It’s no secret that employee turnover can be costly.

Frequent voluntary turnover at your organization can have a negative impact not only on revenue and productivity, but on the morale of existing employees. No organization can continue to thrive without retaining its best employees. The “real” cost of employee turnover includes not only the cost of hiring a new employee, but also the cost of onboarding that individual and the lost productivity that comes while you are getting that new hire up to speed.

When employees leave for a different opportunity, one deciding factor can be the organizational culture. Studies have shown that employees who feel valued and respected are more committed to their employer and tend to remain with organizations longer. An important component of this connection is the culture of the workplace. Businesses often get so focused on completing the tasks at hand that they don’t take the time to step back and refocus on organizational culture. This can be a costly mistake.

Successful organizations have a clearly defined culture and values and have employees that fit that culture. If it’s not clearly designed, your organizational culture will be created—sometimes haphazardly—as a result of the experiences and attitudes of team members.

Before you can make any changes to your organization’s culture, you need to obtain a clear picture of your current culture. What are the shared values, beliefs, behaviors and expectations that make up your organization’s environment?

Conduct an assessment

Assessing organizational culture can be done in several ways, and may include assessment tools, interviews or surveys. However, the simplest tool leadership has at their disposal is observation. Some questions to keep in mind when examining your culture:

  • How do employees interact with each other?
  • How do management and employees communicate?
  • How are decisions made, and at what level?
  • How are conflicts resolved?
  • How does your organization recognize success? What is rewarded? What is criticized?

Having a clear picture of your culture allows you to refine your recruiting and hiring process, ensuring that candidates share similar values and are a good culture fit. Assuming a candidate has the technical expertise for the position, it’s important to ask questions during the hiring process that indicate whether the individual is a good fit for your workplace environment. Introduce the candidate to other employees or solicit opinions of multiple members of your leadership team to get a more accurate picture as to whether the candidate is a good culture fit.

Assessing culture also provides you with a starting point from which to change a negative culture. Understanding how things happen can help start conversations and drive group changes. Culture can be changed, but it will require participation at all levels because a positive organizational culture cannot be mandated.