Culture, Retention and Sport

There is a need for a new focus on culture, retention and trust

There are simple answers available.

There have been a large amount of reports that have emerged in recent times that have highlighted the decline in trust by employees in leadership and institutions. Our belief is that this a genuine problem as strong culture creates trust between colleagues which in turn influences personal development, customer service levels and retention. Employees will go the extra mile in both service and in work for a company that they trust.

Disney is maybe one of the best examples of this as their service ethos was based off going the extra mile to enhance the experience and service levels. To ensure this happened, they created strong processes for internal comms so that all levels of employees understood the goals and objectives of the company and felt that they had a voice.

High trust will increase both sales, increase productivity, customer satisfaction and the retention of talent which can amount to between six and seven figure levels that is potentially lost each year. Our goal to reduce this and create change.

We have started to work closely with sports players who –in combination with our own skills – can create a process that will support a change process as they believe and live by a set of values that are being sought for by employees.

They will talk in almost old fashioned terms – about honour, friendship, care for your fellow, belief in a common vision, and trust in your leadership and in each other and commitment to the cause. These are the same traits that many will argue have been eroded – often unintentionally – in the workplace and at board level. However they are the traits that most employees aspire their businesses to possess and to stand for.

As for EP’s own skills, they lie in communications and objectivity and this can support the above as also very important. Our belief is that both constant communications to all levels plus allowing all levels to have a voice creates stronger cultures.

All research stats into the business world are painting a picture of a silo and lonely culture; one that is not at ease with itself and struggling with the modern pace of life.

  • 1:4 employees today suffering from mental illness
  • 1:10 suffering from depression
  • A reputed extra 1m people in the UK should be prescribed antidepressants
  • 63% of people do not trust leadership across the world. In the UK this can possibly rise to only 1:5 trusting their leaders
  • The rise of the gig economy which estimates between 40-50% of the workforce will be working on a freelance basis by 2022 across the developed world.
  • 40% of all employees across the globe are looking at new positions at any one time.

These are global issues and not simply in the UK.

There is work to be done and change is needed. It is not acceptable to simply sit and wait for others to create new answers. Whether one agrees with the above stats or not, it is the responsibility of all leaders to try and build greater trust in the workplace and also a culture that fuels productivity and teamwork.

It, therefore, is a logical step to note that former sporting players could play a very valuable role alongside boards with a focus on culture and on retention. Retention is still one of the most important issues in business and the cost of employing a former sports player would easily be covered by retaining great talent. It would pay for itself and add an extra dimension to every business and provide a new set of eyes for the CEO to view the business.

There are lessons to be learnt from sport that do believe and work to trust between colleagues, open communications and learning.

This is something that EP is championing as we believe it could be so important to businesses in all markets and make a real difference.

Sporting players highlight how they were given the freedom to make decisions, to be accountable but responsible. They also talked fondly of their teams and friendships and how they would work for one another.

It has also been noted that comms in sport have far more advanced and honest – both ways; from coaches to players and vice versa – than in business. Comms is a crucial part of this equation. It was noted by one that:

“Maybe one of the differences is that sport is brutal. Work is far less so. In Sport, we would tell the truth to each other in an almost ruthless manner as we were focused on an end result – on winning. Those ruthless conversations – that honesty – built trust in each other and we would be there for each other. We were a team”.

Another noted; “Maybe one of the hardest things adapting to the workplace is learning that not everyone is honest and tells the truth. We all talk honesty as a given in sport, but the workplace can be less clear and this creates barriers and tensions. This is where strong leadership can be as important as these tensions are very rarely helpful to anyone achieving the end result.”

At a recent industry Think Tank we hosted one of the comments made by a senior figure was that the focus needs to be almost more on retention of talent than on bemoaning the challenge of future recruitment. Retention and recruitment do go together and the real linking factor is culture. Culture is often set by the board and again we will argue that having someone working alongside the board who really understands the importance of trust, communication, honour, honesty and care is invaluable. As one Rugby player noted: “When I go out to play I am ready to put my body on the line for my colleague and he will do the same. If they don’t, one of us could be badly hurt.”

There is so much business can learn from sport in this modern era – and if we can bring lessons from sport and implement into culture and retention of talent, then it will more than pay for itself and may well even help raise the enjoyment factor in the workplace which is intense at the best of times.

So what practical steps can be taken?

The key focus is to create a process that establishes openness, trust and friendship

  • Boards do need to build trust again with their teams and this comes from stronger internal comms and an active process that does interact with teams
  • To create a strong value set that the company stands for and behaves consistently with.
  • There needs to be internal comms that also gives a voice for all levels to communicate back to leadership.
  • Close mentoring and working with teams to create belief and trust in the team and each other.
  • Social time together for the team – not as a nice to do – but for the team to do work with the wider community as this then generates trust with the community and repays itself with increased trust in the business, loyalty and sales.
  • A recruitment process that recruits on talent and on attitude along with qualifications. To create a proactive, embracing process that looks at all talent pools from the highly qualified to the disabled who can play roles.

Our belief is that increased openness, internal comms and trust = increased productivity, retention and sales.

This does not need a full time role but it requires a strong internal process that is consistent and open. One can argue that the company can do this themselves bar:

  • The research tells us this has not been happening despite all that is said
  • An independent person that works with both the board and the teams can bridge the gaps and monitor (objectivity) how change is taking place.
  • An independent person can often be trusted whilst a line manager will not be.

And the result? We believe this will create greater sales, retention of talent and higher customer loyalty.

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