Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

How to Create a Cutting-Edge Work Culture

​Tracy Stock, founder and owner of consulting firm Achieve Positive Outcomes in Charlotte, N.C., speaks at her concurrent session on June 11 at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2023 in Las Vegas.
​Tracy Stock, founder and owner of consulting firm Achieve Positive Outcomes in Charlotte, N.C., speaks at her concurrent session on June 11 at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2023 in Las Vegas.

The Great Resignation of 2021 continued into 2022.

Federal data shows that more than 50 million workers quit their jobs in 2022, breaking a record set the previous year. SHRM research revealed that employees of color, in particular, are exploring new opportunities.

"You may have just gotten new employees all trained, and they're looking to go elsewhere," said Tracy Stock, founder and owner of consulting firm Achieve Positive Outcomes in Charlotte, N.C. "That's the bad news. But the good news is that [HR] can make a difference."

Stock, a workplace expert and author, discussed how fostering an empowering culture in which employees are happy to come to work can reduce turnover during a concurrent session at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2023 in Las Vegas on June 11 titled "Create a Cutting-Edge Culture: Energized. Engaged. Empowered."

Characteristics of a Cutting-Edge Culture

Stock said the creation of a cutting-edge culture can help organizations achieve myriad goals. Key characteristics of a dynamic, healthy culture that promotes employee engagement and boosts productivity include:

  • Competitive pay.
  • Autonomy.
  • Perks.
  • Communication with candor.
  • Clear direction.
  • Active collaboration.
  • Flexible hours.

Companies can build an empowering culture that supports recruitment and retention efforts by:

  • Redefining the meaning of work. People want a job in which they feel they're making a difference, Stock said. They want to work for a company that leverages their talents and makes a difference in their lives.
  • Enhancing the employee experience. Stock said that workers want to truly feel part of an organization. Employers should work to help them connect with peers and strengthen their relationships.
  • Showing you care. Organizations can do a better job of showing that they care about their people during and outside of work.

Stock also implored leaders to avoid encouraging employees to switch roles for the sole purpose of advancement. This contributes to workers being promoted into jobs that they are ill-equipped to handle and can erode a workplace culture.

Instead, companies should contribute to their growth and drive performance by allowing employees to:

  • Have the freedom to work on things they're passionate about.
  • Take on roles that enable impact in a tangible way.
  • Have access to executives and department leaders.
  • Develop new skills and grow professionally.

However, Stock noted that fostering a cutting-edge culture is not simply the responsibility of the executive team. Each employee is "either adding to the success of the culture or creating a negative effect on the culture," she said.

Grace Kucharski, an HR generalist with cybersecurity firm GlobalSign in Portsmouth, N.H., appreciated this sentiment.

"A lot of times it falls on HR to deliver [a healthy culture], that we will fix it and provide that Band-Aid," she said. "I think getting buy-in from employees—saying you're equally a part of this process—will help everyone out. We need that excitement and enthusiasm from employees, too."

The Importance of Appreciating Employees and Having Fun

Appreciating employees plays a significant role in creating a sound company culture, Stock noted. This means treating people fairly, vocalizing your appreciation for them and openly celebrating behaviors that you want repeated.

Employers can show appreciation for workers by:

  • Asking for feedback, input and ideas.
  • Checking in on them, especially if they've shared a personal situation.
  • Giving their requests the same priority as your boss's.
  • Explaining to them why they're important to the company.
  • Offering visibility and access to key leaders.
  • Asking what you can do to help them do their jobs.
  • Providing opportunities for workers to shine.

Shana Bowman, the head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at the American Physical Society in College Park, Md., said her organization has received praise from employees for offering financial incentives and delivering shout-outs on its intranet to reward positive performance.

"It makes employees feel valued and seen, and it shows that they can get recognized from management and their peers," Bowman said. "At the end of the day, that really matters to them."

Stock also suggested that businesses occasionally host social gatherings—such as a company picnic with employees and their families—or put in place special summer or holiday hours to boost employee morale.

"It's OK to show some vulnerability," Stock added. "And it's OK to have some fun."


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.