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Why you need a culture reset in 2022

Written by: Brad Shuck, Ph. D., Professor of Human Resources and Organizational Development, University of Louisville, Co-Founder, OrgVitals; and Amy Stern, Managing Director, Research and Strategy, BI WORLDWIDE
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There are uncontrollable factors contributing to the state of the workforce right now, but for employees who are deciding what's important for their future, learn how we can control the culture we create and become a place employees choose to stay.

As researchers, it was our natural instinct to try and figure out why some Canadians are leaving their jobs – and what company leaders can do about it. In looking at the data we’ve collected, nothing about work has gotten dramatically worse since 2019. The problems that were there before still exist. But what we found is a significant difference in people’s intent to leave. We asked two questions:

1) Do you wish you were working somewhere else?
2) Are you planning to leave your organization within the next 12 months?

While people’s desire to leave has stayed relatively stable (about 1 in 3 employees), their level of intent and willingness to take action increased in 2021.

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Throughout the pandemic, many employees rearranged their lives to accommodate new and different ways of working and now realize their lives, and the way work fits into them, can be changed indefinitely. Other workers – in industries like healthcare, education, and manufacturing, to name a few – have been put in impossible situations. The strain on those workers continues to be so great that “burned out” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

But what has become universally apparent is the one underlying factor that either keeps employees around or gives them the push to leave:

Culture.

In fact, 51% of people cited culture as the primary reason for leaving their company.

The culture you create for employees is a differentiator in so many ways. Employees are now looking at work in terms of how it fits into their lifestyle, instead of how their life fits around their work. If they are in the segment of employees who have gone from wishing they work somewhere else to actually intending to leave, the first thing they’ll look at is the culture they experience on a day-to-day basis – and decide if it’s worth it to stick around. (Here’s our approach on what it takes to create a meaningful work culture.)

Use these three steps to evaluate and reset your culture:

1. Understand:

Gather feedback from all levels of your organization, from top leaders to front-line employees and even alumni or potential candidates. This first step will help you understand how people perceive your culture now and what gaps you may need to fill to meet evolving worker expectations.

2. Design:

Once you know where you stand, you can adjust and strengthen your employee value proposition to better reflect where you’d like to go. This strategic phase allows you to carefully define what makes your culture unique, choosing words, phrases, visuals, and experiences that you will use to communicate both internally and externally. In short, it’s your way of saying: “This is what it’s like to work here.”

3. Activate:

Bring your culture to life in every touchpoint employees have with your brand. From the moment a potential candidate starts to consider your company, to how they’re welcomed leading up to and on their first day, to what they experience at work on a daily basis and how they are celebrated for big accomplishments and milestones – all of this contributes to creating a culture that will attract and retain employees.

There are uncontrollable factors contributing to the state of the workforce right now. We knew going into 2020 that there’d be a labour shortage due to the Boomer population reaching age of retirement (though this was dramatically accelerated by the pandemic). We’re also seeing low-wage earners being able to make ends meet with one higher-paying job where they used to have to work two or three jobs to get by. But for the remainder of employees, who are deciding what’s important for their future, we can control the culture we create and become a place employees choose to stay.

The best way to get started is to get in touch.

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Dr. Brad Shuck

Associate Professor and Program Director of the Human Resource and Organizational Development program University of Louisville

Dr. Brad Shuck is an internationally recognized business thought leader, entrepreneur, and academic in the areas of employee engagement, leadership development, and organizational culture. He is the author of Employee Engagement: A Research Overview (Routledge, 2020) and has published or presented more than 350 scholarly articles, book chapters, and invited presentations. Shuck holds five US Copyrights for his research-driven, intellectual property on employee engagement and culture management. His work has been featured in US-based international media outlets including Forbes, The Washington Post, and TIME, as well as international outlets such as Business World Online, India’s Economic Times, and the Hindu Times. He has given Keynote addresses on four of the seven continents including these countries: China, Spain, India, Panama, the United Kingdom and across the United States for some of the world's largest and most admired companies. Shuck is a tenured Full Professor and Co-Founder of OrgVitals, a purpose-built culture management software company. He is a member of the Honourable Order of Kentucky Colonels and holds advanced degrees in Counselling, Student Affairs, Human Resource Development, and Adult Education.

Amy Stern

Managing Director, Research and Strategy, BI WORLDWIDE

Amy Stern is Managing Director of Research and Strategy at BI WORLDWIDE. Her research has resulted in peer-reviewed publications, invited lectures, research awards, and valued insights for many clients. Amy’s deep understanding of employee experimental psychology allows her to combine critical thinking and creativity to create custom research that gets to the heart of diversity, equity, and inclusion at work. She advises companies on how to create an equitable and inclusive workforce where all employees can thrive.