The Importance of Positive Workplace Culture

Are your Employees Falling off the Cliff into the Land of Attrition? The Importance of Positive Workplace Culture

Read Time: 4 minutes

Type into google “how to improve employee experience”.

We guarantee you that there will be hundreds of articles floating about that suggest making material improvements to your workspace. They may say that free breakfasts and pool tables go a long way, but they are mistaken.

These improvements may address some surface-level cultural shortcomings; however, they will not change the fundamental anatomy of your workplace.

Our research has shown that employee attrition is not whether you are able to get your people back into the office. It’s actually about whether you truly understand what might be holding them back in achieving the outcomes they require in their role to feel like they are making a valuable contribution to their career, your customers, and your organisation.

Believe it or not, it only takes 4 steps to go from dissatisfied employees to raving fans.

Let's dive in.

The challenge: Attrition

Proto was scrolling through LinkedIn this week and came across a provocative post by Melissa Grabiner which sums up the challenge of employee retention perfectly:

reduce your staff attrition

We see this all too often.

Businesses are investing serious money into hiring new recruits. It’s a popular topic among senior leaders in organisations small and large.

What do we mean by a toxic workplace culture?

To make the matter more difficult, the workplace that we all knew 3 years ago no longer exists. Employees no longer come into the workplace between 9 and 5, Monday to Friday. The post-COVID workplace is complex. There are some people in the office, some at home, some overseas, some who are a combination of all 3. The last three years has added enormous complexity in the way organisations are having to deal with their employees.

Toxicity in contemporary terms incorporates these notions of complexity and confusion.

As our employees are storming ahead into the future of flexible workspaces, our People and Culture departments are struggling to keep up. In fact, it’s no longer just a P&C problem, it has also become an Operational one. It’s affecting how employees fundamentally undertake their job and ultimately, the customer experience at large.

Not only are businesses losing time and money having to continually hire new employees, but they are also losing revenue because grumpy employees are delivering a poor customer experience.

The Solution: Happy Workplace = Happy Employees

Happy employees are more likely to take an interest in their customers and invest in building a relationship with them. This means that customer needs and pain points are more likely to be addressed, resulting in:

Unfortunately, most leadership teams fail to create a positive and customer-centric workplace culture because they undervalue the everyday struggles of employees.

We found through hundreds of case studies that employees are more willing to accept less pay if it means they have:

You may be reading this and thinking "well yeah obviously, this is common sense". This may well be common sense, but most businesses still struggle to make actionable progress.

There is good news though! The requirements of employees are not a mystery, understanding how they feel about and ensuring your solution cater to the challenges in a way which aligns to your culture takes a little more work. Once you have clarity on that, those needs becomes a an easier problem to address.

We worked with an energy company who had hundreds of employees at both an offshore call centre and a local call centre. When an employee picked up a call, they had to navigate multiple systems to find the answer to the customer’s question. The time spent navigating the several platforms made the phone calls stilted and machine-like.

It was a clunky system, to say the least.

The inefficiency and lack of human engagement frustrated customers. The customers, especially when dealing with the offshore call centre, would start being rude, aggressive, and angry. The poor treatment caused a seriously high level of staff turnover. Who wants to be yelled at all day!

So this is what we did to reduce attrition:

The Execution: 4 Steps

Step 1: Map a Day-in-the-Life of your Employees

This is the most important step, as it sets the tone and focuses on everything else that follows. Much like mapping a customer’s journey, mapping the journey of an employee across one day allows leadership teams to understand the pain points, needs and satisfaction areas. You might need a few depending on how varied your roles are.

We mapped a day in the life of someone from the customer contact centre and what currently was their journey like and ideally what should it look like. This allowed us to have a base from which we could redesign the employee journey and ensure that they had a good employee experience.

The map revealed to us two main areas of concern:

  1. The navigation of multiple systems made it difficult to appear competent
  2. The 30-point QA evaluation matrix meant staff were trying to check that off instead of listening to customer's real concerns

Step 2: Review your Systems and Processes

Are your systems and processes designed to help or hinder employees? If they are hindering, then it's likely that employees are wasting time trying to work around them. This can lead to frustration, which then leads to a decrease in productivity and motivation.

There are a few things you can do to review your systems and processes:

  1. Get feedback from employees on what is and isn't working for them. This could be done through surveys, focus groups or even just informal conversations.
  2. Review your procedures and see if there are any areas where employees are spending time on things that add little to no value. For example, if there are too many signoffs required for a simple task, then this adds unnecessary time and frustration.

Back to our energy company story, the systems and evaluation processes were inefficient. The first thing we suggested to be done was consolidate the 10 systems into ideally 1.

The second thing that we recommended was reduce the 30-point checklist that needed to be evaluated on a quality score to 5 behaviours that needed to be modelled by staff. This meant that it was simpler for them to be evaluated and employees knew what they needed to demonstrate on phone calls.

The main benefit of doing so was that employees could be more human and less like a machine. Rather than worry about navigating several systems and crossing off a 30-point checklist they could maintain a greater focus on helping customers solve their problems.

Step 3: Design the Ideal Employee Journey

How many organisations have an employee journey map? If, as most people say, employees are businesses’ greatest assets, why haven't we invested in maximising their performance by designing the outcomes, not leaving it to chance?

There are a few things you can do to design the ideal employee experience:

  1. Analyse the journey you mapped in step 1.
  2. Look at the key moments of truth for your team members and design those experiences so that they add value to the team member, the customer, and the organisation.
  3. Visualise it so you easily communicate it to your team and correct it if you get off track.

Step 4: Offer Training and Development Opportunities

Though steps 1-3 create a positive workplace culture, attrition can still an issue. Employees want to feel like they are progressing in their careers. If they feel stuck, then it is only natural that they will start to look for other opportunities. This can lead to a high rate of turnover, which is expensive and disruptive for businesses.

You can extend the Ideal Employee Experience to include these opportunities. Here’s how:

  1. Build into your Ideal Journey the process for employees to take on new challenges and responsibilities.
  2. Involve employees in co-designing the solutions to make their work life easier and achieve more positive outcomes.
  3. Set up feedback loops that sit outside just the People and Culture department. These issues are more than domain of Operations than a traditional HR lens.

One useful thing that we did was model a year-in-the-life of an employee. This forced leaders to confront questions like; how can we actually develop employees, train them, support them over the year to ensure they have a great employee experience?

It was totally transformational.

The only thing that stands between retaining your employees and improving your culture is only one employee journey. Try it, it will pay enormous dividends.


Attrition will always be a part of business, but you can minimise the number of high value employees falling off that cliff.

See you next week.

Whenever you are ready, there are three ways we can help you:

  1. If you're still looking for traction in improving your CX and EX in your business, I'd recommend starting with our free Resources page:
  2. You can learn more about how we can support you directly by visiting our Proto website.
  3. Join our online community and access step-by-step guides, gain ideas from other members who have the same challenges as you and attend live Ask the Expert sessions.

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