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Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer of Pacific Market International, shares what HR needs to know to make company culture a competitive advantage for recruitment and retention.
Culture-building is vital and encompassing work. While the nuts and bolts of growing and tending culture may seem abstract, the end result is indisputable. Cultivating a thriving professional culture requires focus and planning implemented through daily efforts. After all, it’s the people in your organisation who bring your brand strategy to life and deliver results.
The basis for building a successful culture is to make it clear to your team – your cultural champions –that they matter. They need to know that they are valued. Show them the impact of their contributions. This gives them the chance to feel truly enriched by the work they do.
Their work surpasses the transactional. What they build at your company has more meaning than market value. When you engage your team, you access their potential which stands to be a game changer for your brand. Position them to keep investing their precious talent in your company’s operations. Invite your team members to recognise that the company’s success is their success.
This approach stands to earn emotional buy-in, creating a vibrant culture-the collective talent of engaged team members. Fostering such a culture establishes your company’s reputation as an exciting place to work, which enables the recruitment of top talent. Plus, it stands to create a climate of retention.
Creating evaluative mechanisms is vital when you’re taxed with the ongoing work of culture building. Marketing the success of the culture is also important, especially when it comes to recruitment and retention.
Here is what you need to know to make your culture as your competitive advantage.
#1 Enable emotional branding and connection
Culture building starts from the top down. CEOs, leaders and HR professionals develop the values and cultural theme that inform the professional vibes that infuse the culture. Give that work the care it deserves. It is your company’s internal emotional branding – how you want stakeholders to feel about their value to the company and the value they offer the community on the company’s behalf.
Engage and empower employees, while inspiring them to advocate for themselves. We need them to be active. They do more than just absorb our culture-building efforts. We want them to leverage the culture to enable growth.
Encourage your leaders to dedicate their time, energy and skills to this vital pursuit. The ability to empower employees is an opportunity and a privilege. It is also a stretch assignment for leadership. This focus can enable an emotional connection with the work and build something truly valuable for people and company. This fuels employee excitement by focusing first and foremost on delivering an incredible experience for the team.
#2 Energise your storytellers
One key way that we can see our culture-building efforts winning is when we recognise that we have empowered storytellers and brand champions sharing their own unique narratives. Invite input. Look at the business through the employee lens. Listen to what the employees say about the company.
Storytelling is a way to bring others along the journey. Celebrate the employee experience. Establish a reputation as an exciting place to work, shaping the narrative through employee experience. Bring employees together so they can share their excitement with each other.
Creating a vibrant culture means enabling your team to feel fulfilled and important in their work, first individually and then collectively. Show them they matter. Listen to them. Position them to do their best work, individually and collectively. Then watch their fireworks display.
#3 Measure culture
Culture is not random, it’s a sum, an outcome. Culture is the result of how we behave and work; it is guided by decisions and what is reinforced. Culture can be mindfully shaped, built and measured.
“Internally, we measure our culture with an anonymous survey, and we publish those results to everyone in the organisation globally to hold ourselves accountable to act on employee feedback, not just ask for it,” explains Katie Burke, Chief People Officer of Hubspot. Burke adds: “Externally, we look at Glassdoor reviews and our candidate survey feedback for indicators on what’s working and what isn’t.”
Take a regular pulse as a basis for your assessment. It’s not just the fact that you are taking this measurement that’s valuable. It’s the message it sends that management is listening and holding itself accountable; that matters too.
#4 Market the culture you build
Make it clear to your team that your culture is evolving. Create a listening system for employee ideas. Submit ideas for business, process or product improvements, making sure that team members know their input is valued, heard and implemented.
Communicate it as a core part of your leadership values that engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their work and company. They drive innovation and move the organisation forward. Therefore, there is always room for their input. Get crisp with the communications strategy around decisions and changes so that employees can see what role they play and how they can shape the culture.
Focus on engaging and empowering your employees, and do so in such a way that they are inspired to advocate the company and the brand. Make employee ideas a reality, creating an internal brand around the concept. Your cultural enthusiasts have the ideal perspective to help you shape your company’s story. There is no better endorsement than the impassioned recommendation of someone who works for the company and uses the product. Recruit those voices and make them a consistent thread in everything you do.
Burke explains: “Your storytelling can’t start on an employee’s first day – you have to tell a compelling story long before a candidate even applies to join your team, so the first thing is ensuring your share your story early and often in any candidate or employee journey. That’s one reason that social media and content are so critical to employment brand – our employees share stories about their lives and careers that are far more valuable and real than a formal pamphlet could ever be.”
This effort gives your business a competitive edge-the hiring edge, the retention edge, the human edge. It makes your workplace feel good, and it fosters good work. Gauge it regularly by inviting your team’s participation and feedback.
Use that to shape the employee experience narrative. Burke points out: “We try to make our storytelling approach inherently human, highlighting not just all the big wins and successes we’ve had and experienced, but also sharing vulnerable and human moments as part of what makes our culture special.”
Your team members make your culture unique, successful and special. Give them the opportunity to shape and share that culture. Invite your employees to help build, engage in problem-solving and to be a part of the solution.
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