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People Factor: How to Change Company Culture

Writer /  Suzanne Huntzinger
Photographer / Brian Brosmer

She’s saving employees, one company at a time. It’s not Undercover Boss, but Sanya Strawser, Owner and founder of People Factor is making bosses pay attention without a disguise.

Founded just last fall, Strawser’s start up is a response to the lackluster performance by most companies in the area of employee retention.

“Employers often do an adequate job of finding the right candidate for a job opening based on qualifications, but then they fall far short of doing what it takes to retain that employee for the long haul,” Strawser says.

With 18 years of experience in Human Resources, Strawser has seen her fair share of situations starting with the employee joining the company on a new-hire honeymoon high and ending with the highly valuable worker parting ways with the company just a year later because of mismatched job expectations.

It all comes down to what Strawser calls the culture of the company or the company’s unique personality. It’s People Factor’s signature philosophy. The philosophy centers around the idea that all companies have a culture, but it’s the leader who sets the tone for either an accidental culture or intentional culture.

“An intentional culture happens when the leaders set the tone and build a successful environment where all departments support the company’s mission statement, strategies, core values, vision and goal,” Strawser says. “The accidental culture may still allow for some growth, but the random nature of the accidental cultural environment doesn’t support the company’s core values and goals or the people.”

No matter what the culture, all human resource professionals would agree that a company’s greatest asset is its people. Ironically, Strawser says in all her years as a Human Resources professional, she has not seen one company with an HR department that’s loved by the rest of the company. But times have changed, and Strawser says it’s time for companies to start investing in their employees.

In this generation, where a four-year tenure is considered longevity, Strawser believes it’s time for companies to change their mindset and find a way to foster employee retention.

“All employees have one common need,” Strawser says. “They want to have meaningful work and feel valued. If employees don’t feel valued, they start to feel like the job is just a paycheck, and they start looking for something else.”

Strawser says employers can make employees feel valued by starting with simple things like rewarding a job well done with the person’s favorite treat or notes of recognition for demonstrating a core value of the company. But more importantly, she says, “Leaders have to provide a format where employees know it’s safe to speak up and advocate for their needs. They also have to follow through on what they promise to implement.”

Another important culture issue People Factor addresses is various teams within a company having differing cultures. For example, an IT team or accounting team may be staffed with people who Strawser calls “heads down” workers who prefer little or no interaction with other team members.

“That may work for the job they’re in, but down the road if that employee wants to be promoted, they’ll to have to learn to communicate and interact to fit in with the rest of the overall company culture,” she says.

Strawser is spreading her culture message fast. She started People Factor with one client, which was Strawser’s former employer. Strawser was a People Process Leader in her former company’s IT department. She developed a step-by-step method for hiring and interviewing and a strategy for culture development and on-boarding (the plan of engaging an employee in their first year). Upon leaving the company, Strawser continued on with them as a consultant. People Factor started small but ramped up marketing efforts in January. Now, in just seven short months, People Factor has just under a dozen clients.

People Factor would love to help improve the culture of your company too. Strawser says they start off small with a discovery phase and build a plan with the solutions that work for that company.

“But our program is not the same for everyone,” Strawser says. “We customize it to each client’s needs.”

The solutions People Factor offers include employee retention programs, development programs like team building, coaching and training, and diagnostics with focus groups, surveys and interviews. The company also offers recruiting services for companies needing to fill specific job openings. For job seekers, People Factor offers career services like executive coaching, resume writing and interview training.

Check out what People Factor can do for your company. Contact Sanya Strawser at 317-978-9009, or stop in and visit the HR professionals at 8625 East 116th Street in Fishers for a consultation.

About Suzanne Huntzinger

Suzanne Huntzinger has a journalism degree from IU and has lived in the Geist community for 18 years.

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