October 18th, 2016 | Sterling

If You Want to Hire the Best and the Brightest, Start with Your Culture

As the Chief Marketing Officer, I spend a good part of every week thinking about our company’s culture – where we are, where we want to go and the journey we have to take to get there. We’re not on a simple journey; we’ve acquired four companies in the past year. On top of merging talent, technology and business processes, we’re also blending cultures while reimagining our vision and commitment to our clients and the larger world.

The reality of today’s labour market is that we’re engaged in a war for talent. The question isn’t whether we believe it’s important to have the right people, but rather how good are we at attracting and retaining them? This is where culture comes in. Your company culture ultimately shapes the success or failure of your talent efforts – and frankly, your company’s success.

Last week our CEO, Clare Hart, had the opportunity to speak about the importance of talent acquisition and retention at Outsell’s 10th Anniversary Signature Event. This event addresses the top issues on the minds of top business leaders. Culture was a central theme and she defined it by stating:

Your company culture is your authentic DNA. It’s who you are, what you stand for and how you operate. It’s not just the words that you say, it’s also your actions and reactions. It’s the way you communicate and the tone for your words, the way you treat employees and clients.

So why does culture matter so much? Let’s start with the facts.

New research from Deloitte shows that culture, engagement and employee retention are now the top talent challenges for business leaders. More than half of all business leaders rate this issue “urgent,” which is more than double the number from last year. In addition, 75% of job-seekers consider a company’s employer brand before even applying to a job, according to CareerArc. And, in what may be the most shocking statistic, 95% of candidates believe that culture is more important than compensation. In fact, in analyzing our own business, we have determined that we save $1 million for every 2% increase in employee retention. Talk about return on investment!

So how exactly do you build culture?

You can take Google’s approach and lavish workers with on-site massages, free food and A-list speakers. Or you can offer meditation spaces on every floor like Salesforce.com. After multiple mergers and acquisitions, here is what we’ve found to be crucial to building a healthy, aspirational culture:

  1. Listen to Your Employees – Whether a survey or focus group, this is a great place to start. Ask your employees how they feel about their current culture and what they believe should be improved. This will help you to understand your culture at all levels in the organization and measure the impact of any change initiatives you launch.
  2. Be Transparent – After you gather feedback, share it widely (and yes, this includes the bad news and negative reviews). Not only does this show your employees that you are listening to them, but is also builds trust because you aren’t hiding information or glossing over the facts (that they already know).
  3. Be Authentic – It’s critical to be genuine to both your own personality as well as the culture of the company. Culture is not a box that you can tick and say “Yep, done that.” It’s a continuous level of engagement and conversation that you don’t want to fake. This is about how you behave when no one is looking. From the start, you must be honest about what you can and cannot do (and will and will not do) when it comes to your culture, your employees and your company.
  4. Live and Breathe Your Culture Every Day – Culture transformation is not something that changes overnight; it takes time, trust and work to change a culture. Our company is a 40-year-old start up. We have an established culture – but we also have a vision for what we want to be when we grow up. Acknowledging that it will take months and years for us to feel this culture shift is hard – especially when your culture is a fast-paced results-oriented one like ours. But the bottom line is that transformation takes both time and effort.

Where can you start? One easy win is how you onboard new employees. Think back to your onboarding experience – was it amazing, or was it a disaster? What could have been done better? By just taking a few moments to think about your candidate’s experience from decision to day one you can take a great first step at setting the culture tone for new employees.

For more information on improving this simple step, check out our whitepaper section here to get all of the latest expert articles on building an effective employment screening program.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.