Do you need to attract talent? Dawn Smedley says it is all about using the power of your culture throughout the employee lifecycle.
Few HR leaders would disagree that workplace culture is key to organisational success, but its vital role in recruiting the right people may not be fully appreciated. In fact culture is the most effective lever at attracting talent – more so than offering higher salaries and career advancement opportunities.
Recruiting and retaining high performers is a constant battle, so how can organisations make impactful changes to their culture? To nurture an exceptional employee experience, the culture at every stage of the employee lifecycle must be reviewed and improved.
Get the building blocks right
It’s no secret that if you don’t have an inspirational vision and purpose, the building blocks of creating a great culture just aren’t there. Employees want to know their contributions mean something above and beyond lining shareholders’ pockets. More than ever, they want to work for companies that clearly articulate their reason for being. Doing this well is how to stand out in a crowded marketplace, and the first step to creating a culture that everyone actively wants to be a part of.
Company values must also align with organisational purpose, with values and expected behaviours clear to all. These values must be lived and breathed rather than stapled to the boardroom wall and forgotten about. This means ensuring everyone is accountable for aligning with the organisational values, and managers are encouraged to reinforce them daily – for example by starting every meeting with a recent ‘moment’ relating to the company’s values to reinforce their importance.
To nurture an exceptional employee experience, the culture at every stage of the employee lifecycle must be reviewed and improved
Examine the whole employee experience
With these key elements in place, it’s important to assess employees’ experiences at every stage of the employee lifecycle.
Are you highlighting the best of the company and its culture to attract the best candidates? Do you have a strong, intentional employer brand and employee value proposition (EVP)? Encourage current employees to authentically share their experiences through social media, so potential employees gain an insight into what it’s like to work for you. Their stories will resonate far more than carefully curated ‘adverts’.
What is the current candidate experience and is it fair and transparent? Does the recruitment process produce the best employees for the roles advertised? Putting yourself in the candidate’s position is crucial here, understanding every step in the process and the experiences of those both successful and unsuccessful. Dissecting these experiences will highlight areas for improvement – from whether interviewers need to be better trained, through to whether the candidate’s expectations of the role and company are accurate.
How do you enable and empower new starters to deliver, and are you providing them with the tools and skills to do a great job? Plus, how do you give them a sense of belonging early-on, making them feel welcome and valued? Organisations can’t force engagement, it’s a choice, and so from day one they must create an environment where their people feel they belong and choose to contribute to the company’s success.
Leaders must also recognise that any promises made at the recruitment stage must start to be fulfilled at the onboarding stage, otherwise new hires may feel as though they’ve been ‘sold a lie’.
Development and performance
Does the organisation offer development opportunities, career paths and personal growth? And do leaders ensure all employees are supported and able to perform at their best? Inclusivity is crucial here and advancement opportunities must be offered to all. It may also be necessary to teach managers how to avoid unintentional discrimination and favouritism (including bias towards in-office employees), so that everyone is on a level playing field.
How do you manage, support and celebrate employees, from personal events such as illnesses and becoming a parent, through to professional events such as promotions and career milestones? These are the moments that matter in an employee’s life, and it’s crucial the organisation recognises and supports them. Failure to do so is a huge red flag, leaving employees feeling undervalued and cast adrift.
Why do employees leave? Understanding why employees are leaving the company is key to addressing issues and reducing staff attrition. The offboarding process must also provide a positive experience to help create alumni who speak positively about the company and may even return at a later date.
Creating a culture of attraction
There are many moments that matter in the employee journey, and each impacts how people engage with their organisations. By paying attention to these key moments and finding ways to improve them for all employees – from recruitment right through to exit – companies will power their culture, creating workplaces that are desirable to join and difficult to leave.
Dawn Smedley is head of culture at WorkBuzz