As the generation of Baby-boomers born post-WWII continue to retire, it’s time to get ready for the diverse generation of highly educated, tech-savvy Millennials born between 1982 and 1993. As someone born at the cusp of this generation, I can attest to embracing a work-style that has become a hallmark of this group, leaning towards creative collaboration, open communication, and digital connectedness. What’s more, Millennials will soon be the largest generation in the global workforce, accounting for a staggering 75% in a decade. These future business leaders are seeking employment with opportunities to grow, contribute, and lead, making the corporate culture of an organization more important than ever before.
Recently, Deloitte released the 2015 Global Human Capital Trends Report, illustrating the importance of creating a terrific work environment to attract and retain highly skilled people and produce top-notch results for your company. Industry leaders and H.R. professionals globally are hearing “employee engagement” and “company culture” as the new buzzwords. With an impending retention crisis facing organizations, it is clear why culture matters: great people want to work at great places, and there is a direct link to profitability.
Not surprisingly, many of the hugely profitable companies on the Fortune “500,” including names like Google, Disney, Apple and Southwest Airlines, are also named on the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work for” list. Clearly there’s a positive relationship between happy, engaged employees and happy, loyal customers.
According to a recent Gallup poll, a mere 13% of employees globally are highly engaged in their work. Perhaps even more startling is that more than 50% of the workforce would not recommend their employer to their peers. The price of an ineffective or even toxic corporate culture is disconnected and disgruntled employees. The end results: decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and costly turnover if your employees are frequently walking out the door for greener pastures and better perks.
But what does culture really mean in a workplace?
Culture is the attitudes, behaviour, values and recognition system of an organization. In short, culture is about the entire employee experience.From the parking lot to the coffee machine, to the way meetings are run and tasks delegated, great culture begins with strong leadership, transparent communication, respect, and accountability.
Consistently ranked as one of the best places to work, the immensely successful American supermarket chain Wegmans’ intense focus on company culture could be the reason. Their mantra certainly rings true: “When you take care of your employees they take care of your customers.” These passionate, enthusiastic employees become valuable brand ambassadors, essentially “cheerleaders” for your company who are willing to stay late or go the extra mile to get the job done. By contrast, however, actively disengaged employees can sabotage a workplace, ruin an organization’s reputation, and ultimately destroy a business.
With the demographic shift in the job market, workplaces will need to innovate to better suit the next generation of workers and business leaders. This doesn’t have to come in the form ping-pong tables and beanbag chairs in the boardroom; it comes about by consciously treating employees like people, not cogs in a machine. Businesses embarking on a culture shift will realize a significant return on their investment in employee engagement and overall profitability.