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How Much to Invest in Culture and Retention

How Much to Invest in Culture and Retention

zip-liningWork - any work - is rarely a cakewalk.

At Kinesis, it can sometimes feel like we're inventing the wheel each and every day. And we're by no means unique - increasingly, "easy" labor has been shifted offshore or automated by software to eliminate repetitive tasks. These days, just about any modern workplace can be deemed “difficult.”

So, if the work itself is bound to be challenging - sometimes even stressful – the question then becomes: How do you get the most out of your team, foster employee happiness (aka engagement), recruit new talent, and continue to grow?

You do it, in a word, Together.

Hold up.

Right about now, some of you are worried I'm advocating a corporate Kumbaya. Fear not; authentic "Togetherness," isn’t just for the feel-goods – it actually takes work. It requires investments of money, time, and energy... in other words, real commitment. But if you are willing to make those investments - when you're willing to walk the talk - the results can be nothing short of amazing.


But don't just take my word for it. Instead, check out the results of the peer reviewed research project at Stanford that sought to quantify the impact of fostering "Togetherness."

In the project, two groups of participants worked on difficult puzzles. One group was told they were to work entirely on their own – while the other was told they would be working on their task "together" and could receive a tip from a team member.

The results for the participants who heard "Together" were remarkable (I've added my own business observations in parenthesis). Study participants:

  • worked 48 percent longer (engagement with the work);
  • solved more problems correctly (quality control);
  • had better recall for what they had seen (invested in outcomes);
  • said that they felt less tired and depleted by the task (reduced stress);
  • reported finding the puzzle more interesting (more engagement).

...All of those positive outcomes came from working together.

And this type of result extends beyond the cardboard corners of a jigsaw puzzle. I can personally attest to the effects of investing in Together in the workplace. Togetherness at Kinesis takes all sorts of shapes and sizes – our desks are arranged in an open workspace to foster collaboration; we embrace a team-based lateral organizational chart; and we start each day with an energetic company huddle. As a result, our teams collaborate with our clients to take Togetherness to the next level. They bend over backwards to deliver exceptional service.

But, Togetherness is bigger than just the workday. Fostering a strong sense of shared commitment means significant investments in company off-sites, company-paid volunteer efforts (like Habitat for Humanity's Team Build), and enlisting the help of outside experts to grow our skills and business acumen. It means more than just buying the occasional office birthday cake. It means spending real money, time, and energy on your company's most valuable asset – your people.


Ever since we reset the Kinesis business model in 2010, I've seen the effects of investing in Togetherness. Certainly firsthand with the growth of our company, but also with the clients we consult. I've watched our customers shift their businesses from a source of frustration and financial stress to a place of joy and wealth creation. Heck, that's my story, too.

When you support people, they become happier and more engaged. Engaged employees are more productive and motivated – they produce higher quality work, take fewer sick days, and stay with your company longer. The bottom line is undeniable – engaged employees mean more profitable, better performing companies. Here are some eye-opening statistics:

  • Employee engagement investments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year. (Source: Workplace Research Foundation)
  • Companies with engaged employees, outperform those without by 202%. (Source: Business 2 Community)
  • Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged (Source: Cvent)
  • Higher workplace engagement leads to 37% lower absenteeism, 41% fewer safety incidents, and 41% fewer quality defects (Gallup)

So if you’re wondering how much your company should invest in its people, culture, and team building, the answer is: As much as you possibly can.

Interested in building an engaged company culture full of A-Players? Learn more about Marketing From the Inside Out®.

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By Shawn Busse & Wendy Maynard

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