A focus on culture equates to retention

Does culture matter? If you’re asking the inaugural class of Smart Culture Award honorees, the answer is a resounding yes.

A strong culture is a meaningful contributor to a company’s success. The economy is continuing to improve, which has allowed once timid employers to begin hiring again.

Many job candidates now have greater mobility, giving them leverage when it comes to negotiating for a position as companies compete for the best candidates. An inviting culture can help a company differentiate itself from competitors that may offer better pay.

There’s also a generational shift, which is bringing with it a change in the employer/employee relationship. The younger generations want to see themselves and their values reflected in the values of their employers. And in some cases, they’ll work for less and stay longer if they can be proud of where they work.

Companies are, at a minimum, shrewd to recognize these shifts. As you’ll read in the profiles of the Smart Culture Award honorees, companies are finding ways to connect with their workforce and provide an environment that breaks down barriers to productivity.

Flexibility is among the more common, and most common sense, perks. Some companies are experimenting with condensed workweeks, offering employees the option to work four 10-hour days to get an extended weekend. Others allow employees to set their own shifts.

Recognition is another common thread. Whether it’s from the top down, with leadership singling out those who have been working extraordinarily hard, or it’s peers nominating peers for their outstanding contributions, the practice serves to reinforce company values.

But, and I think more importantly, the recognition reinforces the idea that a company’s success is wholly contingent on employees’ strength of ability and willingness to further their employers’ goals.

Without employees, there’s not much a company could hope to achieve. Keeping them happy, recognizing their sacrifices and making life a little easier aren’t expensive propositions. But struggling to fill open positions when unhappy employees leave for better conditions is.

Adam Burroughs is the associate editor of Smart Business Akron/Canton