I have spoken regularly about the importance of a company’s corporate culture and a recent article from the Anchorage Daily News about what’s driving the great resignation really strikes home.
The article notes the “great resignation” where employees quit their jobs showed 4.3 million quit in January and another 4.4 million quit in February. The article quotes a comprehensive MIT Sloan Management study that showed that a toxic corporate culture is 10 times more likely to predict employee turnover than pay. Ten times more likely.
If people were 10 times more likely to steal from a company on a certain shift, that company would look into what’s happening on that shift. Yet, we see companies say they can’t attract qualified applicants even when they increase pay. Maybe it’s not just the applicants.
In a time when jobs have merged to contain multiple roles that aren’t always an intuitive fit or just have more to do in a day because people in those positions must do the amount of work it used to take three people to do, and managers still expect employees to show up and do what they’re told without question, could the culture play a role?
The article notes that poor managerial treatment of and disrespect toward employees are fundamental causes of a toxic culture. That’s not surprising. Most people wouldn’t accept poor treatment at a gym, and would likely change grocery stores if the regular place exhibited blatant disrespect toward customers. Why, then, are employers surprised when people won’t stay in a toxic job? People prefer to exist where they feel appreciated, especially in their jobs.
As I recently told the students at Brigham Young University, an “ethical corporate culture” values and respects employees and actively seeks feedback from them. In my area, this discussion comes up around the ethics of speaking out when someone in the company, maybe even in a supervisory position, does something against the company’s code of ethics. But speaking up when anyone does something against the company’s values is important. When people turn a blind eye to any negative action, it grows into common practice and eventual apathy, which can sour employees and potential applicants on an entire company. When employee respect is missing, the corporate culture turns toxic and employees do not wish to stay.
From the CEO to the applicant, every person in and around a company witnesses that company’s culture. What they see is up to the people involved. It’s more obvious now than ever before that leadership needs to lead by example, and that managers must create an environment of trust and respect so employees feel not only safe, but also comfortable bringing things up as they arise. People join people, as they say. When potential hires apply for a job, they are applying to become part of a group. What they see from that group determines if they accept, or stay in, a position.