International High Tech Equipment Manufacturer Builds a People-First Culture

“You could feel the culture shift taking place, and it was much faster than we thought it could be. Today there’s a feeling of energy and renewal. Groups are communicating and morale is good. We’ve built our ideal for a positive culture into daily interactions and what we expected is true – if we have a good culture, people will be engaged.”

Senior HR Director, Fortune 500 Manufacturer

In 2021, an international high-tech equipment manufacturing company was losing two to three engineers a week during the Great Resignation, resulting in a sudden drop in organizational knowledge and morale.

“We exhausted every internal resource yet the outpouring of talent and our tribal knowledge continued,” says Senior HR Director. “We engaged Ridley Consulting Group to help everyone look at the situation differently.”

By conducting a series of interviews with leaders and employees, RCG realized that the culture was extremely work-focused. RCG recommended shifting the focus to a culture of belonging that helped employee feel valued and respected. RCG and the senior leadership team laid the foundation for rebuilding a thriving workplace culture that would be grounded in personal connection, communication, responsiveness and accountability.

Strategies they pushed included:

Being clear about the intention to invest in culture.
Each member of the senior leadership team personally committed to investing in culture and communicated that commitment through many channels – town hall meetings, the internal newsletter, manager-employee one-on-ones and more. Leaders continually communicate what the company is doing and why, the direction for the future, and how employees can proactively engage. And leaders hold themselves accountable for demonstrating their commitment to culture through words and actions by making culture a regular agenda item during leadership meetings.

Creating options for employees to get involved.
The leadership team offered options to participate so that employees could get involved comfortably in building up a culture of belonging. Now, there are always opportunities for employees to express their thoughts and define how they want to contribute to building a strong culture, from surveys to town halls to being part of the newly formed Social and Culture Committee.

Weaving culture into everything.
Leaders are keeping culture top of mind company-wide by making it part of regular daily interactions. Meetings are no longer just about the work; they talk about the approach to work and how employees are feeling about it. Two of the most powerful questions managers are asking employees: How are you feeling? and What can I do for you?

In addition, the annual company-wide engagement survey has been expanded to include questions about the culture, so it’s not only about how active employees are, but how they are feeling about being part of the team.

“Leaders and managers have found their own authentic contributions to a positive culture,” notes the Senior HR Director. “The outcome is that employees see their leaders are interested in them as people, that it’s not just focused on work. We’re having very different conversations that are about listening and culture and employees’ growth and development.”

Within a matter of months, resignations dropped considerably. HR’s dual investment in benefit and policy changes coupled with the investment in culture has stabilized the workforce.

“You could feel the culture shift taking place, and it was much faster than we thought it could be,” says the Senior HR Director. “Today there’s a feeling of energy and renewal. Groups are communicating and morale is good. We’ve built our ideal for a positive culture into daily interactions and what we expected is true – if we have a good culture, people will be engaged.”

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Beth Ridley is a former corporate executive turned organizational transformation consultant, speaker and author. Beth combines 25 years of global leadership and management consulting experience with expertise in diversity and inclusion and positive psychology to partner with leaders to transform workplace cultures to better achieve their vision and goals. Beth’s work is featured in national publications and she frequently delivers keynotes and workshops at events around the world. Beth lives with her husband and three children in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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