By Ty Bello
You have a choice: be the employer of choice or settle for whatever is left in the marketplace.
Last year, Merriam Webster’s dictionary stated that “culture” was the most popular word of the year. This has definitely become one of the most popular words in business and in the boardroom.
From recruiting to interviewing and from on-boarding to retention, culture is playing a larger role in the candidates that are attracted to a business.
For the past several months, there have been more “Help Wanted” signs, banners and posters in front of businesses, on windows and counters. Culture is one of the leading attractions for recruits as they determine where they want to work. At this particular season in business, the tables have turned. It is not whether you want a specific recruit to join your business, but perhaps whether they want to join your business.
There is no doubt that the different generations – Boomers, Gen X and Millennials – will have different expectations from their work environment and experience. In a study of 1,700 U.S. workers conducted by Gallup, the results were startling.
Boomers were fairly predictable in areas of management, work environment, and opportunities for advancement. Boomers responded that although these are all important, they actually ranked them at 60 percent or less as areas of extreme importance.
The response from both Gen X and Millennials was surprising because they ranked these same areas equal to or slightly less than Boomers as areas of extreme importance.
But Millennials rank “culture” – defined as opportunity, interest in the type of work, and informal work environment – higher than boomers.
To some degree, we can thank social media for the shift in bargaining power of recruits and employees. Websites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed have exposed companies’ brands and specifically their employment brands. These platforms will openly share if a business is a great place to work; so the secret is out.
According to a Gallup Poll from 2014, 31 percent of employees are engaged at work, while 51 percent are disengaged and 17.5 percent are actively disengaged. It is not just recruits that need or desire a cultural shift. Glassdoor’s database shows that the average employee gives their company a C+ (3.1 out of 5) when asked whether they would recommend their company to a friend.
The call for cultural change is there; and if left unanswered, companies of every size will find it increasingly difficult to recruit high-level candidates, lose existing team members, and ultimately settle for the remaining employee pool that others have passed over.
What are some of the top cultural attractors for this generation of recruits, and similarly appeal to those already in your employment?[Note: Before reviewing the following cultural attractors, be mindful that cultural change is a movement and not a mandate – movement in a direction that will benefit the company and team members, equally as much as it benefits the customers and community.]
- Recruiting/interviewing, on-boarding and training processes: Developing and executing these initial elements is key to attracting recruits, and sends a positive message to the existing team.
- Performance evaluations/reviews: Size of a company is irrelevant when it comes to communicating to existing team members about their performance. This all starts with clearly defined roles and responsibilities (or job descriptions), and then holding each team member accountable to the performance criteria established.
- Ongoing training and education: With so many resources available to a company from vendors, suppliers, community and industry experts, and social media, training and ongoing education must be a part of a business. Offering tuition reimbursement is also a key attractor for both recruits and existing team members. The investment and development of the team is always a deposit into the future success of the business.
- Coaching and mentoring: Meeting frequently with every team member – above and beyond annual evaluations and reviews – engages the team in a “we care” culture. These coaching and mentoring times do not have to be in an office, but can be; although it is highly recommended that they are done off site.
- Environment and workspace: Considerations in this area include the addition or expansion of a real break and lunch area; Keurig machines (not just coffee pots); snacks, food, soda, and water.
- Bonuses, incentives, and profit sharing: Clearly defined achievement rewards that are tied to goals and overall company success.
There must be a balance between operational, process, and visual changes made in a business to fully absorb cultural change.
The first thing business leaders need to identify is that cultural change is needed. Many companies have been rooted in decades-long practices that, by definition, are the culture. Business leaders must also be aware that change takes time, and a company does not need to change just for the sake of changing. However, the marketplace has turned in the verdict, and unless a company changes it will not have the recruiting and retention power needed to survive.
Some steps that can be taken to become the employer of choice in the marketplace include:
Clearly define the culture: Once leadership has determined that cultural change is needed, it must be defined. Cultural change is part of the grander plan to grow a company with the best people, products and processes. Cultural change should not be gauged against the P&L or balance sheet; but if cultural change impacts people, products and processes, these too shall follow.
Communicate, dedicate and activate: Once the culture is defined, it must be communicated with the team and must become part of an even greater branding effort to the community at large. Resources must be dedicated to this effort to achieve the desired changes. Similar to other project plans within the company, a cultural change plan should be developed. As the execution team follows the plan, aspects of the change process need to be activated within the company.
Set the standard: The leadership team must be “all in” on these changes. There is nothing more defeating and devastating to team than when leadership says one thing, but does another.
Team approach: Cultural change should never happen in a vacuum or bubble. Team members from every department should be involved in identifying and developing change indicators within the company. The involvement of these team members will encourage others and could even be a change indicator for the company.
Cultural change is an investment in a company that will begin to pay dividends immediately. Cultural change provides a steady residual in slow or fast economies. Change is never easy, but cultural change is essential to compete in today’s marketplace and become an employer of choice.
Ty Bello, RCC is the president and founder of Team@Work, LLC. He is an author, communicator and registered coach. The team at T@W has more than 50 years of combined experience in assessing, developing, and coaching sole proprietorships, sales teams, C-suite executives, individuals and teams in a variety of industry settings. Contact Ty at firstname.lastname@example.org for your sales, customer call center, and management coaching needs. Or visit www.teamatworkcoaching.com for more information.