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Poor company cultures could trigger brain drain in Barbadian firms, survey finds

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Barbadian firms with poor company cultures may face a “brain drain” if their employees are wooed by competitors with better work environments, a recent survey has found.

The survey was conducted to uncover the views of Barbadian employees and employers on a range of brand-related topics, including organisational culture, salary and benefits, training opportunities and internal communications, said a news release from Blue Print Creative Group, one of Barbados' leading strategic branding agencies.

The survey, contained in a report entitled, 'The Employee View of the Employer Brand', was conducted by Antilles Economics, an insights consulting firm, and Blueprint Creative.

“Results coming out of the research project suggest that the majority of Barbadians are willing to change jobs based on their potential employer's culture. In fact, two out of three persons (66.9 per cent) who participated in the survey indicated that they would leave their current job for the same salary if they had the opportunity to work in an organisation with a better culture. A third of the respondents (32.9 per cent) indicated that they would leave their current job for a lower salary if they had the opportunity to work in an organisation with a better culture,” the news release stated.

“This trend of employees willing to switch jobs and 'trade up' for better work environments could easily lead to an exodus of skilled workers away from companies with poor cultures and towards companies with positive environments,” the release said. “These results point to a sobering reality for companies with poor company cultures that, in the long run, will likely face challenges in retaining skilled employees.”

According to the report, the news for companies with poor cultures is even more grim when the difficulties these organisations may face in trying to attract new talent to join their teams are taken into consideration.

“When participants of the survey were asked if they would leave their current job to work for an employer with a poor corporate culture, 80.4 per cent responded that they wouldn't. When asked if they would work for an employer with a poor corporate culture if they could earn a higher salary, only 19.6 per cent responded in the affirmative,” the researchers stated.

“However, that willingness to change jobs comes with a hefty price tag. Of those who were willing to leave their current jobs and move to a company with a poor culture, 30.9 per cent would require a pay increase of at least 10 per cent, 45.7 per cent of respondents indicated that they would need, at a minimum, a 25 per cent increase, while 16.0 per cent indicated that they would need a pay increase of more than 25 per cent to leave their current job to work for an employer with a poor corporate culture.

“In short, 92.6 per cent would need a salary increase of at least 10 per cent to work for an employer with a poor corporate culture,” the researchers added.

Collectively, these results point to what representatives from Antilles Economics and Blueprint Creative refer to as a “culture tax”, which workers impose on companies with poor cultures. For these organisations with poor working environments, this “tax” has the potential to increase hiring and retention costs.

The news release stated that the results of the survey should cause entrepreneurs, business owners and management teams to pause and take stock of their company cultures, as the effects of a potential brain drain combined with the “culture tax” could be extremely detrimental to companies with poor cultures.

“Over time, organisations with poor cultures are likely to experience gradual decreases in the quality of their products and services as their industry's 'best and brightest' workers are snapped up by competitors, leaving a pool of less qualified, less talented and less experienced job seekers for organisations with poor cultures to choose from,” the release noted.

The researchers noted that while there is a tendency for some business leaders to view company culture as a “soft” factor when it comes to competitiveness, the results of the survey show that there are tangible financial consequences for having poor working environments.