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Is The Great Resignation the secret sauce for amazing company culture?

By Jenna Miller
February 3, 2022
4 minute read

If you’re a Chief of Staff feeling nervous about The Great Resignation, you’re going to want to keep reading. As the Chief of Staff for Betterworks, I encourage you to flip the script. The Great Resignation allows employees to take stock of their priorities and move to jobs that better suit their interests, career goals, and values. 

On the other hand, with so many new job seekers and open roles in the market, companies have an opportunity to recruit top talent looking for a fresh start. But once you get them in the door, how do you retain that top talent and ensure they (and your current employees) stick around and help your company hit its goals? 

Focus on what you can influence: company culture. The following steps outline how you can listen and learn from employees, set the tone for your company’s culture, and will take you from panic mode to planning mode.

Listen and Survey Employees to Learn What Resonates With Them

When you have a strong company culture your employees are more likely to identify with the mission and vision of your organization. This will ultimately lead to a more engaged (and retained) workforce. The best way to develop your employee culture is by listening and learning from your employees. 

At Betterworks we use Betterworks Engage to survey our team. We use the tool to collect meaningful manager and peer feedback and capture continuous insights regarding inclusion, sentiment, and other important cultural influences. 

Whatever tool you choose to better understand your team, make sure you do the following so your employee surveys have the most impact.

  • Make all survey responses fully anonymous. Employees need to feel like they have a safe space to be honest and transparent about culture. 
  • All surveys should be brief, focused, and capitalize off of any information you already know. For example, if you want to learn about how your company values are resonating with employees, ask a Likert scale survey question like, “I understand and support my company’s mission and vision.” I also like to leave an open-ended option at the end of each survey to encourage employees to explain any answers on which they may want to elaborate.  
  • Make sure employees have enough time to respond. Keep your culture survey open for at least a couple of weeks so busy employees have time to respond and those who might be taking personal time off have an opportunity to answer once they return. 

During The Great Resignation, the following survey topics can help you better understand your team, their sentiment, and what benefits and resources they might be looking for. 

  • Work-life balance and any resources offered to improve it.
  • Learning and development opportunities for employees.
  • Benefits — don’t be afraid to think outside the box here! At Betterworks we give employees the second Friday of each month off to combat burnout.
  • Sentiment regarding the company outlook and leadership team(s).

All of the above topics will influence your overall culture but keep in mind: You should never survey employees about topics you cannot take real action to address! For instance, if you know that you don’t have the budget to offer additional e-learning and development courses as a company benefit, there’s no use asking employees about that. Instead, you could survey employees to see if they are interested in additional mentorship and career development from top-performing employees as a free but valuable alternate course of action. 

To learn more about how to create the right culture survey for your team, check out this blog from Betterworks’ partner and culture experts, There Be Giants.

Show Employees a Plan of Action 

The next step to any good culture survey is learning from the responses and making a plan of action. As a Chief of Staff, you have an opportunity to continue to champion this work by making sure that the key learnings are appropriately shared along with a plan of action. 

There’s no denying that many cultural problems are complex and take months (or even years) to overcome, but each survey should clue you in on at least a few things that can be addressed more quickly. Once you’ve taken the time to survey employees, it’s important to earn their trust by taking real action to address their concerns. And thanks to The Great Resignation, getting buy-in for this step should be much easier than it was in say, 2019. This job-hopping spree has encouraged many companies to adopt agile processes and respond to employees’ needs in real-time. 

The first step is to build a plan that breaks down your monthly, quarterly, and yearly culture goals. Depending on your survey results these culture goals could be a mix of easy wins (ex: instituting “no meetings Friday” to carve out more work-time for employees) and larger goals (re-examining your benefits to see what additional stipends or opportunities could be offered for learning and development). 

Present a simple overview of the findings at a company All-Hands or through a company-wide email. No announcement is complete without thanking employees for their time and reminding them that all answers were anonymous. Additionally, you should share what actionable steps will be taken post-survey, even if it’s as small as sharing that HR is partnering with leadership to determine the next steps, highlighting that you will follow up with more information in the following months, and offering one “easy win” you plan to tackle first.

Demonstrating to your employees that their feedback matters fosters trust, shows that your company wants to be a great place for employees to work, and can bolster word-of-mouth recruitment opportunities. After all, if current employees are feeling supported (even if it’s an easy win like “no meetings Friday”) they are likely to want to recruit others to their company. 

Never Forget Your Impact

A Chief of Staff has an important leadership role within a company. If your company wants to improve employee recognition, increase participation in remote culture programs, or host an exciting offsite, remember you have an opportunity to help set the tone of the organization. 

Not many roles bridge the gap between employees, operations, and leadership quite like a Chief of Staff. So make sure that you take the time to listen and learn from employees and pass those insights along to leadership. When you can, try to be involved in remote (or in-person) culture-building activities!

All employees — from leadership down to part-time workers — have an impact on your company’s culture. 

Ready for more? Here are five ways that HR teams can build and nurture a feedback culture.