How company culture can give you an advantage for hiring new talent

Twenty years ago, if you’d asked people what attracted them to and kept them with a company, they would talk about the benefits package and promotion prospects. Today, we make our decisions based on company culture – a much more intangible concept, but a very important one. 

Company culture is the ‘feel’ of an organisation – what it’s like to work there and how people interact with one another. Some people might respond to a very commercial culture where high pressure is rewarded by high reward. Others may prefer an employer that values people’s health and wellbeing, providing lots of opportunities to manage work pressures with more flexible working or access to a gym and yoga classes. 

Whatever your company culture, if you can clearly state and demonstrate it, you will attract the right kind of employees that will suit your business and drive it forward. 

Employees as an asset

Today’s focus on company culture is an acceptance that employees are a vital asset to any organisation and should be treated as such. People that identify closely with their company’s culture are more likely to stay loyal and feel motivated to do their best at work. 

Companies that aren’t clear about what they stand for today are losing out to those that do. With sites like Glassdoor enabling job seekers to read reviews of every company as an employer, company culture can be the key to strong ratings and therefore greater attractiveness to potential employees.

Ranking the best employers

Glassdoor even publishes an annual top 10 list of the best companies to work for. Unsurprisingly, Google and Facebook are strong performers, but there are some interesting names on the list that might not be those you would expect. These companies are clearly doing something right. 

Various consulting organisations have explored the key to strong company culture, and the consensus is that the following are vital ingredients: 

  1. Defining the culture. Every company has an existing culture, so you can’t simply decide to create one. You need to recognise what your culture is currently and where its strong points are. That way you can embrace it, reinforce it and develop it.
  2. Agree and state your values. Company values are a vital statement of what’s important to the organisation. They will help people understand whether they identify with your organisation and whether it will suit them. Many companies develop their values based on extensive consultation with existing staff, as they need to feel part of the process.
  3. Work out how you want culture to develop. It may be that your culture is too hierarchical or restricts two-way communication with employees. By identifying your challenges and your cultural objectives, you can find and agree ways to shift the culture to a more positive place. 

4. Find ways to celebrate what’s great. As part of the process, you should identify what behaviours you actively want to see, and a way of reinforcing them. This could be by creating an awards programme, or by including these behaviours as part of the employee appraisal process.

  • Help people share and explain. While culture is a ‘feeling’ rather than a product or service that can be described and sold, if you want your people to explain what they like about your organisation it helps to give them some words to use. Leaders should talk about culture and use consistent terms to describe it, to help reinforce the good and attract the best talent in the market to join you. 
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