People and Culture: Your Company’s Success Depends On It

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“People are your most important asset.”

It’s a cliche we know all too well in the business world. But is it something we believe and, better yet, make a priority when it comes to company culture?

Employees are the single most important investment any business makes; after all, a company is only as good as its people. It’s the people who are tasked with delivering on the mission, vision, products, and services on a daily basis. It’s the employees—from front-line workers to the C-suite—that make it all happen.

Now more than ever, organizations need to commit to this ideology by engraining it into the company culture and putting it into action. Today’s corporate landscape is rife with examples of how quickly and drastically things are changing. For the first time, five generations of workers are together in the workplace. The days of lifetime employment at a single company are long gone. Many employees now favor professional growth and development over compensation, while businesses struggle  to find, attract and retain talent.

As employees change jobs more frequently, turnover takes a bigger toll on the entire company. It becomes a systemic issue, affecting employee morale and performance to the company’s bottom line. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50 – 60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total associated turnover costs ranging from 90 – 200% of annual salary.

It’s a given that actively engaged employees who feel valued will help their company outperform the competition—yet most companies still fall short. In May 2015, Gallup reported that the majority of U.S. workers (51%) were “not engaged” in their jobs and 17.5% were “actively disengaged.”

[tweet “51% of U.S. workers are not engaged in their jobs, according to 2015 @Gallup report.”]

Offering standard benefits—competitive wages, health benefits, vacation days, a 401k, stock options—used to be all a company needed to attract and retain top talent. Unfortunately, many companies seem to ignore essential factors that help maximize employee potential and impact the overall work experience—professional and career development, learning opportunities, coaching, mentorship and ongoing feedback.

It’s a missed opportunity.

As the founder of SurePeople and former CEO of a technology company that was named one of Advertising Age’s “Best Places to Work,” I’m a firm believer that it’s every company’s duty to create these opportunities. In fact, it’s the very bedrock of SurePeople’s company culture. Here are some ways I’ve put into practice the idea that people are the most important asset:

Start with the Right People

A business will only be successful if it has the right people in the right place; it starts with hiring the right people.

CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh is often quoted saying, “One bad hire can lead to a domino effect of more bad hires and decisions costing a company millions.”

Look beyond the candidate’s relevant experiences or technical skills. Instead, consider using an assessment built on psychometric testing standards and backed by scientific reliability and validity. One that digs deeper than an interview to help you better understand a candidate’s personality traits, characteristics, and soft skills.

Emotional intelligence factors—like the ability to collaborate effectively, solve problems, make decisions or be open to feedback—will play a big role in their own success and the success of your company.

Give People a Purpose

Companies need to create a strong foundation for their people—one that gives everyone a purpose that they can believe in, become passionate about, and that guides them to success through clarity.

Let employees in on the big picture so they have a sense of belonging. Even better, allow them to contribute to the big picture so that they feel valued.

Leadership guru and famed author of “Start With Why” Simon Sinek says it best:

When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.

Democratize Leadership Development

Many companies invest in the professional development and growth of their leadership teams, but neglect to develop their front-line workers and supervisors.

A recent Harvard Business Review survey notes that only 12% of international business leaders feel that their organization invested sufficiently in the development of front-line managers.

Let’s not forget that most employee learning and development efforts also take the form of a “one-size-fits-all” approach, despite companies having a workforce that spans different generations, backgrounds, levels and geographic locations.

As my Chief Strategy Officer Demetra Anagnostopoulos often says, “I believe it is just as valuable to move 2,000 people two steps forward as it is to move 200 people 20 steps forward.”

All of your employees should know that you value them as much as you value your customers. Investing in the development and growth of your people with hyper-relevant learning opportunities meant for them, as well as for your organization, is an investment in the long-term growth of your company. The development of your employees goes hand-in-hand with their engagement and performance.

How is your company showing employees that they are your most important asset? Please share in the comments.

NOTE: This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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