Culture permeates every workplace, but it’s invisible if you don’t pay attention to it. How would you describe yours? Would employees say the same? Becoming a “best” company, “cool” company, or whatever you want to be, will not happen by default. You have to make it happen based on your particular mix of values, beliefs, and standards. This is important because understanding who you are and why enables you to leverage your culture into an employment brand that gives you a talent advantage. The tight job market isn’t about to change, but your culture may need an upgrade in order for you to compete.
Here’s the latest research from the Wilson HCG 2018 Fortune 500 Top 100 Employment Brands Report: It found that employment branding has reached a “fever pitch” among leading companies; the year’s top ten employment brands earn a combined 157 percent more in revenue than the bottom ten. There’s more: In looking at recruitment marketing alone, the top 100 companies scored 462 percent better than the bottom 100 by getting their stories out.
The conclusion? “Employment branding isn’t about shiny bells and whistles, or simply catching the eyes of intrigued candidates. It’s a <em>business</em> differentiator.” And yet the research shows that many companies are still challenged in trying to capitalize on talent acquisition and the bottom-line opportunities innovative employment branding brings. I think that’s because many leaders don’t really understand what an effective culture feels like, or whether they have one, much less how to build their brand around it. It’s not because they don’t think it’s important.
So how do you know whether you have a culture problem? Here are some clues: high turnover; difficulty attracting top people with the skills you need; a smaller-than-desired pool of qualified candidates; and an excessive number of illnesses and absences. These are some of the symptoms; now you need to look at the causes. When you aren’t paying close attention to your culture it’s easy to stay status quo and not keep up with changing times. Today, keeping up means meeting the needs of six generations in the workplace, and especially the needs of a large influx of Millennials and Gen Zs whose expectations are entirely different from those of the past.
Try to find your culture in the pairs of statements below. The 1s are more typical of effective cultures in today’s workplaces. If you have more 1s than 2s, you have much you can build your employment brand around. If more 2s, you have some work to do around culture.
Culture reflects the character and personality of your organization. It’s the sum of your purpose, values, traditions, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes. The combination makes you unique, and it should make you proud. However, there’s another critical element to consider. If that sum doesn’t add up to a place where people want to work, you will lose any competitive advantage you ever had in recruiting and retaining great talent. I’ve said this many times, but it’s worth saying again: Create a culture by design, not by default. It’s your ticket to success—and it’s well worth the effort.