What is company culture, and why does it really matter?
While position requirements, salary and compensation packages, and career advancements are front of mind for candidates interviewing at your company, culture also matters.
Culture is like a vapor that permeates nearly every aspect of your organization, either adding valuable light and luster or weighing it down. As present or past employees express enthusiasm—or disdain—about working for your company, you can almost guarantee that culture has influenced that attitude.
Therefore, being intentional when creating your cultural building blocks is important. The company values that enable employees to do their best work are underpinned by the culture you design. Read on to find out how you can design the company culture that attracts, retains and supports your employees from initial conversation through to innovative high-performance.
Creating a Culture That Celebrates and Supports
Enthuses Kristin Cobb, CEO of EZ Exit Now, “I make a big point to say thank you to those who work with me.”
“We celebrate small wins. We make sure to celebrate every birthday and holiday and have daily motivational meetings. Scheduling support is offered to our team with flexibility. This is our corporate culture. Both our call center and exit strategy team hit ‘brick walls’ sometimes. It’s important for this work environment to be a place people want to be. We spend more time at work than with our families in some cases.”
And if you still raise an eyebrow at the value of celebrating your staff, consider Vistage’s scientific assertion that “with the advances in neuroscience—we know that celebration elevates oxytocin, which is a neurotransmitter which elevates collaboration and bonding.”
Creating a Culture of Innovation
Most organizations that are competitive and relevant, also regularly innovate. Otherwise, obsolescence gradually overtakes them. Just look at some of the companies who find themselves outdated, struggling and/or shuttered because they complacently, and perhaps even arrogantly, stood still while innovators leapt forward—Blockbuster, Blackberry, Xerox Corp., Borders, just to name a few.
And, while innovation requires employees to embrace ambiguity, push through fear, turn up the brainpower and sometimes even work over-time, most seek to be challenged in this way.
Performing innovatively aptly describes companies such as Netflix, who continually aspires to improve who and how they hire. In fact, the infamous Netflix Culture Deck, which has been viewed millions of times across the world, addresses its competitive hiring culture by emphasizing “high performance, and freedom and responsibility,” both audacious attributes which marry well with an ever-evolving and disruptive culture of innovation.
Netflix further underscores their innovative hiring culture on their own jobs page, outlining five special hiring process points that include encouraging independent decision-making and avoiding rules that otherwise might stifle employee creativity. As the article, How Netflix Hires the Best People and Keeps Them explains, this openness enables people to “work through context rather than being controlled, meaning if they can link the job they do to what the company is trying to achieve, they will do better work.”
Moreover, Netflix’s transparency in articulating their values asserts a five-bullet overview on Innovation, further ferreting out those candidates who also embrace this value, enabling an audacious environment of agility and change.
However, innovative cultures are not an easy button. Companies must consider the rigor involved to develop and maintain such an environment, including strategic leadership and capable, resilient talent. Warns Gary P. Pisano in The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures, “Despite the fact that innovative cultures are desirable and that most leaders claim to understand what they entail, they are hard to create and sustain.”
This is because the well-received behaviors are “counterbalanced by some tougher and frankly less fun behaviors,” says Pisano. For example, tolerance for failure is counterbalanced by intolerance for incompetence; experimental nature by rigorous discipline; psychological safety by brutal candor; collaboration by individual accountability.
As such, while most employees seek an innovative culture, it is imperative to identify and vet out talent that truly embraces these behaviors. Moreover, leadership must equip themselves with the blueprints and roadmaps to keep their talent innovators on track to meet the operational, marketing, technology, etc. goals at hand.
Lever Pro Tip: Lever is constantly innovating by enhancing our products such as Talent Cloud Connect. Leveraging this disruptive technology enables you to double recruiter productivity and achieve +50 percent increase in sourced hires by connecting requisitions with your talent pipeline, plugging holes in your process and improving the new hire experience.
Creating a Culture Around Learning and Development
It is important to distinguish innovation from improvement, as they both play significant roles in creating an audacious company culture.
“Innovation means doing or creating something that is new in order to grow, keep up with the competitor or be groundbreaking industry leaders,” according to Ruth Henderson in Knowing the Difference Between Innovation vs. Improvement. “However, improvement, or process improvement, refers to looking at how something is done – the steps, roles and materials used – and making it more effective and efficient.”
Those companies that do not continuously enhance and improve processes may find themselves struggling with productivity and quality outcomes, as well as talent acquisition and retention results. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction, insufficient product output and overall bottom-line recession. The organization that continually improves its modus operandi leverages advances in learnings, available technology, talent and other resources.
For example, Salesforce.com, Inc. offers seven learning and development processes during onboarding to improve new-employee performance and productivity. These include a plethora of online content, as described in Salesforce Onboarding Practices That Work. Trailhead platform, described as “the perfect place to start with Salesforce basics,” is a gamified training model that traverses nearly every aspect of Salesforce.
They also offer Chatter app (for internal engagement and learning from colleagues), live training with third-party websites, personal training by Salesforce experts, etc. Moreover, they incentivize existing employees to train new employees through a credit and reward system.
Deepening the conversation around improvement, we meet a company embracing process renovation to actualize an audacious culture. The Vice President at the helm of a major construction organization was recruited to turn around an operation on the brink of bankruptcy. Costs were up, productivity was down and the operation was sinking.
He resuscitated this dying culture through a series of process improvements: new marketing, pricing and sales strategies; revamped business proposals and strategic partnerships; and, talent assessment and transitioning of underperformers out of the company or into better-suited roles. The VP’s focus on mentoring, coaching and advancing team members further catapulted overall performance, and the company’s culture of improvement. As a result, the company experienced a complete turnaround: rocketing revenue, 80 percent reduction in expenses and a 60 percent market share increase.
Unforgettably resilient and with a newly revived reputation for cutting-edge processes and performance in a hypercompetitive environment turned the sinking ship into a cultural phenomenon sailing into profitable leadership waters.
“When you help people to grow and develop, the outcome is a winning trifecta: Knowledge workers find fulfillment, the customer experience is magnified, and the business thrives in rapidly changing economies,” concludes Marcel Schwantes, via Inc.
Final Thoughts to Creating an Unforgettably Audacious Company Culture
Continuously engaging both passive and active candidates is the new norm in recruiting, especially in such a competitive marketplace. This means being visible and vocal about your brand value across all digital channels as well as during in-person interactions.
Cultivating lasting relationships with talent that cross your company’s path helps ensure that when a hiring need arises, you have a strong talent pool to lean on. This includes everything from the swag you leave behind with workplace visitors to how you interact in the multifaceted social networking stream to how you nurture candidates through one-on-one conversations in advance of the job requisition.
According to a quote from LinkedIn Talent blogger Jenny Jedeikin in Tips for Creating a Passive Candidate Pool, “… hiring managers (should) make non-requisition calls to candidates to pique their interest,” asserting that every communication doesn’t have to be a job offer. Emailing check-ins helps acquire intel about their skills and experience.
Contact Lever to help improve your processes that identify, attract and build relationships with the right talent that will fit seamlessly into your audacious and ever-evolving culture.