Workplace Culture

Why Culture is Key to Winning Candidates

Coronavirus is forcing companies everywhere to reflect deeply on their values and workplace culture. For some, it’s presented an opportunity to re-assess their purpose. For others, it’s been a moment of reckoning as they come to terms with some of their more harmful actions and practices. More still are beginning to realise the inherent value in developing a strong work culture, one that not only empowers employees but also helps weather unforeseen challenges, such as Covid-19. 

Prospective employees everywhere are watching closely as companies deal with the pandemic, taking note of which ones are showing a strong sense of culture and which aren’t. Here’s why culture is so key for winning over candidates, particularly at this moment in time.

The importance of building a strong workplace culture

The sum of a company’s values, beliefs, traditions and attitudes, culture is most easily defined as a company’s actions at scale. For a long time, brand value and compensation were credited with driving employee satisfaction. However, it’s company culture that is now accepted as playing a key role in employee satisfaction and retainment.

There are countless reasons as to why culture is so important. From attracting the best talent and promoting satisfaction and happiness to driving engagement and performance, a positive and aligned workplace impacts almost every aspect of business. Companies that display a winning culture often outperform companies that don’t. More importantly, it’s what makes the difference between a great place to work, and one that is toxic. 

Perhaps what makes culture so relevant, particularly now during the pandemic, is that it’s what brings out the best in employees during adverse circumstances. When nothing else is certain, it can be the key to uniting workforces behind a common drive that isn’t purely tied to monetary gain. 

Covid-19, shining a light on poor culture

Speaking of the recent outbreak, prospective employees looking to make a career move (backlink to serious hiring article) are assessing companies much more carefully at this moment in time. They are curious about how staff have been treated during the pandemic, taking this as a sign of how much a company might or might not prioritise employee wellbeing. All of this makes developing and promoting a healthy workplace culture a top priority for organizations looking to build out their teams post-crisis. 

For every company that is doing their part to support and protect employees during the pandemic, there’s one that is treating their employees poorly. From failing to provide PPE and not enforcing safety protocols, to wrongfully dismissing employees for self-isolating, there are many companies making life difficult for their workers in the immediate. 

How to build and promote culture to prospective employees

While there are countless ways to exhibit and display your company’s culture, here are three fundamental things you should focus on, regardless.

Re-visit your purpose and values 

If you’ve not already done so, now is the perfect time to re-acquaint yourself with your company’s values and mission. Knowing why your company exists as well, as how you believe it should conduct business, creates a strong internal compass for staff members. It’s also worth reflecting on whether what you are doing, particularly at this time, is congruent with your values. If there is any inconsistency between what you’re saying and what you’re doing, now’s the time to address this and make any necessary adjustments.

Follow through with action

Actions really do speak louder than words. One of the best ways to promote better workplace culture, both to those inside and looking to join your organisation, is to bring it to life in a meaningful way. From getting leadership to role model desired behaviour to offering support to employees on furlough there’s a lot you can do. Here are a few examples of how companies have exhibited strong acts of culture at this time:

  • At Sprinklr, leaders have been encouraged to hold 15-minute “Heartbeat” calls, during which they can check-in and connect with their teams on a personal level. 
  • Ally Financial extended it’s already generous medical and mental health benefits to include free telemedicine consults specific to the pandemic crisis.
  • Real-estate firm Zillow will be allowing its employees to work from home for the remainder of 2020, with CEO Rich Barton expressing how the pandemic helped shift his view on the matter and embrace the concept.

Communicate openly and transparently

Communicating in a way that is consistent with your values is one of the strongest ways to get across your company values and purpose. In the case where difficult decisions have to be made, it could be one of the only ways to bridge the gap between your company and its employees. Communicating about what actions your businesses might have to take openly and transparently can say a lot about your company culture.

One company that has done an excellent job of this in the UK is Hawksmoor. While it was forced to lay off workers during the lockdown, its communication to customers expressed just how much importance it places on acting out of integrity and in the best interest of its workers. 

However your company decides to promote its culture at this time, the most important thing is to do so in a way that feels authentic and committed. Avoid taking action that doesn’t feel right or that you can’t follow through on. Find the ways, however small, to start making a difference and employees and candidates will take notice.

Looking to start recruiting post-pandemic? We’re a niche recruitment business, dedicated to helping companies who are innovating find the best talent in the R&D Tax, Technology, Innovation Incentives, and Corporate Governance space. Get in touch to discuss your project with us.  

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