In the race for talent, there are many things organizations can do to differentiate themselves to the best candidates. Today’s employees are looking beyond perks for something more meaningful: professional development opportunities, room for growth, and for jobs that have purpose. In short: the most talented employees are seeking to work in a supportive work culture.
Too often, “company culture” becomes synonymous with cheesy team-building activities or meaningless training workshops. Senior management fails to grasp that strong company culture is directly linked to employee engagement and productivity, retention, brand loyalty, growth, and a whole host of other metrics that impact a company’s profitability. One study found that 45% of job seekers consider company culture to be a top factor when they look for a job. Here’s how to build a company culture that delivers the best hiring results – and, inevitably, business results – for your company.
Culture starts with leadership
A company’s culture starts with its leadership team. “Leadership cultivates the foundation of culture to empower employees to achieve the company mission and realize how vital each of their contributions is to furthering those goals,” explains one expert in Forbes.
Culture in a workplace setting defines what is supported, accepted, or discouraged; it helps channel an organization’s energy toward a shared purpose and goal. When a company has a strong culture, employees are clear on their mission, values, and expectations. Often, culture is communicated by example. “The way an organization’s leaders define, display and communicate an organization’s purpose and brand influences whether employees will exemplify those values, especially with customers. Actions always speak louder than words, and the most influential messages are conveyed by leaders’ actions,” writes Gallup.
There are a few ways leaders can foster a great culture:
- Encourage transparency by hosting all-hands meetings, sharing company results, and gathering input from all levels about the company’s goals
- Set KPIs that align with your company’s values; for instance, to encourage call center representatives to put the customer first, don’t measure handle time or average number of calls per hour. Those metrics encourage service reps to dismiss customer needs quickly.
- Stay consistent: employer brands should match the consumer brand. If you’re promising to offer new innovation to customers, provide the tools internally to empower your teams to meet this new vision. Companies that thrive have the same internal and external brand values.
Care about your employees
The average American will spend more than 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime. As a result, successful companies need to create a culture that supports their workers’ mental and physical health. Building this type of culture includes investing in employee wellness, recognizing work done well, and improving inclusive hiring.
“Stress takes the largest toll on employee’s emotional health. From their daily commutes to their never-ending inboxes to tight deadlines, difficult coworkers and clients, employees encounter stress in nearly every part of their workday,” writes Spark Hire. As a result, job seekers are looking for flexible, stress-free work environments that value their well-being. Consider these data points:
- More than 76% of employees want time off to recharge;
- More than 70% of employees want stress-relief breaks;
- 97% of employees believe job flexibility will have a positive impact on their quality of life;
- 87% of employees believe that flexibility will lower their stress levels.
Consider adding a remote work policy to your company, or subsidizing health benefits like yoga class or meditation. A culture with a healthy work-life balance will improve your employee morale and, ultimately, employee retention.
Build larger purpose into your culture
Millennials are especially motivated by a sense of larger purpose. Research by Korn Ferry found that “63% of millennials—essentially, workers under 35—said the primary purpose of businesses should be ‘improving society’ instead of ‘generating profit.’”
Harvard Business Review defines purpose in workplace culture as exemplified by “idealism and altruism.” Build a company culture that is tolerant, compassionate, and incorporates a focus on sustainability and corporate responsibility. Millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause. How can you find ways for your teams to give back to the larger community? Some companies allow their employees to spend paid time on volunteer initiatives. Others add recycling programs or composting to their workplace cafeterias. The fast-casual restaurant Sweetgreen partners with local food banks and grocery markets to make purpose part of their consumer-facing branding, as well as their company culture.
Senior leaders can’t dismiss culture as an “HR problem.” Employees value culture nearly as much as a paycheck; invest in your employees and they will return the favor.
Chanler is the Business Development Manager at Elevate Talent, a recruiting agency that helps companies build their Go-To-Market and People Operations teams.