Guest Column - May/June 2016

Company Culture: The Soul of the Contemporary, Successful Workplace

By Paul Gordon

From the progressive, emerging companies in Silicon Valley to the "buttoned up," traditional offices on Wall Street, company culture is a reflection of the constantly evolving organization. The thumbprint of any workplace, an organization's DNA is unique and linear to a company's core values and goals. It has an impact on a variety of different company aspects, most of which directly influence employee engagement, motivation and overall well-being.

Today, businesses everywhere are struggling to recognize the significance of a healthy, outlined workplace culture and its effects on employee engagement and retention. According to Deloitte's 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey, employee engagement and corporate culture are a major problem in modern offices, rising to become the number-one challenge companies face around the world.

So, why is organizational culture so important? The relationship between employee engagement and retention is incredibly clear: Companies with a greater, more positive culture will succeed in having happier employees for longer periods of time.

Employees want to feel appreciated and to do valuable work. They want to collaborate, learn and be productive. They want to wake up every day and look forward to going to work rather than dreading it. Companies that pinpoint what qualities foster happy, motivated employees are the companies that succeed internally and ultimately meet their goals. On the other hand, corporations that disregard change and ignore the signs of a failing company culture have disenchanted employees and a worse employee retention rate.

A Columbia University study showed that the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with rich company culture is 13.9 percent, whereas the probability of job turnover in a toxic company culture stands at 48.4 percent. A high turnover rate is the one red flag senior leaderships should be wary of and should always spark a call-to-action.

The costs for turnover is extremely high:

  • Average cost to replace a $30,000/year employee = $4,800
  • Average cost to replace a $50,000/year employee = $9,850
  • Average cost to replace a $75,000/year employee = $15,300

Unhappy employees are another obvious, tell-tale sign of a failing organizational culture. Employees who feel unappreciated and unmotivated will take less pride in their job and will ultimately become toxic, spreading their dissatisfaction around the office like cancer. It is vital for businesses to recognize the signs of a defeated corporate culture and take the next steps in correcting and rebuilding these issues.

Today, businesses everywhere are struggling to recognize the significance of a healthy, outlined workplace culture and its effects on employee engagement and retention.

So, how can business leaders reshape their company's environment and attitude? Positive organizational culture begins from the hiring process and finding the right "cultural fit." Employers should know upfront that good employees who have done their homework will be able to sniff out positive and negative company cultures instantly, and will always avoid the latter.

In order to attract and retain the winners, company culture should be established early and clearly defined. From there, hiring employees who share the company's core values and goals are the individuals that will easily transition into a business and add to a company's success. Corporate recruiters and HR staff should be trained to ask interview questions that will determine if a candidate will embrace and reflect company culture and business philosophy.

A solid onboarding process is the next step in engaging and retaining new employees, as new hires who undergo an organized onboarding process are 58 percent more likely to stay with a company after three years. This means developing a sound job description so employees know their daily responsibilities and their individual role in the bigger picture. A clear extension plan to stimulate growth and personal achievement as well as departmental cross-training also allows companies the most out of their new hire.

Finally, peer-to-peer recognition programs are a strategic method companies can implement to engage new talent hires while motivating pre-existing employees. Peer-to-peer recognition and rewards programs offer a variety of benefits for both the company and its staff. Through recognition of dedication and accomplishments across all work levels, employee engagement, proficiency and company success are improved. In fact, companies with peer-to-peer recognition are 35 percent more likely to have a positive impact on financial results and a lower turnover rate than manager-only recognition. Why? It's simple. Humans are hardwired to make decisions based on what their peers say and recommend. When employees, no matter their work experience or title, can recognize each other's achievements, it encourages them to continue doing a good job and further influence other peers. Launching these programs is an easy way to keep employees engaged long-term, support camaraderie and foster a healthy office culture.

Paul Gordon is Senior Vice President of Sales at Rymax Marketing Services, a full-service loyalty marketing provider in the incentive industry solely focused on creating programs and events to drive ROI through brand name rewards. For 20 years organizations partnered with Rymax have seen an increase in employee performance and retention, customer loyalty and overall revenue. For more information, visit