In my last blog, I wrote about the current candidate short market, and recruiting suitably skilled talent continues to be the pain point for many businesses. Attracting and retaining staff isn’t just about the duties and responsibilities that you are hiring for, it is also about your business and its culture. Lots of companies I meet with often talk about finding someone to “fit their culture” but when asked to describe their own culture, they find it hard to articulate.

A company’s culture is often what will win your preferred candidate over and have them wanting your role above any other. It defines your organisation and describes how your team interacts within it. By creating a positive culture, it ensures your staff are happy, productive, connected and invested in your business. On the other hand, a negative culture is often the driving force behind someone wanting to leave an organisation.

Building a positive company culture takes time and a commitment to continuous improvement. Here are some of my tips to help you achieve this within your business:

  • Company values – defining your company values (if you haven’t already) is crucial to the success of your business. It underpins how you interact with your clients and customers, and translates to your reputation in the market. Along with this, it’s important to understand how they translate internally as they may have different meanings both internally and externally.
  • Seek feedback and input from your team – this could be in the form of a brainstorming session, a staff forum, an online survey (where responses can be submitted anonymously), or a combination of all of the above. It’s important to dedicate time for this strategic reflection on a regular basis. It will allow you to capture shifts in your culture and get things back on track if need be as well as embedding new staff in your culture.
  • Walk the talk – it’s important to be seen to be living and breathing the values of your business day in and day out. If you are being observed doing this, it will allow others to aspire to these same standards. It will shape the behaviours you want to see in your business and the perceptions of the team.
  • It isn’t about the bottom line – building a positive culture isn’t about increasing profits, but if you get it right, your employees will be more engaged, motivated and more productive. Whether you are recognised as an employer that offers professional development, social events or for being community-minded, these are all factors that can set you apart from your competitors and become your employer brand.
  • Tell your story – storytelling is an important part of attracting potential employees to your business. Jobseekers don’t just want to read a position description; they want to know more about the inner sanctum and what you stand for. You may have an online presence to target potential clients or customers but make sure you invest in promoting your employee brand and telling your internal story. This is a powerful tool to target passive job seekers, allowing them to learn about your business and earmarking you as a potential future employer they would like to work for.

Once you have clarity on your company culture and what values are key to your business, it’s important to ensure you are asking specific behavioural-based questions throughout the interview process. Don’t rely on “gut feel” or whether you like the person sitting in front of you; be objective throughout your process by ensuring each candidate is assessed against a series of set questions that are linked to your company values and culture. This will allow you to identify who is the best cultural fit for your business (or even better, identify the candidate that will further enhance it!) Give candidates multiple opportunities to gain insight into your culture throughout the interview process with an office tour, a chance to meet peers in a more informal setting, and the opportunity to ask questions.

On the flip side, if your company’s culture isn’t great and you are experiencing some challenges, be honest with your incoming team member so they are prepared and come in eyes wide open. If one of your values is honesty or transparency, this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate it from the outset. Acknowledge the difficulties you are facing and what your plan is moving forward to turn things around. You will be surprised how many candidates will respond to this in a positive way, knowing what they are walking into rather than feeling blindsided after starting with an organisation. Sharing this information can have positive effects on your new employee feeling connected to your business from the outset, and makes them more prepared to weather the storm if they believe you’re heading in the right direction.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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