Can we blame candidates for judging companies based on their culture? Workers spend a significant portion of their lives working nowadays – it’s unsurprising that they care so deeply about their working environment.
Most conversations around culture (up until now) have involved ‘perks’ – at least to some extent. Which companies provide free lunch? Which offer gym memberships? Which give the best swag?
Perks are great, but they’re not the best way to attract talent – at least not anymore. Inevitably, they’ll always be a different company that can offer better ‘stuff’ – it’s not worth trying to compete.
The trick is to create an awesome working environment and positive culture that makes your team excited to come to work, day in and day out.
This is what today’s top candidates really care about.
Why does it matter?
Salary isn’t the only tool that recruiters and hiring managers can use to encourage top candidates to apply for roles and accept offers.
Company culture is playing an ever-increasing role in the candidate decision-making process. This is particularly true among millennials and Generation Z. According to a recent study from Deloitte, millennial and Gen Z workers who are satisfied with their employers’ environmental and societal impact, as well as their efforts to create an inclusive work culture, are more likely to stay with their employer for five years or more.
If you want to attract and retain the best talent in this market, you need to seriously evaluate your company culture, and identify areas that need improvement. There are a few important steps you need to take to create an awesome company culture that will help you attract top talent and keep your employees engaged long term.
1. Consider applicants and candidates
Culture isn’t just for your existing employees. The moment a candidate first comes across your brand, they are already making judgments about your organization’s culture and employer brand.
Employer branding is the way that you show candidates what’s special about your company culture. It’s your own unique scent – and it’s essential that your hiring process is heavily infused with this scent.
Candidates will likely scroll your social media pages, browse your site and read your ‘About Us’ page before applying, but the formative impression that they’ll have of your company will be based on their interactions with your recruiting team.
If you’re not careful, you can do some real damage to your employer brand at this stage.
The companies that sustain high application numbers tend to be the ones that are the best at transmitting their culture to candidates.
Google is famous for their company culture and is considered a market leader here. They are fantastic at broadcasting their culture of innovation, and receive over 3 million applications each year because of it!
How do you convey your company culture to prospective applicants and give them a great candidate experience?
Encourage your team to share their experience
Happy employees can be champions for your employer brand and powerful recruiting tools. Encourage them to share insights into what it’s really like to work at your company on social media. This could be anything from pictures of team events to blog posts written by members of your team.
Engage potential applicants
Recruiting is a team sport, so don’t hesitate to get your team involved in the process! Encourage your whole company to engage with interested candidates online.
Provide an excellent (personalized) candidate experience
Treat your candidates with the same level of care and personalization as you do your customers. Keep them updated at every stage of their application and hiring journey, and try to provide as much personalization as possible.
2. Create an environment that motivates and engages talent
Who bears the responsibility of creating a positive work environment and motivating employees to excel in their roles?
‘High performance’ is often attributed to leadership and most companies look to their top managers to inspire their team to reach new heights.
We’re going to go against the grain here and be a little bit controversial:
You can’t depend on management for stimulus. Your team has to actually want to work – and motivation is highly personal.
One of the best ways to encourage employees to be motivated and engaged is through a positive working culture. Fostering a supportive environment where employees feel valued and happy can pay huge dividends.
There are few considerations that can help you build this kind of culture:
If an employee has concerns about anything from their workload to their day to day responsibilities, make it easy for them to come and speak to you (whether you are their manager, HR people partner, or a colleague).
If someone needs to work from home every Wednesday or leave the office early to pick up their children from school, don’t stand in their way. Today’s best employers embrace flexibility. The hard and fast rules of being in the office from nine to five every Monday through Friday, are no longer acceptable in the eyes of today’s top talent.
By providing a flexible working environment that allows employees to prioritize what’s most important to them (family, health, work life balance), they will be grateful and may be more productive as a result.
Be a true team
‘Teams’ come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s important that employers do their part to create a culture that promotes teamwork and helps build relationships among team members. This can be as simple as having lunch together, or even scheduling a monthly catch-up call with no agenda – just a time for the team to connect and chat.
Work on strengthening bonds between your employees and you should see an increase in workplace satisfaction and productivity – a win-win scenario for employees and employers.
3. Develop a unique company mission that resonates with your team
People generally like to work for companies that have a strong mission – bonus points if that mission aligns with employees’ personal values and beliefs.
Unsurprisingly, it’s easier to encourage people to be excited about their work when they’re engaged in an interesting project or pursuing a goal they care about.
In the same way, if your company has a purpose, it’s far easier to keep your current employees engaged, and to attract potential applicants who have similar interests.
4. Clearly communicate your company culture from the top down
Poor communication can be costly in any circumstance. But when we’re talking about shaping a positive company culture, good communication must be something that comes from the top down.
And the leaders and managers within your organization must be aligned on what the company culture should look like. But it’s even more important that they communicate that idea to the rest of the organization, and take the proper steps to make the vision become reality.
If communicated effectively and supported by leadership, culture should form an important part of everyone’s experience within your organization.
Here’s a quick example:
To form a positive and collaborative culture, organizations need to make working together a key part of every employee’s workflow.
There are a few ways to do this:
- Use collaboration software like Asana or Trello to make sure everyone is on the same page about deadlines and who is responsible for what
- Give ample opportunity for people to brainstorm and share their thoughts – make sure everyone feels like their ideas are heard
- Consider switching to an open floor plan in your office (instead of hiding everyone away in separate offices or cubicles)
Some companies are taking creative and unconventional approaches to achieve awesome levels of collaboration.
Software developer Valve has been known to give each employee a desk with wheels and encourages them to ‘roll around the office’ and get involved in projects they can add value to.
While you may want to keep your desks firmly anchored in place, but ensuring effective communication flow from the C-Suite down will make your culture far more likely to stick.
Creating an awesome company culture does require a certain investment – some companies go as far as appointing a ‘Chief Cultural Officer‘ to manage the process.
Providing your team with a great working environment is one of the best ways to keep your employees engaged long term – it’s also one of the best ways to attract top talent to your organization.
A strong company culture and an outstanding employer brand start with becoming a talent-first organization. If you want to stand out to today’s top talent as a first-choice employer, you must consider your talent at every stage of the talent lifecycle.