One aspect of my job I particularly love is how much I get to interact with our customers. Obviously we talk about their marketing, but the conversations roam in many directions, which for me is part of the charm of working for Red Barn Consulting.
Our clients range from more corporate institutions like banks, insurance companies, and healthcare facilities, but also entrepreneurs and small businesses.
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What strikes me is that no matter the business, and whether it’s based in Connecticut, the other side of the country, the need to “get it right” when it comes to workplace culture is crucial to retaining key employees, the ones you really can’t afford to lose.
As a whole, the job market is really tight. Employers are struggling to fill positions and hang on to good employees. Salary, benefits, and growth opportunity are obviously a huge part of the draw, but “culture,” often intangible, plays just as key a role.
When it comes to that je n’ais se quoi of workplace culture, what are your potential employees looking for?
A seat at the table — Even junior level staffers want to know their contributions are valued. This doesn’t mean the CEO has to carefully consider every idea the greenest guy in the building has, but it does mean providing opportunities for employees at all levels to have their voices heard. Millennials especially do not want to just show up, keep their noses down, and go home. Being able to contribute is a strong motivator for quality employees.
A good mission — Whether your organization sells widgets or helps the homeless, it should have a strong mission that serves as a rallying point for your troops. More than just words, the mission needs to be reflected in your company’s ethos. Feeling good about what the company does and how it does it means quality employees will give 110%, with pleasure.
A comfortable environment — Starched shirts and rigorous enforcement of policy “just because” it is the policy are out. Good employees are looking for a workplace that feels positive and comfortable. When you’re spending 8+ hours a day there, it just makes sense!
A flex policy — Good employees are happy to give it their all, and not just 9 to 5. They are willing and eager to stay late when needed, to handle something off hours, to contribute when helpful to projects far outside their functional area. At the same time, good organizations provide flexibility in return. Need to leave early to catch a daughter’s softball game? Need to work remotely while the plumber fixes a leak? No problem.
A team worth supporting — “I want my employees to work collaboratively, to help each other.” The good news is, your employees want this as well! The key though, is building a team worthy of helping. It’s vital to pay attention to culture and overall “fit” when hiring. One bad apple can indeed spoil the whole bunch. You are building an army of sorts, and you need every member to feel invested in the success of everyone else.
What are some important elements in your workplace culture? I’d love to continue the dialogue.