Residential Magazine

Establish a Company Culture That Inspires

Create an environment that motivates employees to perform at their best

By Steven Ramirez

Anyone who has been in the mortgage industry for even a short length of time has seen their share of boom-and-bust cycles. Through it all, one thing has always been constant: Great companies need great employees. 

It’s more expensive to attract new talent than to keep your existing people engaged. But it’s not enough just to get them to stay. You need people who are motivated to bring their best game, whether they’re in the office or working remotely.

How do you create an environment that inspires people and raises the performance of the entire team? Often, it is not about compensation. Quality of life is important, but this can get lost in the shuffle at work. To increase employee engagement and build a culture that drives business growth, consider these principles.

Build buy-in

Employees need a reason to care about your company. How your company treats its people is reflective of the brand, so their reason to care won’t come from simply telling employees how great you are. It will come when they see how they can contribute to a larger vision. This is particularly true for millennials, who are “the least engaged age cohort, show the most turnover and have the lowest rates of well-being,” according to global consultant Gallup.

It’s not about pay; it’s about personal payoff. The key to building employee buy-in is to make sure people feel more confident, comfortable and valued. When the employee experience focuses on these essentials, people are more likely to bring your brand values to their work every day.

It may be as simple as encouraging team huddles to share success stories so that everyone feels recognized and valued, even for the little things. Or you can motivate employees through professional development and the chance to grow as leaders. You have to take concrete steps, even small ones, if you’re going to be intentional about strengthening your company culture. 

You may think your company vision seems self-explanatory. It may be something like, “Putting clients first.” But employees often hear it as a tagline rather than something that may require them to change how they approach their work. You need to actively promote the vision in simple, engaging ways that demonstrate what it really means for employees.

Encourage initiative

Employees often thrive when they see how they can make a difference. The goal is to create an environment that encourages people to be problem solvers. It isn’t about rigid job descriptions or roles — it’s about being agile and creative, and to see things through to completion. In the mortgage industry, you want every member of your team to feel that they can take action. 

This translates to personal pride and accountability. When employees feel they serve an important role in the bigger picture, your clients will feel it, too. If you are the manager or owner of the business, there is an important consideration here: You have to recognize that your team may not do things exactly as you would do them. 

If you want to foster accountability and initiative, you also have to allow space for employees to find their own way. You will still be a mentor, coach and adviser with a focus on helping people learn. A great way to drive this effort is by offering opportunities for employees to take on special projects and new challenges. In fact, studies show that employee engagement and retention rates are 30% to 50% higher for businesses with a strong learning culture.

Building employee loyalty hinges on giving people the tools and experiences to succeed.

Empower success

Building employee loyalty hinges on giving people the tools and experiences to succeed. Ninety percent of employees want to gain new digital skills to advance their careers, but 58% said their employers don’t provide the training required to understand digital tools, according to a survey by human resources consulting company Randstad.

In the mortgage business, this process can take many forms, from relevant training to the ability to become an expert on digital platforms. Helping employees do their best work is a good investment; it’s empowering for both them and the business.

Rethink training sessions. They don’t have to be drawn out or formal. Customize mini courses to help employees do their jobs better. Courses can be focused on things like empathy in client services, making decisions with data or how to think like your clients. You can get creative about the skills you emphasize. Create regular skill set tuneups with fun activities that can be made into games.

And don’t be stingy with feedback that helps people grow. Encourage managers to connect often with their direct reports instead of waiting until performance reviews. Fluid, open communications engender a culture of transparency, support and appreciation.

Whether your business is growing fast or is a well-established industry leader, your employees are the heartbeat of your organization. Passionate employee engagement may be key to your success, so take the time to focus on your company culture. Empowering your employees can be the best way to accelerate your company’s growth. ●


  • Steven Ramirez

    Steven J. Ramirez is CEO of Beyond the Arc. For more than 20 years, he has been helping clients in financial services, fintech and technology develop data-driven strategies to strengthen customer experience, marketing and operations. Ramirez also advises clients on how to deploy machine learning and artificial intelligence to make better decisions. Under his leadership, Beyond the Arc was recognized by Clutch as No. 1 among the top 15 big-data analytics companies in San Francisco. Follow Ramirez on Clubhouse and Twitter at @beyondthearc.

You might also like...