After reading Tomer Tagrin’s excellent post, “How can you measure your company culture?”, you’re now measuring e-churn, right? (We are: it’s 0%.)
The great thing about Tomer’s post is that it introduces a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for your company culture. And once you can measure something, you can improve it. The question is: how?
Why Employees Quit
Here's the naive view of reducing e-churn: Entice employees to stay with money—big salaries, big bonuses, big perks. Unfortunately for many startups, it’s simply impossible to pay as much as the Googles of the world. Luckily, money isn't the answer to the e-churn problem: the median tenure at Google is among the lowest in the country.
It turns out that the way employees feel about their job matters a lot more than money. Study after study shows that the reason workers leave is because they feel underappreciated, underrecognized, and undervalued. In fact, behavioral economist Dan Ariely has found that there are two things that make us love our jobs: a sense of purpose, and a sense of progress.
We feel a sense of purpose when we get feedback that our job matters and makes a difference: to fellow colleagues, to customers, to the world. We feel a sense of progress when we get feedback on our own performance, and see ourselves improving toward eventual mastery. Efforts to build a great company culture should then focus on creating an environment where both of these things happen on a regular basis.
Tools for Improving Company Culture
Founders are always looking for better, easier, cheaper tools that will move the needle on different KPIs. I devour posts about the tools that other founders use. But where are the tools for improving company culture?
For too long, building a great company culture has been thought of as a “dark art.” Some leaders can do it, others can’t. How it’s done is shrouded in mystery.
This is reminiscent of how marketing was done about 10 years ago. Driven by personality and gut, not data. Thankfully, marketing is now a data-driven profession, as we’ve learned how to measure, predict, and drive growth, and built a toolset around it (Hubspot, Buffer, etc).
The same is beginning to happen for company culture. At Bonusly, we’ve built one of the first SaaS tools for improving your company culture. Along the way, we’ve gotten to know a handful of other great companies that are also working toward the same goal, albeit from different angles. Here’s a preliminary founders toolbelt for reducing e-churn and improving culture:
Small Improvements: don’t do annual performance reviews. They’re stupid. Do frequent, smaller, easier reviews that help your employees make small improvements every day.
iDoneThis: List out your daily accomplishments. In the words of Josh Pigford, “Warm Fuzzies as a Service.”
Bonusly: bonuses that actually work. Instead of giving out big bonuses at the end of the year, or asking managers to dole out spot bonuses, use the wisdom of the crowd. Employees give each other instant micro-bonuses for the daily wins that add up to big successes over time. Analytics tools help you learn more about the strengths, relationships, and accomplishments of your team.