Retaining Employees: Is it About Better Pay or Better Culture?

Have you ever quit a job to take less pay?

Some scoff at the idea, but after the years of fear, anxiety and overwork post-recession, a good company culture in which employees feel valued, appreciated and able to contribute to meaningful work is more important than salary level. A pair of studies found just that:

The findings of a recent Monster/Unum study of job seekers determined that, over everything else, 87 percent of employees want a company ‘that truly cares about the well-being of its employees.’ By contrast, only 66 percent of respondents rated a high base salary as very important.

Another 2011 Unum survey with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services solicited human resource executives’ opinions on this issue, with similar results. This research found that corporate culture is critical to driving engagement, recruitment and retention of a quality workforce.

A company’s values and focus on employee fulfillment are apparently the most important factors in attracting and engaging quality employees, and being a company that cares about the well-being of its staff was twice as likely to be viewed as very important in attracting and retaining staff as providing a high base salary.”

What is your employee value proposition?

And if that’s not enough to make you reconsider the powerful role of your culture in your workplace, keep this bit of advice from Steve Ford, chair of OI Partners, in mind:

Employees make career-related resolutions much more often than bosses — however, the top resolution that workers make each year is to find a new job. If more managers resolved to develop their employees’ leadership skills, invite their input, demonstrate continued interest in their careers and recognize their contributions, fewer workers would be determining to find new jobs each year.”

What is your employee value proposition (EVP)? Why would the stars in your industry want to work for your organization? If you can’t articulate that clearly today, then why would the stars in your own company want to continue to work for you?

Like core values and mission statements, EVPs are mere words on a page unless leadership at all levels works to make it a reality through the culture of the organization.

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Then again, it’s not just leadership or management responsibility to see to this. It’s up to every employee in the organization to look out for their fellow teammates, notice those working hard to demonstrate the values while achieving the objectives, and then appropriately and frequently thank them for it.

What drives the culture in your organization?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.

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