In 2023, creating a thriving company culture is more challenging than ever. In many industries, it’s become exceedingly difficult to attract and retain talent in order to create the sustainable cultures our businesses require to be successful. The effects of the pandemic are still lingering, and many businesses continue to operate in survival mode. We’re still trying to make adjustments and figure things out.
The word for 2020 quickly became “uncertainty” (well, that, and “unprecedented,” which got old fast). In my opinion, uncertainty has continued as a primary theme. A 2020 McKinsey survey found 80% of executives were considering or already implementing changes in meeting structure and cadence in response to the evolution in how people work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re still in the thick of it, and I’m not sure we’ve learned our lesson(s) yet. Many of us are still running a little scared and holding on dearly to some old ways.
Maybe it’s time we leave some old practices behind in exchange for newer and better ways of doing things. As leaders, we must embrace Steve Job’s famous campaign headline from 1997 and challenge ourselves to “think different.”
Changing the way we think requires action.
The majority of the U.S. workforce (65%) is not engaged, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report. These disengaged employees are indifferent and neither like nor dislike their job, while the behaviors of highly engaged employees result in a 23% positive difference in profitability.
I see a lot of business owners experience concern that their teams just aren’t engaged and ultimately aren’t delivering – regardless of remote, hybrid or in-person working environments. It’s not our employees’ fault that they aren’t engaged, it’s ours. In one study, 33% of professionals cited boredom and needing new challenges as a primary motivating factor for seeking a new job. It’s up to us to create a successful atmosphere that drives both purpose and impact.
I’ve got a pretty simple theory when it comes to your people: Whoever has the best team will produce the best work. Clients and customers will always be important, they are the lifeblood to our companies and who we exist to serve. But if we’re being honest, in most cases, they will come and go. If your culture is right, your team will stay longer than your average client will. Here are some ways I believe you can best invest in how your organization serves its employees.
It’s time to start focusing on outcomes or other metrics that aren’t strictly time bound. You can tell talented people what to do, but at some point, you have to leave the appropriate amount of room for them to show you how it should be done. Micromanaging is a huge motivation killer. It’s difficult, but if you get the atmosphere right and have the right people in place, you can take a step back and watch some magic happen.
Instill a greater sense of purpose with your team. If you’re in aviation or aerospace, what’s more inspiring than soaring above the clouds or exploring space? If you’re in energy, what’s more important than keeping society up and running? As my dad says, “Nothing moves without energy.” Regardless of what you provide, identify your higher calling and remind your team of the bigger vision you’re calling them into.
Live your values.
These are more than just words — or at least they should be. Values should find a way to actively show up regularly in your organization. You and your team should know them so they can live them. It’s sad to point out, but one of Enron’s values was “integrity.” That’s what happens when values are just words on your office walls. It’s up to us as business leaders to make them matter in our organizations.
Create an employer brand.
This one is uber specific. Take time to get your employer brand right and cultivate how it speaks to future talent. Many organizations don’t even know why working for them is better or different from working with a competitor. Understand why someone would want to come to work with you (notice I didn’t say “for you.” Words matter and business is a team sport). Make sure this is branded in a way that resonates with both current and future talent. Truly understanding what it’s like to be part of your team can be a game changer in your recruitment efforts.
Your employees should be your primary stakeholder. Nothing gets done without them. Clients aren’t served, money isn’t made and dreams and goals simply aren’t met without your employees. We’re living in a new era. This new era is giving more “power to the people,” and I’m here for it.