Weak Company Culture is Behind the Decline in Employee Loyalty

Weak Company Culture is Behind the Decline in Employee Loyalty

A new report released by TINY pulse, The 2019 Employee Engagement Report: The End of Employee Loyalty, shares the results of a poll of 25,000 employees from 20 different industries – there’s been a 20% increase in the number of workers who said they would leave their current job for a small pay increase, and that poor company culture is to blame. From only 23% in 2015 to 43% in 2019, this is a shocking number of people who are unhappy at work, with a marked decline in their loyalty as a result.

The report said that the three biggest factors that influenced the happiness of employees were:

●     Doing work that is engaging.

●     The relationships between employees and managers.

●     Their first impressions of a company.

Taking a look at the first point, it’s when employees are not being challenged regularly that they become bored, and this has a large effect on how happy they feel at work. Giving employees challenging and engaging work also gives them a sense of purpose, as well as the opportunity to feel pride and boost their self-esteem when they conquer these tasks. When you show your employees trust in their abilities by giving them harder work, you’re making them feel valued and, in turn, much happier with their position.

Managers who provide challenging work and foster the positive feelings that come from such work are also more likely to build positive employee-manager relationships, another big factor in whether an employee is happy or not.

As leaders, managers must be open, honest, vulnerable (to a point), approachable and know how to effectively communicate with their staff is they wish to keep them happy and loyal. When a team member feels comfortable talking to their manager about things that are bothering them instead of staying silent, they’re going to feel more comfortable and therefore, happier.

The last point is also very important; company culture has a major influence on the first impression an employee has of their new company, which affects how happy they are in the long-term as well. New employees must have a positive and effective experience during the onboarding process, which comes from strong company culture.

With the right people, culture, and values, you can accomplish great things. Tricia Griffith

A Robert Half survey conducted last year showed that, if a company’s culture was negative and didn’t fit with their own, a third of the employee respondents said they would turn down their ideal job. Company culture changes won’t occur overnight, but by analysing where your culture is currently, and where you want it to be, you will already be making a vast improvement to the culture of your company. Employees who see management working to make the necessary changes to improve the workplace atmosphere and provide them with opportunities to challenge themselves will be happier with their positions and stay with the company for years to come. 

LeadershipHQ is the Leaders in Cultural Transformation. We partner with Businesses and Organisations big or small to create and build high impact and meaningful Cultural Strategies. Reach out to us today at https://leadershiphq.com.au/

WHY CHANGE IS HARD – and how we can make it easier.

WHY CHANGE IS HARD – and how we can make it easier.

By Sonia McDonald LeadershipHQ 

Change is a constant factor in human history. What is distinctive now is the rate and scale of change. 

(Robinson 2001) 

Why do people find it so hard to change, or resist change even when it might be good for them?  

As leaders, we are constantly driving and facilitating change, yet research in this area has demonstrated that 70% of change initiatives fail! Why?  How can we make change easier and more successful?  

The neuroscience of change is an area I am passionate about and in this article I am going to share with you why understanding our brains is vital to managing and coping with change.  

Brains are wired for survival. 

Our brain functions as a survival tool by helping us avoid danger.  A part of the brain called the amygdala helps monitor our responses and tells us when to run from danger or towards safety.  It also tells us when to step towards a benefit or away from a threat. 

When change is happening around us in our society, relationships and workplaces, we can feel threatened and that activates our amygdala. We feel outside our comfort zones, triggering fear and anxiety.  

While this is good for our safety it does come at a cost.  When our brains are in safety mode, protecting us from a perceived threat, they cannot function well as problem solver or creativity generator.  In the workplace, the fear of change causes people to rely on tried and true routines, rather than create new strategies to move forward.  In effect, the brain shuts down the part that is really needed at that time. 

Basically the amygdala of your brain has been hijacked and this is not the best time to make an important decision.   

So whether you are a caveman running away from the threat of hungry dinosaurs or your boss has just informed you that there are going to be major changes to the department, your brains and bodies will continue to react with the same chemicals and hormones that we need to run away from physical danger.  Such is the effect of the threat of change at work. 

Now you see why 70% of change initiatives fail.   

By understanding how the brain works we can manage change resistance and develop strategies to maximise change potential. Additionally it gives us insights into how people learn, engage and remember as well as manage emotions. 

Brains are lazy. 

Considering that our brains weigh around 1.5 kilograms and absorb around 20% of our body’s energy, our brains are energy efficient and actually pretty lazy. Our brains prefer comfy habits as they require a lot less energy. They don’t really like to learn new habits or ways of doing things as this takes effort!  

The design of the brain is not always helpful.  The part of the brain which is responsible for thinking and high order processing (the pre-frontal cortex) requires a lot more energy to function than does the part of the brain which deals with emotion (limbic system).   That means it’s a lot harder for us to cope with change than to return to our tried and true habits. 

How can we break habits and form new ones? In his book “The Brain That Changes Itself” Dr. Norman Doidge tells us that the brain can be changed by our thoughts and actions.  They physically alter the structure of the brain itself, which in turn changes the way it functions.  This is the most important breakthrough in neuroscience in four centuries. 

This ability of our brain to change and make new connections, re-wire itself and even grow new brain cells as a result of experience is called “neuroplasticity”. Change is about forming new wiring, habits and behaviours. Yes, we can teach an old dog new tricks! 

How can we harness neuroplasticity of change? By tapping into the emotions…  

Brains are affected by emotion. 

We know that often our behaviour is controlled by emotion rather than common sense.  What that tells us is that the limbic system in the brain has some control over the information that is passed onto the cortex, which controls our decision making system. 

In other words, our thoughts and actions are coloured or skewed by the emotion that we are feeling.  You’ve heard of rose-coloured glasses, the phenomenon that makes certain things look better than they really are.  That’s an example of the limbic system influencing our beliefs and perceptions. 

When people are afraid, as they usually are at the thought of change, our limbic systems colour our perceptions with threat and fear.  People only see the negative side of change because that is all their brain permits.   If the change is brought about for positive reasons then people will accept it and be ready to involve themselves in making change happen.   

Making the brain work for you. 

So, we know that our brains are wired for survival, that they are lazy and will take the easiest thought out of there, and that every thought is coloured by emotion. We also know that actions and thoughts can change the physical structure of the brain. 

How can we use that knowledge to make the brain lead us towards supporting change rather than running away from it? 

There are two key solutions.   

First you can use neuroplasticity to your advantage and provide opportunities for people to develop new thoughts, and practice new actions and behaviours, thereby rewiring the brain.   

Second, you can make the limbic system work for you by creating positives around change especially to reinforce behaviour and thought changes. 

We need to build organisational change systems that capture the important role of emotions in determining behaviour, particularly in the contexts of engagement, resistance, cooperation, and commitment.  What that means in the workplace is that every small step forward needs to be acknowledged.   

Change leaders are essentially helping people to develop new connections within their brains.  Our role should involve creating opportunities and interventions which give people the chance to trial new behaviours in a safe environment.  We should allow them to take the ‘risk’ of doing something uncomfortably new and succeed at it. The more fun we can build into the experience, the more people will become involved in it. 

Positive reinforcement is essential to help embed the new thoughts and behaviours and to show the limbic system that this change is nothing to fear.  The more often we can encourage people to repeat the new actions, the more comfortable their brains will allow them to feel.  When people are comfortable, their high order thought processes resume functioning and their creativity and decision making skills start firing again.   

If you are leading change in your organisation you can create the right atmosphere for change by building a safe and positive environment for your team and identifying ways to acknowledge and reward new actions or behaviours. 

What is your organisation doing to support its people through change? 

Email me your thoughts and insights – or you would like to know more about creating these environments to sonia@leadershiphq.com.au 

We’re All in This Together

We’re All in This Together

Yesterday I was the Keynote Speaker for one of my favorite keynotes and workshops around Leadership Attitude. Even though the theme was Balance for Better, I focused for Balance is Better for all of us; together regardless on race, gender, age and so forth and to appreciate the uniqueness and talents of us all. Leadership is about being brave and kind – and ultimately if you can inspire someone to do more, learn more and be more; you are a leader. What I loved about the keynote was the number of men and women in the room and the number of men and women in the room who approached me afterward to share how much they got out of my keynote and some had tears (me too by the way…).

However, I was reading that SurveyMonkey and LeanIn released some startling findings recently: men are much more reluctant to participate in workplace activities that have them closely interacting with women since #MeToo and the anti-sexual harassment movement have gained traction. While #MeToo is fantastic for women, the ferocity of support has left many men worried about their actions being misconstrued – and this is causing women to miss out on valuable career opportunities, such as having male mentors and sponsors that can help them advance. In this era of #MeToo, we need to understand that it doesn’t mean we have to be against each other; it’s not men versus women, it’s all of us against inappropriate actions and behaviours that are damaging in the workplace (and all other areas of life).

If men continue to avoid solo interactions with women at work, we’ll only see the gender gap keep widening and the imbalance of power will be even more difficult to address. Men, especially managers, are doing a further disservice to women (even if they aren’t intending to) by hindering their career growth and progression. Great sponsors and mentors can make all the difference to a woman’s success in the workplace, so we must become allies, not enemies. 

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So, just how can we demonstrate that we’re all in this together, especially if we’re men who are concerned about being unfairly labelled? The answer is simple: act respectfully to your female colleagues and be sure to support them wherever possible, to help them grow and advance. Sponsorship is one of the best ways to do this.

A workplace sponsor is someone in the workplace who has power, who can influence decisions made about your career progression, advocate for your advancement and success and allows you to make mistakes (sometimes) and take risks, without harming your career. Sponsors go to bat for you, at the expense of risking their credibility and is a truly important part of your growth in the workplace. They are more hands-on than mentors, but that isn’t to say that mentors don’t have their place in helping a woman’s career.

Fast Company released data that shows that sponsorship is one of the most crucial parts of career advancement. Women with sponsors:

●     Are 27% more likely to ask for a raise than female peers who aren’t sponsored

●     Are 22% more likely to request ‘stretch assignments’ that contribute to their leadership reputation

●     Report that 68% are satisfied with how their career is advancing

Men are much more likely to have a sponsor than women – 56% more likely, in fact (according to Harvard Business Review). This culture needs to be changed, so that more men start stepping up and sponsoring their female colleagues, and that those women are prepared to accept the offer.

Contact the team at LeadershipHQ about how our cutting edge and transformational leadership programs and coaching can change and transform your team and business.

As I said before, we’re all in this together. This means women should accept the help men are offering, and men should be offering more often. When men in the workplace make a real commitment to boosting their female coworkers, by advocating for them and promoting them (when deserved), we’ll start to see unity in the workplace and equality in opportunities and power for women. Respect goes both ways, and if you aren’t behaving inappropriately towards the women in your workplace, then you have nothing to fear.
Can You Afford the High Cost of Poor Leadership?

Can You Afford the High Cost of Poor Leadership?

Many of us have seen poor leadership in action – those bosses that drive away your colleagues and new hires in droves, possibly even forcing you to quit as well. You’re left wondering why the management hasn’t changed, even in the face of such poor employee retention. When leadership in a company is poor, millions of dollars are lost each year due to the way it affects customer satisfaction, staff retention and productivity. When only 30% of your employees are actively trying to do a good job, there’s a problem. We’ve gathered some statistics to show you just how much poor leadership really costs.

  • Between 9-32% of staff, turnover could be avoided with better leadership
  • Poor leadership can cost the typical company up to 7% of their total annual revenue
  • Improved leadership can eliminate the 5-10% drag in productivity that many organisations are operating with
  • 25% of staff quit because they don’t feel empowered by their leader
  • In a company of 250 that has 25% of its staff leave each year, with an average turnover cost of $5500 per staff member, this equals an annual turnover cost of $343,750!
  • These figures are the dollars lost in staff turnover due to poor leadership: Entry level – 30-50% of salary. Mid-level – 150% of salary. High level – 400% of salary

When poor leadership is ignored, every aspect of a company suffers. You’re not getting the best from your employees, many of whom are actively trying to ‘get back’ at their leaders through reduced performance. Customers sense (or can plainly see) staff unhappiness, leading to poor customer retention; it’s not just employee retention that suffers.

The culture of an organisation and business is so important, and ineffective leadership causes damage that cannot be repaired until the root problem is addressed. So how do we start improving the leadership within an organisation, and decreasing its high costs?

Contact the team at LeadershipHQ for a FREE Leadership Analysis at info@leadershiphq.com.au

Start investing in your leaders, and in turn, your employees, by providing opportunities for improvement in their leadership skills. Whether you decide to do this internally with your HR department or outsource to an external company, you’ll soon see the benefits – and so will your bottom line.

Culture changes don’t happen overnight, but it’s worth reassessing your goals, vision and mission to make sure they align with the new culture you’re wanting to introduce and grow – one where employees are led by the best, where they feel valued and appreciated, and want to put in their best efforts for the company. Investing in your leaders means your staff will start becoming more invested in their work, and in the company as a whole.

Companies can’t afford to pay the high prices of bad leadership, so it’s time to be proactive and start facing the problem head-on – can you and your staff continue to pay the price, both monetary and emotionally? Don’t drive away your best employees (and customers) with bad leadership.

About LeadershipHQ

LeadershipHQ have helped 1000’s of small to medium sized organisations (sometimes corporates), teams and leaders. LeadershipHQ partner with businesses and leaders in building & delivering high impact

Leadership, People, Cultural and Business Strategies and Programs that ultimately improve the bottom line. We work with leaders and organisations across the globe transforming their leadership, culture and organisations with our cutting edge and results-driven strategies, assessments and diagnostics, leadership events, coaching and programs. 

We know Great Leadership means Great Results. We have a team of brilliant people across the Globe who work with organisations and clients to deliver great results and leadership. We are the innovators and thought leaders in Leadership and Strategy through our consulting, events, internal and external programs and online resources. 

Our specialities include Cultural Transformation | Business Strategy | Leadership Development | Facilitation | HR Consulting | Executive Coaching | Keynote Speaking | Online Programs | Licensing Programs | Online Resources | Emerging Leaders | Women in Leadership | Leadership Coaching Program | Masterclasses – Half and Full Day Leadership Workshops | Events | Mentoring Programs

LeadershipHQ is the headquarters of Great Leadership. We have our online resource centre and programs, leadership magazine and we have been named in the TOP 50 & 100 Leadership Blogs across the Globe for CEO’s, Entrepreneurs and Executives. 

Our clients include Thiess, Super Retail Group, Coles, Kane Constructions, McConaghy Properties, ARTC, Aurizon, Qantas, Virgin, Origin, Downer, Genie, CQU, Griffith University, Lend Lease, Vic Racing and SEQ Water.

Phone 1300 719 665  www.leadershiphq.com.au www.soniamcdonald.com.au

Does Your Team Need Some Resilience?

Does Your Team Need Some Resilience?

In the past few years, we have been delivering more and more Team Alignment and Leadership Workshops. I am hearing the same stories and experiences across all these teams – the need to align, collaborate, lead, innovate and keep moving forward in being a stronger and resilient team. As technology and the world advance, workplaces find themselves up against an almost constant stream of challenges, whether in the form of workplace bullying, the restructuring of organisations, micro-managing, ridiculously large workloads and having no support from leaders or the rest of the team. Workplaces also liaise and work more with companies in other countries, which means different time zones have put an end to the ‘traditional’ working hours of 9-5 (or similar), leaving less downtime. Technological advancements can also be overwhelming, trying to keep up with the expertise and skills needed to take advantage of it. So what is the answer to dealing with these issues, and just how do they affect your company’s bottom line?

When your team is feeling overwhelmed, stressed or upset when facing the challenges of the modern workplace, you’ll see a decline in productivity and employee morale, and a sharp increase in staff turnover. You might think some people just handle stress better than others, but there are things you can do to help your staff improve their handling of these challenges – to help build their resilience.

Resilience is, essentially, the handling of stressors and problems without folding under the pressure. You’ll find some people do their best work when faced with being stressed, but you can still teach others in the workplace how to build up their resilience, to produce better results and better handle all that their work throws at them.

Here are some tips to help your team manage (and/or build) their resilience:

Improve social interactions at work

When employees have a reliable social network in a workplace that promotes open communication, you’ll see them thrive in no time. When they love coming to work, they’ll be more productive too. Being sympathetic as a leader, providing opportunities for teamwork and holding social events for the workplace will help boost your team’s relationships.

Promote a happy and healthy environment

Along with helping your team build beneficial relationships at work, there are many other ways you can improve your workplace’s psychological environment:

  • Be an approachable and open leader
  • Don’t regularly restructure or change the roles, procedures, and expectations of the environment, in turn providing a feeling of job security
  • Watch that workloads don’t get excessive, and provide variety in tasks to keep your team interested
  • Have other leaders or managers trained to be more aware of the team’s wellbeing
  • Show that you trust your team by letting them have a degree of autonomy
  • Be flexible with how your team can work; offer differing hours or to work from home if needed
  • Be sure to recognise and reward great work
  • Invest in training your staff in new skills
  • Be fair

People who feel valued, trusted and supported by their leaders will be empowered to handle the challenges that come their way without crumbling, improving their resilience.

Take challenges as an opportunity for teaching

When you treat problems or failures as learning opportunities, you’ll be demonstrating resilience to your team, and showing them ways to look at challenges in a different light, helping them build their own resilience as well. Be sure to explain how not everything will work, but that’s okay as it’s still an important part of ultimately succeeding. Workplaces face challenges often, and modeling resilience for your team will be a great influence when a problem arises.

Be grateful

At the end of each working day (or week), tell your team what you believe was a success that day (or week), and ask them what they believe went well too. Focusing on the positives is a great exercise to help your team realise that there’s always something to be grateful for, which is essential when building resilience.

These tips will help you empower your team and manage their resilience in the workplace, leading to less staff turnover, and an increase in morale and productivity. Take the time to work on your own resilience as well, so that you can effectively model it for your team. Don’t forget that your team looks to you as an example; how you handle workplace challenges directly influences your staff and provides them with ideas on how to react.

Reach out to LeadershipHQ about our Team Alignment and Development Workshops and Programs at https://leadershiphq.com.au/

Author – Sonia McDonald

Sonia McDonald is one of Globe’s leading leadership executive coaches and keynote speakers, as well as an advisor, thought leader, and author. She’s also CEO and founder of LeadershipHQ and has been named as one of the Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs and Top 250 Influential Women in the world. LeadershipHQ is leading the way in leadership and partner with Organisations and Businesses such as Qantas, Thiess, Super Retail Group, Brickworks, Kane Constructions, Bartons, EY, Maurice Blackburn, Grant Thorton, and Minter Ellison. LeadershipHQ partner with businesses in building great leadership and people development through their cutting edge and high impact leadership programs, coaching, workshops, resources, and events.

Sonia has worked, coached and spoken in front of people around the world, encouraging them to succeed by reaching their full potential and inspiring leadership greatness. Sonia has written several books on leadership: Leadership Attitude, Just Rock It! and Neuroscience of Leadership, and she writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. She has been published in BBC Capital, The Australian, HRD Magazine, Business Insider and Richtopia. She has spoken at numerous leading conferences, companies, and events across the world with her vision to create authentic, kind and courageous leaders and organisations.



Trust to Improve Performance

Trust to Improve Performance

What’s the secret to improving your teams’ motivation and performance? You’ve probably asked yourself this plenty of times when measures that you’ve put in place haven’t been as effective as you’d hoped. You have great incentives in place for your team, you’ve streamlined your processes and procedures to make things as efficient as possible, but you’re still not getting their best.

Gallup conducted a 142 country study on the State of the Global Workplace, and found the following shocking statistics:

  • 60% of Australian employees are “not engaged” – meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organisational goals or outcomes.
  • 16% are “actively disengaged”, indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to co-workers.
  • Only 24% are “engaged”.


So how do you get your employees engaged, motivated and working hard? Something that you have to earn – trust.

Without trust, your team won’t be working to the best of their ability. If they can’t trust in their leaders, why should they put in more than the minimum amount of effort?

Author and professor of economic sciences, psychology, and management at Claremont Graduate University, Paul J. Zak, measured oxytocin levels and brain activity as people worked, over eight years. Oxytocin is the hormone that affects parts of our interaction and behaviours including trust. His research showed that trust within an organisation is absolutely vital to performance, and also that there are eight ways to quantify and boost trust within a workplace. Luckily for us, Zak made these into an acronym – OXYTOCIN – so it’s easy to remember.

Let’s take a look at what OXYTOCIN stands for 


Positive reinforcement (like rewards and recognition) has been shown to trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is linked to motivation and effort, so it’s important to recognise and reward your team for great performance because then they’ll want to continue working to that high standard. Nobody likes working hard without that effort being acknowledged.


Expectations need to be set and made clear, so employees know what they’re working towards. Make sure that your team knows they’re part of the big picture, and explain just how they are. When you get your team involved in the mission, knowing that they are directly influencing the success of that mission and your organisation boosts their motivation and commitment to meeting and excelling at their goals and your expectations.


Micromanaging gets you nowhere; as a leader you must be able to effectively make decisions and delegate tasks. Foster a safe environment of learning – mistakes aren’t the end of the world, just make sure to learn from them – and your team members will thrive when given more responsibility, and work more autonomously knowing they won’t be punished for mistakes. They will feel motivated and empowered from being trusted to do important tasks.


Transfer refers to enabling your team to ‘job-craft’ – make their job their own, and make their own decisions about how they define success.

Research undertaken by the University of Michigan showed that allowing employees to job-craft resulted in higher levels of job fulfilment and engagement. This means less staff turnover as well.


Being transparent and open with information relating to your organisation builds trust with your team because it shows that you’re being honest with them. You’d be surprised how much time and effort is taken up when your team is wondering what’s going on, so be sure to practice openness when communicating with your team.

Team members appreciate being told what’s going on, even if it’s not always good news since it gives them a chance to voice their opinions and give their input. When employees feel heard, they also feel valued and so want to return the favour and work harder.

We have launched our NEW Performance Team Coaching Program – find out more HERE! 


During his research, Zak saw a variety of studies that showed how important relationships (including friendships) are on retention, productivity, health and overall job satisfaction. Encourage relationship building amongst your team by providing plenty of team-building opportunities such as collaboration between departments, and making sure to reward great teamwork.

If your organisation isn’t getting across how important workplace relationships can be, then your team won’t be trying too hard to build their networks.


Invest in your team; provide them with training and opportunities for reward and advancement, and you’ll see a big improvement in their engagement. Your team will also trust you more, as they see how much you value them by choosing to invest in them. Feeling valued like this is a great motivator for employees to do their best.


The best leaders aren’t afraid to be vulnerable; being authentic and natural shows your employees that you’re human too and that they don’t have to be perfect because you aren’t either. When your team can relate to you, they’re inspired to be more open and honest as well. This allows them to ask for help sooner, instead of fearing being reprimanded, which means time isn’t wasted and work can be carried out more competently and efficiently.

Trust isn’t exactly something you can measure, but it’s a huge part of getting your team to consistently perform at their best. What Zak found from his research is that when you have people working for organisations that have an emphasis on trust, they are 76% more engaged, 50% more productive, and 50% more likely to stay in that organisation. You can’t argue with those results!

If you’re a leader who wants to step up your game and start encouraging a culture of trust in your workplace using resources backed by extensive research and with proven results, check out our Leadership Attitude Academy here, or book a coaching session here.