Even in today’s competitive hiring environment, many companies take the position that their corporate culture is what it is — and expect workers to adapt to it. Unfortunately, that approach does nothing to engage employees, help them be productive or make them feel like they never want to leave. Instead, taking serious steps to build or enhance your organizational culture can help your business become a talent magnet.

Corporate culture drives job satisfaction — and vice versa. While many companies are expanding their payrolls, they may still be unable to hire the skilled workers they need. In a Robert Half survey, 35 percent of more than 1,000 workers polled said they would decline a job offer if the role was a perfect fit, but the company culture wasn't. And this is on top of another problem: talented employees leaving to pursue new opportunities.

One thing employers can do to address both issues is assess their corporate culture and determine whether it promotes job satisfaction. It’s not enough for employers to offer competitive compensation and compelling benefits and perks. These things are very important, but they alone won’t make employees feel truly satisfied in their jobs — or compel them to stay with an employer for the long term. According to Robert Half’s workplace happiness research, professionals derive job satisfaction from less tangible things, including:

  • Having pride in their organization
  • Feeling appreciated
  • Being treated with fairness and respect
  • Having a sense of accomplishment
  • Engaging in interesting and meaningful work
  • Building positive workplace relationships

Even though you can’t control every factor that contributes to your employees’ satisfaction at work, it is possible to create a workplace that allows positivity and productivity to flourish. Here are four tips for building that type of corporate environment:

1. Provide employees meaningful work

Talented people want to be in jobs that make the best use of their abilities and give them a sense of accomplishment. Make sure all your employees understand how their work impacts the firm’s bottom line.

If possible, help them also see the connection between what they do and the company’s core mission and broader business goals. Staff meetings, performance reviews and regular check-ins all provide opportunities for managers to explain to employees how their contributions benefit the business.


2. Give workers opportunities to take on new challenges

If you learn everything there is to know about a job but aspire to keep growing as a professional, why would you stay in your current work situation? You wouldn’t.

That’s a hard lesson many employers have learned. Millennial workers, in particular, value continuous learning and are constantly looking to build new skills and tackle new challenges. Don’t let talented people stagnate at your firm if you want them to stay. Build a corporate culture that emphasizes ongoing professional development for those who seek it.

3. Be proactive about discussing career paths

Another tough lesson is discovering valued employees left the firm simply because they didn’t see an opportunity to advance in their career. Keep in mind that “up” might actually mean “different” — and not a supervisory role. For example, an employee might want more responsibility, like handling bigger projects or accounts, or to work in a different department.

Take time to understand what each team member aspires to be or do in your organization, then help your employees set those plans in motion. Connecting staff with leadership training, cross-training and continuing education are just some ways to foster a work culture where people can reach their professional goals.

4. Help colleagues establish bonds

Workplace friendships are powerful. Our company’s research shows that when people like what they do and the people they work with, they’re more likely to stay with the company. In fact, in a survey by Robert Half, 62 percent of employees said having coworkers who are friends outside of the office positively affects productivity.

Managers can play an important role in helping their employees build camaraderie. From team-building exercises to staff outings to mentoring arrangements, there are many ways to help your staff feel more connected to each other as well as to the firm. Encouraging employees to share success stories of how they worked together to solve problems or accomplished other things for the business — and giving them open praise for their achievements — also helps your workers feel like they’re part of a winning team.

It’s easy for employers to view corporate culture as a nebulous thing that is less important to an employee’s job satisfaction than salary, benefits and perks. But the takeaway here is the strong correlation between a company’s corporate environment and its ability to attract and retain talent. And while corporate culture can be challenging for a business to define and shape, doing little or nothing to make your company a place where people want to work all but assures your failure to secure the talent you need.

Paul McDonald is senior executive director at Robert Half. He writes and speaks frequently on hiring, workplace and career management topics. Over the course of more than 30 years in the recruiting field, McDonald has advised thousands of company leaders and job seekers on how to hire and get hired.

McDonald joined Robert Half in 1984 as a recruiter for financial and accounting professionals in Boston, following a public accounting career with Price Waterhouse. In the 1990s, he became president of the Western United States overseeing all of the company’s operations in the region. McDonald became senior executive director of Robert Half Management Resources in 2000, and assumed his current role in 2012. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from St. Bonaventure University in New York.