What are the attributes that encourage people to choose one employer over another when they want to change jobs? What are the defining factors that persuade talented people to stay with their current employer?

These are some of the questions that keep employers awake at night — the worry that key talented employees will leave and take important skills and knowledge with them.

But employers can take steps that will encourage key talent to join their organisation, to stay and prosper.

The employee’s workplace experience is made up of many encounters with the real organisation, which is defined by the daily encounters with the company that employees and customers experience as opposed to the publically reported organisation on websites, in publications, corporate collaterals and organisational communications.

It is the distance between the culture in action, the daily employee experience, the espoused culture and the official corporate publicised culture that determines the employee experience, positive or negative.

Espoused organisational culture is a major influence in encouraging people to join an organisation. It is presented to the public through corporate websites, advertising, presentations, and documents. There are various approaches that organisations take to present their culture — from completely unplanned to highly planned strategies.

Positive, high-performance organisational cultures where the espoused culture and culture in action are closely aligned play an important role in an organisation’s talent management success.

Corporate culture must be alive. It must establish a clear message of what the culture is like and various ways of encouraging people to engage in that culture. It is extremely important that behavioural alignment with the corporate culture is maintained throughout the organisation at all levels.

Alignment determines how the people in the organisation will engage with the culture. No alignment and no consequences for failure to align with the culture will lead to total employee disengagement.

Effectively, corporate culture statements and strategies are a complete waste. However, total alignment encourages full engagement with the corporate culture and the corporation’s direction and aspirations. 

To build high-performance organisational cultures that are self-sustaining, corporations need to focus at the workplace or micro-level. Why? Because companies may impose values and vision and culture statements on the organisation but it is the micro-culture or the behaviour, beliefs and values of people in each workplace and how they are managed and led that determine the experience of employees.

Corporate culture is not a group or organisational experience. Individuals experience it in their daily work, and discuss it among themselves as they comment, complain and even criticise their company and its leaders — and it is a major, personal decision-making criterion when people decide to stay or leave, cooperate or not cooperate with their employer.

Throughout their employment with an organisation, employees experience the company’s managerial practices where promises are often made and employees form general expectations of their future.

It is the company and its senior representatives’ personal behaviour and delivery on those promises that further influence the employees’ impressions of the organisation and the potential for the existence of counter cultures.

Creating a high performance organisational environment is more than implementing a well-developed corporate strategy. It is not a single process. It is a system of multiple processes that work in harmony to create an environment in which engaged employees deliver excellence in human performance which then drives exceptional organisational performance.

Research has suggested that organisations that implement effective performance management systems are likely to perform at a higher level in financial terms.

Furthermore, studies indicate that success in managing performance depends largely on organisational philosophies, corporate culture, and attitudes and skills of the personnel responsible for the performance systems.

High performance is delivered when employers ensure that all organisational and human processes are aligned, staff are working with shared values and towards common goals, and real opportunities are provided to encourage them to be fully engaged in their work.

When these conditions are achieved, the corporate effort is coordinated and high performance is realised. Then, you are well on the way to creating an incredible workplace and becoming an employer of choice.