The importance of perfecting culture to attract talent

It is now more important than ever for employers to show that their workplace culture meets the needs and desires of sought-after talent. A veneer won’t do.

This is why you hear so much about company culture presently. If a workplace and its foundations are not authentic reflections of great ethics and business practices, people sense that insincerity.

Even if candidates are lured in by a positive message, promises that aren’t kept won’t serve to motivate and retain serious workers. And, given that tenures are becoming shorter, this devalues the investment that companies make in the people they hire

What needs to change in HR?

Indeed, an effective integrated structure works both ways: as the percentage of contingent workers grows and tenure of employees decreases, companies must ensure they are agile enough to get the most out of workers in the time they are associated with them. 

Does this mean that the HR emphasis on worker retention needs to be reevaluated? Not really. It need only be adjusted to take into account the new time frame under which employers are operating. For contingent workers who may only be with an organization for a short while, the old model of getting ROI over a long period just doesn’t work anymore—either for those who hire or those who work for them. Even when appealing to so-called permanent employees, who also aren’t staying as long as they used to, both sides need ways to get that ROI far more quickly than in the past.

Perfect your company culture

Good culture is one vehicle for that. You’ll find myriad books and other resources about how to create, maintain and improve the type of culture that employees crave. Instituting these things costs little but does require dedicated time and perseverance. Trying to cobble together the “look” of culture via flashy perks like living-room seating and free lunches isn’t enough. A nurturing culture must be a genuine product and extension of a company’s values and vision.

  1. Please don’t fall into the trap of sending the suits away for a long weekend retreat and coming back with inspirational quotes to post on the office walls! 
  2. Instead of relying on workplace trappings, focus on the company’s story and build on its strengths. 
  3. Locate what is unique to a business and instil a search for like-minded individuals in the hiring process. This builds culture through people and past history; it creates a sense of permanence in an impermanent world. 
  4. Another important hallmark of an attractive return on investment for workers is a thoughtful workflow and workforce design, making it easy for your team to achieve the goals you set for them takes a little thought and ingenuity. 
  5. Getting feedback from employees may be the most valuable intelligence of all. Let them answer: What can we do to make your work experience easier? More enjoyable? More meaningful? Or “How easy do we make it for you to do great work?” 

These are the questions we need to be asking, and our response must come in the form of action. Streamline protocols. Increase avenues of acknowledgement. Let your team members know that your purpose is as important to the organization as market share or profits.

Integrating workforce design

And we must mean it. Today’s workers are some of the most discerning consumers out there. They have power, and they have choices. So, to leverage our employer brand, we must optimize how we get work done and by whom. Workforce planning, or more precisely, workforce design, must arrive at the most efficient and effective track. It becomes a part of great culture, both accommodating and driving it. These things are no longer “nice to have.” They are essential.

To appeal to workers and move a business forward, I believe companies must adopt a holistic approach to how work is performed. They must identify which core skills and roles they need within their organizations to make them who they are. In what positions can you hire “permanent” workers? Which positions, by the very nature of the skill set required, will best be filled by contractors, consultants, or even machines? When we ask, answer, and act upon these questions, we help to solidify our company culture and gain a competitive advantage.

Bruce Morton is a Workforce Design and Talent Acquisition Expert. His new book Redesigning the Way Work Works is available on Amazon. 

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