Workplace culture has become an incredibly important issue for today's employers. In fact, 2016 research by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. and WorkplaceTrends.com revealed that nearly 60 percent of the HR professionals surveyed would fire a high-performing employee who did not fit into the company culture or did not get along with their co-workers.
Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute, said organizations need the right formula to keep employees engaged.
"Workplaces are a complex equation of people, programs and policies that each have a daily impact on employee happiness and engagement," she said in a statement. "Good chemistry with employees starts … with senior leadership identifying the elements of workplace culture that will support their strategy … [and then] ensuring this formula is well understood and executed."
Based on the Kronos and WorkplaceTrends.com research, here are four important elements your company culture needs to keep employees engaged. [Want greater employee buy-in? Try these tactics.]
Work-life balance ranks as one of the most important aspect of workplace culture, according to 40 percent of the employees Kronos surveyed. Nearly one-third of employees believe the best way their employer can help them achieve a positive work-life balance is by giving them paid or unpaid time off.
A flexible work environment also contributes to both retention and work-life balance. Kronos' research revealed that 24 percent of HR professionals and 35 percent of managers recognize that providing employees with more flexibility is an effective strategy for retention. Employees agree: Approximately one-quarter of those surveyed believe flexible schedules and flexible managers are required for a positive work-life balance.
Investing in your staff's career development is an effective way to keep them engaged. Rather than always looking outside the company to fill a role, 30 percent of bosses hire from within the organization to hold on to top workers. You can also offer mentorship programs – according to Kronos, millennial employees in particular prefer to have a mentor in the workplace.
Career development is especially important for employees at the management level. Cord Himelstein, vice president of marketing and communications for Michael C. Fina Recognition, said it's not enough for managers to be personable and friendly – they also need to be well-versed in things like public speaking, emotional intelligence and conflict resolution.
"An engaging workplace provides support and training for managers to help them grow in their roles as well," Himelstein added.
The majority of employees surveyed say they get a high sense of job satisfaction when they get a simple "thank you" from their boss. Nearly half of the HR professionals surveyed think offering more rewards and recognition is an important way to retain employees.
"A healthy mix of formal and informal recognition, daily achievement awards, and milestone celebrations makes engagement an ongoing conversation in the workplace and helps keep managers from becoming detached or distracted from their teams and overall goals," said Himelstein.
Scott Johnson, founder of Motivosity. agreed, noting that employees have four key needs that, when met, lead to high levels of engagement: trust, autonomy, recognition and positivity. When employees are trusted to take ownership over problems and contribute extra effort to fix them, it drives increased recognition from peers and creates an environment of positivity, he said.
An important part of helping employees feel recognized is to ask for active feedback about their thoughts and experiences. Kronos found that nearly half of HR professionals and managers regularly ask employees for their opinions to preserve and strengthen their workplace culture.
Trusting employees to get the job done and direct their own workflows is key to building a culture of engagement, said Johnson.
"Corporate everything is designed to require conformity and approvals at every step," he said. "People get engaged when they have ownership and autonomy."
Ownership and autonomy require the company to extend a certain level of trust to the employee, said Johnson. When employees can point to clear ways that trust has been extended, what they do every day takes on new meaning.
"Trust drives ownership and autonomy, which creates more willingness to contribute to solutions," Johnson added. "This is what engagement is all about."
Additional reporting by Chad Brooks. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.