As someone with nearly two decades of talent acquisition experience, I have found that having a great culture is one of the top influences on employee engagement, motivation, and retention. When you invest in the well-being of your employees by creating a safe space in which to spend eight hours of their day, they will be more likely to invest in your business.
Building an attractive culture
One of the most important aspects of running a business is the people you hire. The culture you create will attract and retain those people and, if the culture you advertised is genuine, employees will refer others like them—with solid skills and similar work ethic and mindset—to interview at the company.
But how do you ensure that your business culture appeals to the kind of people you want at your company? And how do you create consistency between the culture you want and the culture you have?
Although culture varies significantly from company to company, depending on the size, the industry, whether an enterprise is publicly or privately held, and other factors, there are common practices that every company can use to establish an attractive, consistent, and sustainable culture.
- Culture starts with communication. Communication starts with the first conversation between a current and a potential employee. The level of care you show candidates is often a good indicator of how they will be cared for as employees. Having strong communication practices in place creates both a sense of partnership and respect for individuals.
- Trust is also key to culture. Building it comes by establishing a level of transparency that goes beyond pushing out information. Trust is a two-way street, so leadership at every level also has to be willing to have tough conversations—to answer the tough questions from their employees. And if there is bad news to share, share it—but also explain the strategy to solve the problems the business is facing. When employees understand what is going on, they are more likely to rally behind an effort to change.
- Building culture and a brand happens over time, but it cannot be done in a silo. Engaged, approachable leadership is fundamental to successfully developing an attractive culture. Business changes because the world changes. Flexibility helps an organization continue to thrive and be successful, but in order to change for the better, leaders need to have a pulse on what’s important to employees. Conducting engagement surveys, hosting anonymous discussion forums, and looking at Glassdoor reviews are ways for engaged leadership to listen, collect and dissect feedback, and act on that feedback.
- Remember the human side. Ultimately, culture is people. Holding social events; recognizing employees for who they are (like a shoutout on their birthday) in addition to their work accomplishments; and offering venues to share hobbies, pets, and other aspects of their lives give people opportunities to establish commonalities that bond them with their colleagues. Employees who not only work together but enjoy working together will build a better business.
Culture is the home and the heart of an organization. It is important to attract the best and brightest people to the organization, but equally important to keep them engaged in what they are doing. It is critical, then, to make sure that culture sits atop a solid foundation—that employees feel their culture is open and welcoming, a safe space in which to develop a career, earn a competitive wage and receive great benefits, and work with great people and feel proud of the work they do.
As leaders, it can be challenging to know where to start. You have a business to run, and earning money is likely at the forefront of many conversations. Remember, though, that success also depends significantly on the people doing the work of the business. Making decisions based solely on the bottom line can be disastrous in the long run for organizations.
Creating a company where people want to spend their time, not just show up to work, can drive revenue over time more effectively than focusing solely on financials.