Culture, culture, culture. Company culture is again hitting the headlines as the critical driver of employee attraction and retention in 2018.
According to a US study by Fidelity, Millennials are willing to sacrifice up to $7,600 (£5,600) for a job with a better work environment, with ‘culture factors’ such as work-life balance, meaningful work, sociable workplaces, and career development increasingly driving candidate decisions and engagement.
Which means that recruiters like you need to consider culture as one of your core focuses of the coming year.
Candidates will be asking about it. Clients will be telling you about it. Moreover, you should be learning about it.
Here are four steps to use company culture to your advantage as a recruiter in 2018.
Step 1: Learn about your client’s company culture.
Your first step is to sit down with the client and find out what the existing culture is- digging down into their highlights as well as some aspects that need to be improved. Impress upon them the importance of being honest.
Find out how the advertised culture impacts on the role in question. If one of the company values you have been told about is teamwork, does the company work hard to reinforce that? Is the open office plan, with great meeting rooms and a lovely lunch room where people chat and spend time? Will the person be required to engage in much teamwork, or is there a lot of room for autonomy in the role?
If another value you have been told about is transparency, ask for examples of how that plays out. Find out how their culture buzzwords translate into reality. Words are just words without real examples to back them up!
Reach out to people in your network who know about the company, such as ex-employees, to get a more unguarded viewpoint of what it is like to work there. Take a (cautious) look at review sites such as Glassdoor to ascertain any common culture pressure points such as a tendency towards micromanagement or authoritarian leadership.
Also look at public records of any history of sexual harassment or discrimination claims that could indicate a problematic culture.
When you have a broad view of culture, consider which of your candidate pool could be well suited to the culture dynamic you have discovered, and how you can portray the best of the culture to candidates while not being dishonest about the negatives.
Step 2: Find out what candidates are looking for in their expectations of culture
This will differ between candidates, and you should be asking specific questions of your candidates to find out which kinds of company cultures they personally thrive in.
It is also worth doing some more general research into cultural trends, and what types of organisational culture are attracting or deterring candidates.
It is worth thinking about generational differences here. Millennials will often be extremely interested in matters of culture, as they exhibit a strong preference for flatter hierarchies, quick career progression, constant learning, opportunities to travel, being valued, and a good work/life balance.
Step 3: Teach your candidates to learn about the culture for themselves.
You can only tell a candidate pardon you know, but it is essential to educate the candidate on how to find out about culture for themselves. Give them a guide on what questions might be useful in the interview to determine culture.
You can also point them towards other ways to discover the culture, such as Glassdoor reviews. However, teach them to be wary of believing everything they read as the preponderance of reviews will almost certainly be left by disgruntled ex-employees, as that is the way of review sites, unfortunately!
The point is, not helping them find out about culture only plays out poorly for you, them, the client in the long run. If the candidate quits after a month due to a culture mismatch, you won’t get your fee, they won’t think well of you for not telling them about the poor culture fit, and the client will be frustrated with you for not providing candidates that stay (even if it’s their culture that drove them away!) That’s what we call a lose-lose-lose scenario.
Step 4: Advise your client on culture matters.
You may need to advise your client about steps they could take to improve the culture in a way that top talent will respond well to.
The decision to improve culture must be taken within the company itself, as it is a huge step that must be ‘lived and breathed’ by senior management to make it work. However, that is not to say that as a recruiter you do not have a tremendously important role to play, by impressing on your clients what is driving candidate behaviour, and just how much culture factors into the decisions of top talent to accept or reject a job.
You can also suggest ways to improve their culture, from renovating the office, starting a work sports team, engaging in charity work, throwing a work party, or creating a new incentive scheme. These are just ‘band-aids’ though: the real work must come from within the company as they nut out the values and goals that matter to the company, and issue to its employees.
You can share your expertise in this regard, by revealing what you have learnt about the positive culture from your candidates and other clients.
Culture is vitally important, and in a candidate’s market, it can make the difference between a candidate accepting your client’s offer, and rejecting it outright. Your job is to know everything there is to know about the culture from both the candidate and client’s perspective, so you can match top candidates with a workplace culture that suits them, keeping all parties happy in the long run.
Until next time,