good people, whatever their background.

We can help you get the most out of your employees and for them to get the most out of being at work. So, if you’re looking to get an external and clearer perspective on what is and isn’t working in your organisation, please get in touch.


Topics: Workplace Culture Management