(And retain top talent!)

By Daniel Abramson, HRSource

For companies to succeed, they need to be able to attract and keep top talent, and “culture fit” has a direct impact on the latter.

According to a study by global staffing firm Robert Half, 35% of workers would turn down the perfect job if they didn’t feel it was the right culture fit. And a recent retention report from employee engagement platform TINYpulse found that employees who rated their company culture poorly were 24% more likely to leave their job for another opportunity within a year.

In today’s funky job market, candidates are picky about the type of enterprise they choose to join. For that reason, it’s crucial to describe your company culture in a way that’s both enticing and easy to understand. Plus, accurately describing your company culture will improve recruitment efforts by making it easier to identify candidates who will connect with your business while retaining the people you have. 

What is Company Culture?

Company culture can be simply defined as the words and phrases that describe the personality of your business.

Company culture is basically the shared values, beliefs, behaviors and practices that shape the way a business does things. Your organizational culture defines for you and others how your company conducts business, how your employees interacts with one another and how the team interacts with the outside world, i.e., your customers, vendors and supplier partners.

Think of it as the unwritten rules that guide how people act and make decisions. And let me tell you, these things can totally make or break a business. 

If you have a strong company culture, you’ll attract and keep “A” players, keep employees engaged and provide a better shopping experience for your customers. But if your culture is toxic, you’ll have high turnover, low morale and bad performance.

So, it’s important to have a positive organizational culture. This means figuring out what values and beliefs matter most to your people and company, and then making sure your policies, practices and behaviors all support those values.

The end goal is to create a workplace where everyone feels like they’re part of a community, with a sense of purpose and motivation. And when everyone’s on the same page, the whole company benefits; it just works better.

How to Define Your Company Culture

Ask your employees to write down the top five attributes that best describe your organization’s culture. They might write something like “good work-life balance” or “lots of meetings,” or maybe “team-oriented vs. hierarchal in nature.” You might see words like collaborative, friendly, fast-paced, agile or maybe even chaotic.

Now, spend a few minutes thinking about why each of those attributes is either important or unimportant to your company.  Then, try to figure out what makes these culture attributes valuable to your people and customers.

A Strong Culture Helps you Hire and Retain Top Performers

It should come as no surprise that employees who feel like they’re part of a team, rather than a cog in a wheel, are more likely to stay at your company and be productive. In fact, that’s what most job candidates are looking for in an employer — a fun place to work where they can contribute, and their ideas are heard and appreciated.

Ask any top performer what keeps them at their company and you’re bound to hear “the people.” That’s because a workplace culture focused on people is attractive and has appeal.  It helps improve engagement, deliver a unique employee experience and makes your employees feel more connected.

One way to attract top performers who are natural culture champions is to hire for culture fit.  You can use all the culture buzzwords you want, but if your actions don’t match your words or align with your work environment, you’ll confuse job seekers, appear disingenuous and could even lose great employees.

OK, so now that we know what company culture is and why it’s so critical to your business’s success, here are five ways to build it:

1. Define your core values
Core values define how you want the people in your organization to behave when no one is looking.  Your organization’s core values should be the foundation of your culture. Take some time to figure out what they are, and make sure everyone in your organization “gets it” and lives by them.

2. Hire people who fit in
When you’re hiring new employees, make sure they’re a good fit for your organization’s culture. This doesn’t mean hiring people who are exactly like everyone else in your operation, but rather hiring people who share your core values.  (We hire on attitude and teach technique.)  Use a personality survey to measure “soft skills.”

3. Create a positive work environment and vibe
It’s important to create a positive work environment where your employees feel valued, supported and appreciated.

4. Celebrate and recognize success
Celebrating success is an essential part of building a positive culture. Make sure you celebrate milestones like work anniversaries, acknowledge hard work and reward your employees for their successes.

5. Foster open dialog and communications (so important!)
Encouraging open communication is critical to building a healthy culture. Make sure your employees feel comfortable sharing their suggestions and concerns. The best ideas seem to bubble up from the field, nottop down. You can accomplish this by setting up brief but regular check-ins or daily huddles and creating anonymous feedback channels.  Maybe bagels or donuts on Friday mornings?  Let’s strive to catch people doing things right.

In conclusion, consider this a starting point to get you thinking about what your company brings to the table. Find out what aspects of your company culture are most important to your people by performing a “culture audit” using the five-attribute exercise. Your goal is to uncover and support what your employees value most. Your perception might not be the reality of your staff.

Have questions or need help defining your core values? Call me!

Daniel Abramson is managing lead of HRSource, a comprehensive collection of customized employment tools and turnkey solutions exclusive to BrandSource members. Contact Daniel at (540) 535-8484 or dabramson84@gmail.com.

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