Talent | April 17, 2023

Creating a solid talent culture that boosts retention

Talent shortages have beset the technology industry for years now, and we only see them worsening as time passes. Since this problem is not likely to go away any time soon, companies must shift their focus and try to solve another huge challenge: how to retain talent.

According to Forbes, third-party service providers’ average turnover rate post-pandemic is around 23%. While this number may vary from company to company, not actively investing in people & culture may cost you a great deal. 

In this article, we will explore the crucial elements of establishing a solid organizational culture and examine its impact on employee satisfaction, which directly impacts staff retention. We will also reflect on our own experience creating a work culture and how we overcame numerous challenges along the way. 

The importance of an earnest talent culture

We can all agree that wages are of core importance for employees, even more so when trying to keep up with general inflation rates. However, when it comes to deciding whether to stay or leave a company, there’s always a higher motivation.

It’s been proven that working in a comfortable environment with a friendly and inviting culture and a sense of community is the x-factor for choosing a workplace. Having a safe haven where you can go and spend time with your coworkers has become a necessity, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns were challenging for many, and that time of isolation reinforced the urge to be physically there with your people, sharing experiences over a cup of coffee.

Another key element of an earnest work culture is achieving and maintaining a good work-life balance. It promotes employee well-being and reduces the risk of burnout, stress, and other mental and physical health issues. 

Psychological safety in the workplace has become imperative. It refers to a workplace culture that supports communication, trust, and mutual respect, encouraging diverse and inclusive ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Investing and redefining candor builds up a shared belief in taking risks, seeking improvement, and admitting mistakes without fearing retaliation. 

Creating a positive culture will reflect not only in employee well-being but also in improved organizational outcomes. It goes without saying that employees who are healthy and happy are more likely to be productive and engaged in their work. 

Creating a solid talent approach

This will vary from company to company,  but it’s all about creating a good employee experience. For this subject, we’ll speak from our own experience at Patagonian. 

We define culture as the values, daily practices, and activities that define us as a team. We focus on a people-centric culture, with personal and professional development at the front. 

How do we do it? Our primary focus is building an environment where everyone is comfortable and happy to spend time together,  not limited to after-offices and special events—though we do have plenty of those. We have created a series of initiatives to make employees feel welcome at the company from day one. 

For example, we can mention the “patadrinos” (a portmanteau of Patagonian and godparents) peer mentoring program. The goal behind it is to assign a patagonian who represents our values to every new company member, to make them feel welcome and learn the company culture from their peers.  Additionally, we allocate a separate budget for each new member to equip their workplaces in case they work remotely.  

We have also created the “People partner” role.  This HR representative’s duty is to closely follow up with our talent, be aware of their needs, handle employee complaints and concerns, and look out for their general well-being at the company. 

Patagonian talent culture in numbers
Patagonian talent culture in numbers

Being inclusive and diverse goes beyond words 

Achieving a diverse and inclusive culture requires a concerted effort and sustained commitment over time.  Our team guarantees assistance and resources for every employee to help them succeed. This involves training and career development opportunities, flexible work arrangements, and support for specific backgrounds and needs. 

Ensuring that diversity and inclusion are more than mere statements is crucial for measuring and keeping track of progress. We have implemented a series of workplace surveys to closely monitor important issues, such as our Women in STEM. In this survey, our female talent was asked to provide feedback on subjects like inclusive culture, what they would improve, and ideas about how to incorporate more diversity into our offices. 

In 2023 we are launching a new Patagonian NEST, our talent incubator program, this time focused on female talent. This will open the opportunity for new talent to take their first steps in the industry and gain real working experience. 

About maintaining the essence of a small outfit

Being close to your employees seems easy peasy when the company is the size of a start-up. But how about when you start growing? Well, this is the eternal dilemma of HR professionals. Proximity gets trickier and might seem even impossible when talent is geographically distributed. 

However, we have implemented numerous initiatives that have proven successful for our teams, and we recommend giving them a try.

Close contact: Make sure everyone at the company has frequent contact with their peers, leaders, and HR reps. At Patagonian, the People Partners are in charge of keeping close communication with each employee. Also, each engineer must have a call with their Product Manager, Tech Leader, or team leader at least once every two weeks.  We make sure that even our remote workers from the jungle in Misiones, Argentina, receive special presents to make them feel close regardless of the distance. 

Recognition programs: In the last few months, we launched a new recognition system that has been enthusiastically welcomed. Each employee has a monthly total of ten “recognition credits” to share with anyone at the company who practices our values (curiosity, flexibility, passion, integrity, innovation, teamwork, determination) in their daily activities. 

Open-door policy: Our culture is relaxed, and our open-door policy is not a mere statement. Anyone at the company can get directly in touch with the C-level and management in general. Fostering a culture where everyone feels free to speak their mind and create bonds throughout the organizational chart will help develop a sense of belonging and family. And that is what we have accomplished at Patagonian.

Exclusive benefits: Additionally, we have created many benefits that show our commitment to our employee’s well-being. 

  • Company loans with a 0% interest rate. These credits have helped many employees build or finish their houses or pay for vacations that otherwise would have been impossible to finance. 
  • “Work from anywhere” has become one of our most popular benefits. When many companies are forcing their workers to return to the office, we offer them the opportunity to choose whether to stay home or work from our offices. 
  • “Workation” provides the opportunity of traveling and experiencing the local culture of any of our offices. Our employees can request this benefit once a year, and Patagonian will cover their travel and housing expenses for a week in the location they choose. 
  • Cultural trips to visit Patagonian offices in other countries.
  • Birthday day off.
  • Patagonian Living is a program that supports our employees when they want to relocate. We help them pay the moving expenses and also with the logistics. 
  • Patagonian week, an extra vacation week after their first company anniversary.
  • We cover their internet expenses, ensuring they access best-in-class connectivity to work remotely without setbacks.  
  • Time flexibility guided by a results-oriented mindset.
  • Medical health insurance for the employee’s family group. 
  • Gym and prescription eyeglasses reimbursement.
  • Individual budget for training according to seniority.

The direct relation between talent culture and performance

A person that feels comfortable, happy, accomplished, and intrinsically motivated to work in a company reflects this satisfaction in their performance. At Patagonian, we launch bi-annual satisfaction surveys, and we can see that 100% of the positive responses come from people that also perform outstandingly in their jobs.  

Patagonian talent culture: performance review
Patagonian talent culture: performance review

Feedback is always welcomed and appreciated as well. It helps us improve and find new ways of connecting with our employees. 

We hope this article can shed some light on finding new ways to support your employees while building a  solid work culture. We still have plenty of room for improvement! Nonetheless, we are profoundly proud of what we have accomplished so far, and our biggest honor is knowing that our employees choose us each day as their second family.  

By Mercedes Jauregui

Mer has been Patagonian’s HR Manager for two years now. She’s the main advocate of Patagonian’s culture and strives to make everyone feel like an essential part of the company. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, mountain biking, and spending time with her loving family.

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