Competition for high-caliber talent is fierce, and retention — not to mention the challenge of developing an engaged, diverse, and healthy company culture — is difficult and costly. It’s been said that we are in the midst of “The Great Resignation,” with millions leaving the workforce or changing their jobs, and the problem is especially acute in the life sciences, where talent scarcity and retention are particular pain points.
Research laboratories are now often finding themselves in competition with the tech sector for engineers, analysts, and leadership. Where yesterday’s offers came down to greater benefits packages and job titles, the workforce today demands a more focused, intentional, and strategic communication of culture and values.
There has been an increasing prioritization of culture above salary, with a recent report finding 74% of American workers are likely to leave a job if the company culture has declined. Conversely, 65% of employees cited culture as one of the top reasons they stayed with an organization.
The core questions every company faces are: What brings in talent? How do you retain that talent? And now, how do you make that talent believe in you? Your culture, your company’s values, and your valuing of your talented staff, need to be addressed, expressed, and most importantly embodied in your brand identity and relationships, and in nearly every point of engagement. So where do you start?
This is where Owl’s Head’s specialization in strategic messaging is particularly necessary: We are uniquely experienced in analyzing virtues and opportunities, and developing actionable, effective campaigns to draw out their deeper values and benefits.
Establish values that unify and inspire your workforce
Your Values, Vision, and Mission statements can only drive culture if they are tied to goals, are impact-minded, and connected to daily behavior from hiring to advancement and team-building. These core statements need to go behind relatively shallow, easy-to-offer corporate statements, but be the blueprints of a cultural playbook around which your employees can shape their work and morale.
Culture needs to be prioritized before it can be a key driver of employee satisfaction and retention, no less power your ability to recruit driven, top-flight talent. An engaged workforce will want to feel that the company understands the greater benefit (to productivity and potential) that work-life balance, individual well-being, mission-oriented work, and mental health. Do your values even obliquely suggest this? Does your vision seem part-and-parcel with well-being?
The generation entering the workforce now rates your investment in culture and the sense that you are guided by a genuine, considered vision higher than perhaps any previous. Without the feeling that the employer is genuinely invested in their well-being, this generation is far more comfortable either demanding more flexibility and benefits, or simply resigning, leaving the company to spend a greater number of resources simply filling positions, and going deeper into culture debt.
Owl’s Head ensures that your guiding statements provide meaning, create goals, and establish a decision-making framework that can shape your culture and workforce’s expectations.
The unique challenges of maintaining and motivating a hybrid or distributed workforce
The hybrid workforce confronts these questions with notably more at stake, with distributed teams confronting significantly more stress, burnout, feelings of disconnection, and of being unseen. Productive communication is especially key here: you’ll need to know when, where, and how to listen, and how important notes of gratitude can be in sustaining motivation and a feeling of belonging.
Weekly meetings and stand-ups may be as beneficial to camaraderie and collaboration as they are to alignment on projects. Similarly, Enterprise Social Networks are useful not solely for setting meetings and asking quick questions, but sharing goals, bringing new voices into the conversation, personalizing leadership, and publicly recognizing and acknowledging peers. Encourage friendships and connections, and your entire team will feel they have a much broader support network.
You need to put employees front and center, while creating valuable feedback channels and ultimately boosting engagement.
Celebrate your wins, and celebrate your team
Talent is easier to recruit, and may demand less in the way of benefits, if those potential hires believe they are joining a team of talented, visionary, and aspirational professionals. Introducing your team on the strengths of their specializations, particular contributions, and backstories also implies that the company itself values, rewards, promotes, and nurtures talent.
Celebrate wins and the varied (and sometimes unacknowledged) contributors that earned them. Spotlight your “culture champions” that embody and in many cases manifest your core values, in their work and their personal pursuits. If you want a workforce and candidates that appreciate and buy-in to your culture, values, and goals, they should feel that you are similarly invested in their well-being, accomplishments, and deeper ambitions.
Consider, measure, and adjust
Just as your values, vision, and mission statements should be tied to achievable goals, your culture itself should be somewhat measurable. What do you want to see more of, or feel would indicate a much healthier, more satisfied workforce? How can you continue to monitor that? Have you thought through how you can constructively, productively respond to insightful feedback in a manner that increases alignment with your core values and strategic goals?
Employee engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty will follow from any earnest efforts to guide, listen, respond, and recognize. It is a process — and can involve significantly more tools and vehicles than mentioned here — but pays handsomely in the retention of a happy, highly talented, and all-in workforce.
Owl’s Head’s investment in your own company’s virtues, values, and vision, and your ability to create a substantial culture around them, is empowered by our experience developing legitimately compelling and engaging brand experiences. Learn more about how our strategic brand solutions can answer your cultural needs.