Key focus areas for CEOs

Retaining and engaging employees

According to the Lattice State of People Strategy Report, 60% of CEOs have emphasized the need to retain and engage their workforce – highlighting the widespread recognition of the direct link between employee engagement and organizational success. Engaged employees often exhibit higher productivity, better customer service, and lower turnover rates, which are key for sustaining competitive advantage.

Recruiting and training

Another major focus for 35% of CEOs lies in recruiting and training employees – a priority reflecting the challenges organizations face in filling skill gaps amid rapidly changing industry demands. Training equips employees with necessary skills and aids in engagement and retention strategies by showing investment in employees’ professional growth.

Major challenges for CEOs

Retention and engagement issues

With 41% of CEOs identifying retention and engagement as a top concern, it’s evident that companies struggle to maintain a committed workforce. Challenges in these areas can stem from factors including inadequate recognition, insufficient career development opportunities, and a lack of alignment with organizational values.

Recruitment difficulties

Filling open positions remains a core challenge for 40% of CEOs. Difficulties in recruiting can be attributed to a mismatch between the available talent pool and the specific skill sets companies require. Rapidly changing technological and business environments further complicate this issue, innovative recruitment strategies to attract the right candidates.

State of the workforce in 2024

Engagement Levels

Currently, only 30% of U.S. employees feel engaged at work, the lowest level of engagement in over a decade. Low engagement rate signals a need for organizations to re-evaluate their employee interaction strategies and workplace environments. Engaged employees typically display a higher level of commitment and productivity, which contributes to organizational success.

Turnover expectations

About 33% of U.S. hiring managers expect an increase in turnover this year, highlighting concerns about employee retention across industries. An increase in turnover can lead to major costs for companies, including lost productivity and increased recruitment and training expenses. Addressing the root causes of employee dissatisfaction is key to mitigate these turnover rates.

Job satisfaction

Only 25% of U.S. workers report being very satisfied with their jobs, hinting at broader discontent in the workplace. Factors contributing to this dissatisfaction may include lack of advancement opportunities, insufficient compensation, poor management practices, and an unsupportive work environment. Companies must address these issues to improve job satisfaction and retain talent.

The role of senior leaders in cultivating workplace culture

Non-delegable responsibility

Senior leaders hold the primary responsibility for setting the tone and standards of the organizational culture. They actively define what the ideal culture looks like and directly engage in the steps required to cultivate this environment. As culture stems from the top, leaders’ commitment to fostering an inclusive, respectful, and validating environment is non-negotiable. They set strategic goals and make sure that the culture aligns with these objectives, driving the organization forward.

Accountability measures

Leaders establish accountability by setting clear expectations for behavior and performance that support the desired culture. They need to enforce these standards consistently across all levels of the organization. Ensuring accountability involves regular assessments of how well individuals and teams uphold the values of respect and validation, and addressing discrepancies swiftly and constructively. Leaders must communicate these expectations clearly and provide the necessary resources for their teams to achieve these standards.

Practical steps for cultural change

Modeling and mentoring

Leaders must demonstrate the behaviors they expect to see in their employees. Through consistent modeling of positive interactions and constructive feedback, they serve as role models for their teams. 

Mentoring involves guiding employees in their current roles and in developing their potential and aligning their career goals with the organization’s objectives. Mentoring – when done effectively – supports the cultivation of a strong, cohesive culture by embedding the organization’s values into everyday practices and interactions.

Building the ideal culture

Creating the ideal work culture is a comprehensive project that spans 18 to 24 months. This process involves continuous efforts in aligning, refining, and reinforcing cultural expectations. During this period, leaders must stay engaged with the process, gather feedback, and make iterative adjustments so that the culture remains relevant and supportive of the organization’s evolving goals and challenges.

Maintaining culture

Once established, the desired culture requires ongoing dedication and monitoring to sustain. Leaders must commit to regular evaluations and refinements of cultural practices. Monthly attention from senior leaders makes sure that the organization maintains its focus on cultural alignment and adapts to new challenges or changes in the external environment. Sustaining an effective culture demands persistent leadership attention to employee behaviors, engagement levels, and the overall health of the workplace environment.

Tim Boesen

April 25, 2024

4 Min