“People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers” – Marcus Buckingham
I saw this quote circulating my LinkedIn newsfeed about a week ago and, naturally, it sparked a debate in the office. If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know that I’ve experienced some interesting workplace attitudes and this quote really frustrated me.
For starters, I find it to be quite short-sighted to assume that a decent boss is enough of an incentive to stay, and that a good boss can overrule the environment of a bad company. Having been a manager, I can tell you that sometimes you are incredibly limited by your company and to the extent of which you can go above and beyond for your colleagues.
There’s been a number of times where I’ve had to consider, do I compromise my job or my integrity? And it’s only been in companies where poor upper management, and by this I mean MDs, CEOs etc., have lacked any kind of empathy or focus on employee wellbeing. Those decision makers are who make the ‘company’, including its brand, ethos and culture. You could argue that when you leave, you leave them, your boss – but the ‘company’ is not made up of one manager and it’s never down to one single person to change that, no matter their position or job title. Unless your job title is (if this is a thing, please make yourselves known) Company Culture and Employee Wellbeing Manager.
What is good company culture?
Companies with a more traditional ethos and work ethic may describe good company culture as having a work force who are committed; working overtime, refraining from taking all their leave, are on-call and who ultimately put their work before anything else. It’s not an ethos I personally have experienced much of, partly because this is quite a dated way of thinking and partly because we’ve moved into an era where we no longer have jobs for life.
As a result of this we are forced to work harder, for fear of being replaced. The workforce, especially in an industry such as marketing, is extremely competitive. It’s a struggle to say no and expectations are higher yet we are not being recognised for our work….Okay, millennial hardships rant over. Being part of a generation that is overwhelmingly overworked and underpaid (and thankfully as a whole, this isn’t a reflection of my own job) and suffering an epidemic of deteriorating mental health is what has peaked my interest of company culture in the first place. For me, and for more forward thinking industries, particularly in tech start-ups, good company culture is focused on fostering positive employee wellbeing; creating a work environment that actively supports employees to reduce likelihood of stress, burnout and encouraging a healthy work/life balance.
Do incentives work?
I’ve worked with companies that offer a variety of incentives from discount vouchers to trips to Vegas. Do they make up for rubbish management? Sadly no, no they do not. I can tell you that getting 10% off at a high street store I’d never go to doesn’t make it okay for me to be shouted at while at work (true story) and the idea of going to Vegas with a bunch of co-workers that don’t treat me well isn’t my idea of a holiday.
To those of you who use incentives to entice and retain employees, in my opinion the priority should be cultivating a supportive and relaxed environment, if not for your employees, then for your company. Wouldn’t you rather have a happy and communicative workforce rather than a bunch of uninspired, robotic employees whose top reason for choosing your company was because you offered discount cinema tickets? Arguably, top talent want to be rewarded: I guess the difference is looking at where your employee’s motivations lie.
Personally, I’d like to be rewarded for hitting targets with a bonus that I can spend as I want to, indicating to me that my company recognises and rewards hard workers. I think I have such a hard-line approach to this because, in my experience, any company I’ve worked for that really boasts incentives uses it as a mask for failings in other, more important areas. No one has ever gotten out of bed for a 5% discount at a bookstore. I have however, gotten out of bed because I’ve felt like my work contributes to something bigger and that despite all this hard work, I know I’ll be supported and recognised for my achievements. That’s something a free Krispy Kreme doughnut cannot offer.
This is part 1 of a 2 part series on How to Create Good Company Culture. The second part of this series will look at Proffessionalism vs Familarity in the office and how this contributes to a happy and productive environment. To find out more about how to attract top talent into your business why not get in touch with us and find out how our branding and company culture workshops can help your business.