Creating a Culture Where People Can Thrive

I’ve been busy wrapping up some of my last customer meetings of the year, and before I unplug and spend some good quality time with family and friends for the holidays, I thought I’d reflect on some themes that emerged over the past few weeks.

Labor challenges continue to impact just about everyone I speak with. Turnover and retention rates are an issue—not just on the shop floor, but across sales teams and the upper levels of organizations everywhere. I touched on this in my last post and about why investing in training opportunities can be a good way to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to employees’ success. Because it’s not just about the skill sets employees can learn from training—it’s about creating a culture where your people can thrive.

Culture is important. And after some of the conversations I’ve had over the last week or so, I’m convinced it’s one of the most important qualities that can help any kind of organization retain talent and, of course, attract new talent.

I’m not alone in thinking so. Run a search and you’ll find dozens of articles detailing why a strong workplace culture can drive up engagement and retention, employee happiness and satisfaction, and employee performance. And while “culture” can feel a bit intangible or hard to define, there are a lot of tactical best practices that can contribute to how management is organized. How performance goals are set, for example. Your organization’s mission, vision and values. Benefits packages. Your dress code. Even the smallest things can have an outsized influence on people’s experience working for your company.

While there’s no true magic bullet in creating a positive culture, these are some of the things you can control. Another important quality that I’ve discovered recently is the organization’s ability to get everyone on the same page, working toward a unified mission.

An example: I recently led a few workshops for customers, helping to educate their employees on the performance attributes of our products and their contribution to their commercial insulating glass/window systems. This wasn’t just with the sales team—it was with employees from every level of the organization. For this customer, it was important that everyone was educated about and could communicate the performance benefits of their own end products.

I think the results of an effort like this are two-pronged. First, it’s important that your employees can speak intelligently about your products—no matter who they are. But secondly, it becomes a way to unite your employees and to make everyone feel like they’re playing for the same team. It helps everyone believe in their own contributions to the organization’s success and that they’re important to your organization. And that kind of unity can be a critical part of your overall culture.

These are some things worth considering as we move forward into 2020—not just a new year, but a new decade for our industry. I remain a strong believer that the glass industry’s best days are ahead of us, and whether you’re a glazier or glass manufacturer, creating strong teams full of good people will be how we get there.

Joe Erb is commercial sales specialist at Quanex Building Products.