Company culture and the modern employeeCase Studies

Company culture and the modern employee

6 min read, by Louise Brace

In today’s modern working environment, companies that want to keep the best talent working on their brand, product or service, go out of their way to hire employees who fit their company culture and brand values. Or is it the other way around? Do they go out of their way to build a company culture and values around the talent they want to hire?

It doesn’t matter which way a company works, the important lesson is that cultural fit is an all-important requisite for today’s modern employee. Candidates are looking for organisations that don’t just offer a great salary and benefits like a health club membership and annual bonus. They are looking for a company that lets them experiment with innovation and creativity, doesn’t care about job titles and probably doesn’t concern themselves with where they work, as long as they achieve results. A company that believes in regular gratitude and appreciative feedback and not just from the top down, also from the bottom up.

Peer-to-peer recognition systems like Mo are an essential part of the feedback system in a modern organisation. Coworkers recognising each other’s work can be so much more rewarding and motivating than receiving a pat on the back from your line manager.

When your recruitment process concentrates on finding talent that fits your company culture, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll have less staff turnover, better employee engagement, intrinsic motivation amongst teams and greater productivity.

So how do you find talent that fits with your company culture?

Firstly modern employees are looking for most, or all of the above from their employer. So if your culture doesn’t embrace flexibility, creativity and transparency, you’re unlikely to attract the hottest candidates on the block. You’re going to need a culture and values overhaul to match their expectations. Those companies who successfully put employee engagement and happiness at the top of their priorities are already on the fast track to recruiting great talent.

An interesting article written by Yay for Monday! creator, Sergey Kotlov, suggests that companies create Employee Personas. He suggests that companies select several employees who represent the identity and values of the organisation; interview them on their likes and dislikes and create a persona to look for in future candidates.

Richard Branson published an article on LinkedIn which explained why he recruits for personality, not skillset. He writes that if you get the perfect mix of people working for your company, you are more likely to enjoy success. Most skills can be learned, but you can’t train personality, so finding people who fit with your company culture and team values is the key to a winning team and successful brand.

Before you hire

Try combining Sergey Kotlov’s idea of creating an employee persona with identifying three core values that make up your company culture. Zappos online shoe store include, “Deliver WOW through service” within their core values, Google says, “Focus on the user and all else will follow” and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts cite, “Supporting sustainability” as one of their core values.

You can see that core values are unique to a company’s product or service, so think about what matters to your business, what is the value of your service? What has got you where you are today, or will get you where you want to be in the future? And what social values are important to your organisation and the people that work in it?

Think about social justice and dignity, the worth of your employees and the importance of human relationship and happiness. These are the principles around which you can start to deliver your core values. It should never come down to money. It’s always about the people, whether those people are your clients or employees – ideally both, and also the environment in which we work.

Here’s a great exercise that will help you work out core values to look for when recruiting that perfect team. It gets coworkers involved in the process .

Ask each team member to share their top 5 core values for:

1. Teamship and teamwork

2. Recruiting new members

3. Customer service

Now share the results for each grouping and identify those values, which have a stronger importance for team members. You can use these to analyse what values bring your team together and what they agree is important when it comes to working as a team and bringing on board a new team member who will fit in with the company culture. You can find more exercises and a downloadable version of the 250 core value sheet in this article on Value Exercises to Build Vision.

Get your team involved

Another method of ensuring new recruits will fit with your company culture is to get your employees involved in the recruitment process itself. At Just Digital in Brazil they have a very unconventional, but successful hiring process. It doesn’t use a recruitment company and is not left to the HR department.

Their first step is to sit down and create a role around the needs of the organisation, or a current project that is missing resources. The whole team gets involved in sharing the role on their social channels and posting on job boards. When they have a good selection of candidate responses, all team members are invited to decide if they agree that a candidate should make it to the interview stage (at least two team members must agree). The team is then invited to take part in interviews. It makes a lot more sense to me that teams working together, should also take part in the decision process of choosing new members for that team. After all, they are the ones who are going to be working together.

Forget job titles!

Finally, why restrict your employees by giving them a job title? Today’s modern employee is looking for a role that she can grow into and make her own. Forward-thinking organisations understand that if they want teams to innovate, then boxing them into a job title isn’t the answer. The solution is to let their creativity and skills flow out of the box. Trust is a great factor in satisfying the modern employee. Organisations must give their employees enough flexibility to say, “hey, you know what you have to do, you know your objective, we trust you to make it happen using your skills and creativity in the way you wish.”

Let them experiment and they’ll find a greater sense of purpose within the organisation. Your company culture starts here and the best talent for your organisation will find you.