When attracting talent, company culture is critical

Remaking Company Culture40 hours a week, 52 weeks, 2080 hours each year are dedicated to work for many Americans. But as many of us know, 40 hours is laughable. Many people clock in far more hours for our employers in the name of keeping the company running, often spending more time working than engaging in our personal lives outside of work.

For employees, co-workers become a sort of quasi-family with whom we spend a majority of our time with day in and day out at our workplace. Having a good, if not great, company culture is more important than ever before. Keeping workers engaged and happy whilst in the company’s employ helps build an environment of positivity. And as we all know, happy employees are productive employees who often will spread the word about their great workplace to others.

As recruiters, we are often asked by the talent that we work with about a potential employer’s culture. Because let’s face it – nobody wants to work in a toxic place. Some employer’s don’t care about culture or, place very little emphasis on it; believing that the talent pipeline is endless and there will always be some willing person who will take the job (only to leave it a short while later once they’ve had enough.)

What these employers do not realize is that reaching and recruiting the best people for their openings is a tedious process. Salary is not enough to attract top talent in today’s job market. Savvy working professionals realize that money isn’t everything – especially when so much of your waking hours are spent working. A positive company culture becomes a heavily weighted factor, which, can make or break recruiting the talent you want.

As a talent acquisition partner for our clients, it is our job to learn about our client’s culture and match talent that we believe will flourish in such an environment. If your company’s culture is the pits, we can assure you, word gets out and not just amongst your employees and your talent acquisition partners, but also to the general public as well.

This can make it increasingly harder for your talent partners to attract candidates to fill your vacancies. Resources such as Glassdoor, eBossWatch, Rate My Company, Indeed, Google and others, provide an online platform where current and former employees can spill the beans on many factors making up a business, including the culture; making it easy for candidates to get “the dirt” on a potential employer long before an interview.

While numerous employers opt to ignore the culture issue, others are pursuing real change. With more workers retiring and generation(s) X, Y and Millenials occupying more of the workplace, having a kicking culture will not only be a competitive advantage, but an absolute must for employers who want to retain their best people.

So what is an employer to do? Here are our tips to get your company culture on track:
Take and keep a pulse.

Anonymous employee surveys, online reviews and individual department/manager surveys will help put you in tune to potential problem areas, or identify areas of immediate concern that need to be addressed. Another idea – “secret shop” your own internal organization, and we’re not just talking about the front lines of employees who interact with customers, but internal employees who interact with all levels of the organization. There’s a reason the show Undercover Boss became such a big hit. Teaming up with, or hiring undercover “staff” is a newer trend. Think of these people as individuals who are paid to get a real pulse of your business and report any problem areas with an unbiased opinion. You may not always like what they have to say, but chances are, you need to hear it. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly – if you are to truly implement meaningful change.

Ask your vendors.

Let’s face it – people talk and it’s not just your employees. Many vendors become privy to the inner most workings and conversations that your people are having about the company – good and bad. While it’s not prudent, nor professional to ask for names (and certain people may not be the soul cause of a sour culture), it is appropriate to ask them where they can see opportunity for internal improvement and external relations.

Start small.

Would it be the downfall of your entire company to implement a casual Friday policy? Or to allow more flex-time at work? Or maybe call a couple of food trucks and make lunch “on the house” for your employees once a quarter? Or how about random drawings to give out tickets and gift cards? Little changes can make a big impact and lead to other more substantial changes over time. But first, you have to be willing to stick a toe in the water…

Breathe.

We understand that there will always be employees who no matter what, are just not happy. When certain “toxic” employees are contributing to a dismal culture, it’s usually best to have an honest and accountable conversation with the person and  make them aware of the situation. Sometimes personal pressures can seep into professional lives and impact the employee’s performance and outlook. Often, one straight forward conversation helps this person to realize their impact and is enough to motivate them to find balance, seek the help they need to refocus, or begin to consider other options for employment when burn-out occurs. But when the one talk isn’t enough, it’s time to part paths with this person and move-on in order to keep one bad apple from spoiling the bunch.