There’s a lot of talk nowadays about healthy workplace culture. The pandemic, health concerns, limited activities and additional family time have caused candidates to reevaluate their job search priorities. In a recent poll by Mark Hinderliter, a question was posed: “If you were in job search mode, what would be the No. 1 factor for the job you are looking for?” Fifty-three percent of the respondents said a healthy workplace culture was their No. 1 factor. That’s a stark contrast to what a lot of us might think would be the primary driving factors — pay, a great boss and a good fit with your skillset. In fact, only 11 percent of the respondents said that pay would be the No. 1 factor, only 15 percent said a great manager, and the remaining 21 percent said a job that fits their skillset.

Healthy workplace culture is clearly important. But how do you foster a healthy workplace culture to attract new hires and retain key employees? Here are four practices that will make an immediate and longterm impact.

  1. Reward team players and those who want to help others. Most companies already reward employees based on their performance. It’s important to celebrate wins that improve your company’s bottom line, but money shouldn’t always be the highest priority. Your top salesperson may be head and shoulders above the rest of the team as far as production, but if they aren’t sharing their knowledge and “win strategies” with others on the team, their impact to the overall success of the company is limited.

Look for those employees on your team whose words and actions are intended to help their teammates. When you see it, recognize the employee as soon as possible. Doing so will encourage collaborative and supportive relationships. This will lead to increased employee morale, longer tenures and improved customer service, all of which will positively impact your bottom line.

  1. When hiring, focus on the candidate’s fit with the team more than their credentials. When adding an employee to your team, focus on the intangibles first. What personality traits, skills and abilities do your top employees have? Your hiring practices should take experience and skillset into account, as well as workplace culture and fit. The best new hire for your company might not be the one who comes with the most extensive experience or impressive degrees, but rather the one who has the needed skillset and who communicates and fits best with the team.
  2. Encourage autonomy and provide flexibility. Focus on personal autonomy and provide as much flexibility as possible. This will look different for different businesses; for some businesses, employees can only do their job on-site; for others, remote work is a possibility. Some employers can provide flexible work hours to work around child care schedules, travel, etc., while others require a more structured timeframe.

Remote work arrangements during the peak of the pandemic gave employers the ability to offer flexibility to their employees. Many employees thrived working remotely and embraced the ability to work a more flexible schedule. Others found they really missed the interaction from being in the office. There’s no magic answer. The important thing is to determine what flexibility and personal autonomy you can offer, and then see what is going to be the best fit for each employee.

  1. As a manager, establish a true opendoor policy. To make a healthy workplace culture a priority and foster collaboration, you need to have a true open-door policy. This means being proactive — soliciting feedback and, if needed, acting on it quickly. It means being a good listener who is actively engaged. It means really getting to know your employees — what drives them, what they are interested in, how they spend their time outside the office, etc. This will enable you to connect on a more personal level, building those deeper relationships that foster trust, collaboration and a sense of belonging, all of which will enable you to develop a healthy workplace culture that attracts new hires and retains employees.

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