Can You Save A Broken Company Culture without Tons of Turnover?

May 23, 2019

Is your company culture broken? Various scenarios contribute to a culture that doesn’t work. Bad hires, vague leadership, weak managers, lack of transparency, and complacency are some of the big ones.

Whether you have recently seen some red flags that indicate your company culture is broken or it’s been very apparent to you for some time, what matters now is… what do you do about it? Can you fix it without losing all of your employees?

Fixing a broken culture isn’t easy and you will likely have to say goodbye to some team members along the way as you work to transform your workplace into a better environment. But the answer is YES, you can save a struggling company culture without having to go through a massive turnover, it just takes effort and care to do so. You also have to recognize that some employees actually contribute to the “brokenness”, and you’ll have to part ways with them.

Whatever the case, here are five ways to save a broken company culture without causing tons of turnover in your company.

1. Gather employee opinions

Changing a company culture that you know has major flaws is not easy, so when you do it, you need alignment from the top down AND bottom up.

Take steps towards this alignment by listening to your employees. Create in-depth surveys to give to your employees and encourage honest feedback from all team members. Giving every employee an open opportunity to (anonymously) share their feelings about the workplace in this low-pressure way will help you uncover the specific areas of your current culture situation that need most attention and get closer to the root of whats broken.

A huge added benefit: this step helps every employee feel invested in and part of the changes that are happening around them. Instead of freaking out and quitting, the good, committed employees who get involved in this step will be more likely to stick around.

Don’t just take the surveys and stuff them in a folder on your laptop, though! Use them to…

2. Build new processes based on feedback

Once you’ve gather employee feedback, review the information you’ve learned and look for patterns. If several people comment on the lack of communication from leadership, for example, that’s an improvement area that you should focus on.

From there, create a plan around what areas of your culture you’ll be working on, what actions you’ll take to accomplish that, who will be involved, their individual responsibilities, and the timeline to expect progress. Include as many non-leadership employees as possible as you roll out this plan, and always communicate openly and honestly about the changes to your entire team.

3. Inspire trust and confidence

If you have a broken company culture, you’re likely already experiencing some turnover. But even as you take steps to turn it all around, you should know that employees will – out of suspicion or fear over uncertainty – start looking for other jobs.

Don’t give them a reason to flee.

Communicate often and thoroughly about the company’s plans and goals as you work to become a better employer. Set out timelines, answer questions, and encourage conversations and input. Avoid mixed messages and inconsistent requests that confuse and frustrate employees. Everyone needs to be on the same page and, over time, fractured leader/employee relationships will start to mend.

4. Hold management accountable

Everyone in an organization contributes to a company culture, but when it’s broken it’s usually due to systemic problems that come from the top-down. For example, it could be lack of meaningful support for employees, difficult employees who are given free reign to annoy others, perceived favoritism, or a number of other issues. These things are typical elements of a company culture that company leaders have the power to change and so that’s why they bear the brunt of changing it.

When members of management take accountability and ownership over what they’re able to fix in a workplace environment, employees who might have been flight risks may reconsider staying.

5. Measure progress

A company culture can’t change overnight, so it’s best to check-in with your company culture’s “health” at regular intervals. Give periodic employee surveys that aren’t just once a year, read and respond to your online employee reviews on review sites, and perform exit interviews to stay on the pulse of what employees are thinking and feeling. That way, not only are you able to stay “on the pulse” of your company culture, but it also ensures that it never gets too far gone and truly broken beyond repair.

Having a broken company culture isn’t the end of the world, but it sure feels that way sometimes when you’re in the middle of it and need things to improve. By pinpointing the issues and meeting them with a clear plan and transparency, there’s hope that your culture can be fixed without losing many employees.

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Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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