To Attract, Engage, and Retain Talent, Look Beyond Company Culture and Build Community

To Attract, Engage, and Retain Talent, Look Beyond Company Culture and Build Community

By | March 2, 2022

Organizations have long focused on leveraging corporate culture to instill in their employees a sense of loyalty and unity. But, lately, it isn’t enough.

“After two years of remote work, employees’ sense of belonging is waning. Even as we video conference into our colleagues’ homes, our interactions have become more formal. Meetings are scheduled to handle specific tasks. Informal connections aren’t being made, and casual collisions don’t exist. This limits innovation, but it also leaves employees feeling disconnected. They are less loyal, and more easily distracted by a hot labor market. Leaders need to focus on engaging a disengaged and disconnected workforce.”

Cynthia Wolpert | AIIR Boston

To attract, engage, and retain the talent they will need to succeed in 2022 and beyond, leaders and organizations must go beyond culture to build what the isolation of the pandemic took away from us: community.

Community and The Great Resignation

Toward the end of 2021, the business world was abuzz about the “Great Resignation,” a massive wave of workers leaving their jobs, sometimes in spectacular fashion. What followed has been, for employers, one of the most challenging talent markets in history.

Many employers have responded by showering employees with perks and higher pay. But, as a recent report from McKinsey points out, employees “want pay, benefits, and perks, but more than that they want to feel valued.”

The article continues, “They want social and interpersonal connections with their colleagues and managers. They want to feel a sense of shared identity. They want meaningful interactions, not just transactions. By not understanding what their employees are running from, and what they might gravitate to, company leaders are putting their very businesses at risk.”

The Cost of Neglecting Community

A Gallup poll conducted the year before the pandemic found that voluntary turnover costs U.S. businesses a staggering $1 trillion. The average cost of turnover can be as much as twice an employee’s salary. That means that, for a company of 100 employees with an average salary of $60,000, turnover costs can rise as high as $3 million. Add in sustained record-breaking turnover in the past two years and the costs multiply exponentially.

Go Beyond Culture

The problem isn’t that companies have neglected culture. It’s that, when they think about culture, most companies focus on the behavioral norms that govern how employees should work individually and as a team. While that is tremendously important, what workers crave right now is community. Think of community as a more inclusive form of culture — rather than being built around a set of norms and behaviors, community is built on the connections between employees and the connection employees feel to the organization.

Build Community and They Will Come

“Human beings are fundamentally social – more than any other animal species on the planet, our own destinies are linked to each other,” said Michael Platt, Ph.D., a renowned neuroscientist and co-founder of the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative, one of AIIR’s strategic partners.

In the times of “The Sustained Resignation” or “The Great Renegotiation”, it’s critical for employers to invest in and focus on their most valuable asset — their people.

Building connection will be a key competency for leaders in 2022 and beyond. Organizations need to lean into what Josh Bersin calls the big reset toward human-centered leadership, and provide leaders the support they will need to build connection and community within their teams and organizations.

Organizations that do will find it easier to attract, engage, and retain the talent they will need to succeed in this challenging moment. Organizations that fail to do so will continue to struggle with attrition and turnover, and will find themselves increasingly falling behind in the market.

The pandemic and resulting move to remote work left most of us craving community. Learn the skills leaders will need to foster community and succeed in the year ahead. Watch our free on-demand webinar, Leadership 2022: Shaping a Better Future!

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