How to develop a connected culture to attract and retain talent

By: Tim Schieffer
happy employees who are part of a connected culture

The employee experience is broad, capturing the journey from job seeker to new hire to tenured employee. Given the employee journey’s ability to transcend a set timeframe, industry or employee demographic, it’s up to organizational leaders to make the journey feel driven by corporate goals and tailored to team members. 

Organizations can elevate their current employee experience programs by leaning into a connected culture approach. With a connected culture, interactions between the company, executives, team and team members become more purposeful—and more likely to thrive.

Webinar: Improve Your Employee Experience With a Connected Culture

Defining connected culture 

A connected culture is a need-to-have for organizations that want to attract and retain talent. At a glance, here’s what you need to know.

What connected culture is

A corporate-wide approach that focuses on organizational alignment, a well-established culture, an appealing employer brand and strong leadership development.

Why it matters

Effective development and implementation of a truly connected culture keeps good team members and attracts new ones while also improving organizational outcomes. 

How it impacts employees

Connection helps employees feel valued and appreciated, spurring them to become brand advocates. Individuals who feel connected with their employer care more deeply about the work they’re doing and are more successful in achieving the outcomes that matter to them and the organization.

To maximize the value of a connected culture, organizations need to:

  • Ensure leadership alignment, consistency and support
  • Evolve and sustain employee experience efforts
  • Put connected culture programs into a reinforcement cycle

Building executive team alignment

Want to achieve a truly connected culture? Executive team alignment is critical. While it may sound obvious, if it were that simple, many organizations would already be operating with high employee engagement levels, maximum efficiency and desired profitability.

To create C-suite level alignment, your executive team must have powerful, authentic, robust and transparent conversations, like discussing:

  • Trajectory of influential organization decisions
  • Past misalignment that impacted communication or implementation of executive goals, and how it affected the organization, results and, potentially, customers
  • How the team should (and will) work better together to communicate and remain aligned moving forward 

There’s no one right way for executive teams to stay aligned. Here are a few ideas:

  • Dedicated off-site strategic planning session
  • Retreat-style get-together focused on teambuilding and breaking down barriers
  • Give-back group opportunity to support an altruistic effort of serving the greater good
  • Tailored experiential learning session focused on team dynamics and discovering insights

The bottom line: Executive teams need to reflect on what strategy is right for their organization and what is going to truly foster alignment. 

Creating a connected culture

While most executive teams recognize the impact of change as it affects their area of business or discipline, the influence of a corporate-wide culture change is often less embraced—leaving better performance and increased profits on the table.

Organizations can’t realize the full potential of business transformation, or new ways of working, without supporting cultural change—seen in practice as organizational behaviors and norms.

A study by Boston Consulting Group reports that companies focused on culture and providing proper cultural support were five times more likely to achieve breakthrough results in their transformation initiatives than those that didn’t.

Want to be one of those companies? Recognize that culture change only happens with dedication. It’s challenging enough to change one’s own habits, let alone thousands of employees’. 

Once the executive team is aligned and has defined the desired culture state, there are some best practices to keep in mind as the culture changes are put into action:

  • Ensure executives are the face and voice of culture change
  • Involve critical stakeholders early and have them understand why change is necessary 
  • Engage team members and gather feedback
  • Build and communicate the culture road map
  • Reinforce and reward desired culture shifts within the organization

Related: Learn how to revitalize your employee recognition experience. 

Elevating employer branding 

The employer brand is your company’s reputation, and it plays a vital role in retaining team members and attracting new talent. It also impacts the retention and attraction of customers. Each audience that buys into your brand ultimately leads to increasing revenue and reducing expenses.

Here are the key players that support a successful employer brand.

Human resources

From finding and hiring talent to engaging employees and maintaining retention, this team is the “face” of employer branding.

C-suite executives

As busy as the C-suite might be, they’re critical supporters and faces of culture change and employer branding, even talent acquisition.


This team works hand in hand with HR to uphold employer branding, from crafting and delivering value messaging that resonates with team members to promoting the brand and culture during recruitment efforts. 

Brand advocates

As with any cultural transformation, there have to be influential team members who share corporate messaging and endorse the culture. Identify these players to strengthen recruiting messages and improve the company’s reputation and culture to attract more top talent. 

Being a part of an organization with a great work culture is uncompromisingly important to today’s job seekers, and companies need to be mindful of how they showcase that culture. If you have a solid employer brand, candidates will seek you out. When done well, strong culture and employer branding reduces recruitment costs and leads to a greater selection of top talent. 

Webinar: Improve Your Employee Experience With a Connected Culture

Implementing leadership training 

Having strong leaders in place is an important part of making a connected culture a reality, and organizations with strong “leadership maturity” are more likely to build better, more successful teams. Yet according to the 2021 Global Leadership Forecast report, only 11% of surveyed organizations report they have a “strong” or “very strong” leadership bench. Zippia research also shows that 77% of businesses report that leadership is lacking.

Organizations need strong leadership development solutions to maximize their investment in their people and culture. Continuing to improve and strengthen their leadership skills is also critical to inspire and motivate your workforce.

How do you do that effectively? Here’s a quick list of leadership development dos and don’ts from the Center for Creative Leadership.

Leadership development dos

  • Treat leadership development as a process
  • Incorporate best practices, data and personal stories into leadership learnings
  • Connect leadership learnings with on-the-job challenges 

Leadership development don’ts

  • Consider leadership development as a one-and-done event
  • Structure leadership learnings through a single approach
  • Launch leadership learnings without previous executive buy-in or input

Related: Discover the essential leadership skills to inspire better performances

Reinforcing a connected culture throughout your organization

A connected culture needs to be woven into every employee’s work journey in order to maximize their value and contribution. ITA Group helps employers implement a reinforcement engine to keep momentum with the good culture progress they’ve made.

Related: How to prove the ROI of recognition.

Culture is a force multiplier for the outcomes that matter most to you and your organization. When your culture is truly connected, and you consistently reinforce the culture, it becomes a powerful differentiator. 

Want more ideas on how to motivate your people and create a connected culture? Check out our webinar.

Webinar: Improve Your Employee Experience With a Connected Culture
Tim Schieffer
Tim Schieffer

Tim is the Employee Experience Insights and Strategy Leader for ITA Group. With 20+ years of experience serving clients in multiple industries, including e-commerce, communications and finance, he offers a unique perspective on how to attract and retain top talent. His passion for delivering personalized employee engagement strategies helps create cultures centered on empowering people. Outside of work, you'll find him cheering on the Green Bay Packers as a proud part-owner. Go Pack Go!