Four myths about company culture and staff retention debunked

Businesses need to throw out assumed knowledge when it comes to what makes people thrive and stay at a particular company, according to research published last month.

Workplace analytics startup Culture Amp crunched data from more than 60,000 employees around the world to find out how workplace engagement is changing.

The New Tech Benchmark Report found employee perks might not be as powerful as people believe them to be, along with a number of other conclusions that debunk common assumptions about staff retention.

Here are four myths debunked by the research.

Myth 1. People leave managers, not companies

There’s a saying in business that people leave their managers, not the company itself.

However Jason McPherson, chief scientist at Culture Amp, says the data compiled by his company suggests otherwise.

“People get angry when they hear that – they refuse to acknowledge it,” McPherson says.

“But in modern companies, when your manager is often changing, it would make sense a manager isn’t going to have a great effect. In small, fast-growing companies, we tend to see leadership having a greater impact than someone’s direct manager.”

Myth 2. Millennials are negative and unreliable

McPherson says Culture Amp’s research also debunks the idea that millennials are hard to please in comparison to other generations.

In fact, he believes the idea of lumping people aged anywhere between 18 to 35 into the same group is ridiculous.

“To me, an 18-year-old and a 35-year-old seem to be a generation apart,” McPherson says.

“But we found millennials, across the board, are no more negative than the other generations. Even the 18- to 24-year-olds weren’t more negative than the other age groups.”

“The one finding we did find was people in that age group – 18 to 24 – were a little bit more likely to indicate they would be looking for a job at another company. But it wasn’t a huge gap.”

Myth 3. Perks make people happy 

Employee perks – such as free lunch – aren’t as important to staff engagement as most people think, according to McPherson.

“We’ve done some very specific surveys delving into different perks, which ones they like the most, but we don’t tend to see it having a very strong relationship,” he says.

“Some of the perks in the US where they almost make it easy to live at the company … there is a growing cynicism about what those companies are trying to encourage. Originally, that wasn’t the case.”

Myth 4. Businesses keep employees by paying them more

McPherson also says Culture Amp’s data shows there isn’t a strong link between someone’s pay and their willingness to stay with the company.

“The question around pay doesn’t really differentiate people who stay or leave,” he says.

“Unless it gets really out of whack with the market, that’s when it does show up.”

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