According to research from the Robert Walters Group, 90% of employers state that it is vital that new recruits fit within the culture of their enterprises, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of professionals leaving their employer because of a poor cultural fit. As the skills gap widens and the ‘great resignation’ gains place even more pressure on businesses to retain and locate the people they need, assessing the culture across your company is critical.
“It is crucial that employers recognise which aspects of company culture are most important to their employees and focus their efforts accordingly,” the report concludes. “By developing strategies to deliver on the needs of candidates in terms of company culture, employers can attract and retain professionals who are a good fit for the organisation and will deliver results.”
Speaking to Silicon UK, David Stone, CEO of MRL Consulting Group, says: “If the stereotypical boiler room culture of companies isn’t already outdated for a lot of 21st century business owners, the great resignation will certainly be the final nail in its coffin. Employees don’t want it, and employers have seen the return on investment of treating their staff fairly for years now. The 4-day week we introduced back in 2019 helped to solidify our culture here at MRL, and the impact it’s had on our culture is clear to see; retention has never been better, and the mental health, wellbeing, and productivity of everyone has done nothing but improve.”
Stuart Day, managing director of GR4, takes a slightly different approach with his advice: “Working in recruitment, hiring for ‘cultural fit’ is oddly one of the things I feel quite strongly that organisations should not be doing. That’s exactly how you end up with a group of people who think, look and act the same, which prevents innovation and creative thinking.”
Day continued: “So instead, with my clients, I’m always looking for culture add – what can that person bring to the team that wasn’t there before? What new perspectives can they offer? As the saying goes – if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. Yes, you want people who share your vision and passion, but organisations that are really looking futureproof their offering and expand beyond their existing boundaries need to be looking at how they can do recruitment differently.”
Culture, though, is not a universal fit and not something that is the same for every worker. Also, how culture manifests can be quite different for every employee. For example, World Wide Technology (WWT) ask behavioural-based questions to explore the candidates’ ethics and ideals to see how they would conduct themselves in various situations. This helps to determine whether the applicants will be an excellent cultural fit within the specific team and the organisation.
Finding the right people for a business has always been challenging. Today, however, several additional factors need to be considered: The shift to mass remote working. Workers’ re-evaluation of their jobs and, indeed, their entire working lives; and how work supports their drive for better health and wellbeing all impact today’s job market.
In their report, LinkedIn state: “Companies are finding more and more ways to demonstrate care and compassion for their workforces, including giving time back, with everything from half-day Fridays to shutdown weeks; offering wellbeing services, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs) and backup caregiving options; and rethinking processes by, say, shortening or eliminating meetings and better leveraging asynchronous communications like email or chat.”
The IRIS Software Group also discovered that nearly half (47%) of employees don’t see a clear progression path. The study further found that three-quarters (68%) of UK employees face delayed career growth due to a lack of support from their line managers and HR teams.
Stephanie Kelly, Chief People Officer at IRIS, comments, “There is no question that employees are in the driving seat at the moment. They are frustrated over the years they lost due to the pandemic and are excited to catch up with their career growth. However, not only is it evident that there is sometimes a lack of transparency between managers and their teams over career goals, but it’s clear that current HR tools and systems are not built to best manage and support employee progression. Workers today want purpose and meaning from their work and a clear timeline of what’s next for them in the workplace – and rightly so. For employers, there’s nowhere to hide.”
The impact that the skills shortage is having can’t be ignored. The Open University’s Business Barometer 2022 found that over three-quarters (78%) of organisations are seeing the reduced output, profitability, or growth due to the impact of the current skills shortages. A lack of upskilling is a key reason why – 70% of professionals currently upskill for less than an hour a week, according to a recent DMA poll.
David Stone concluded: “If you run a company or work in HR and you’re struggling to hire, then I will tell you you’re not alone. I’ve been in recruitment for almost 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen so many jobs and so few candidates. For companies to really stand out on top, you must have your hiring process down to a fine art, be competitive with what you can offer as a salary, and make sure that your company’s workplace culture is reflective of what candidates currently want.”
And creating a thriving culture across a business can deliver a competitive edge according to PwC’s Global Cultural Survey, which concludes that 81% of respondents who strongly believe their organisation was able to adapt during the
Twelve months before our survey was conducted also said their culture has been a source of competitive advantage.
“Cultural fit is key,” advises Andy Heyes, UK South Managing Director, Harvey Nash. “If there’s no fit, people won’t be able to give the best of themselves and they’re unlikely to stay long either. This means that assessing cultural fit is a really important recruitment criteria. In the hybrid world, it’s become even more important that individuals have a certain level of maturity, focus and self-discipline. They need to be able to pick things up quickly. In a sense, it’s about hiring for attitude. There’s obviously a lot you can teach someone in terms of technical knowledge through training and support, but you need people with the right mindset in the first place so that they’ll fit into your culture and be able to develop and thrive.”
The connection between your company’s culture and its ability to retain and hire new staff is symbiotic. However, culture is not the only factor in play here: Don’t become blinkered by focusing on cultural development to the detriment of other aspects of your business. A balance has to be struck. The right culture is clearly a factor in the jobs market when workers want to make a change. Understanding these drivers will ensure your business can mitigate the skills gap and combat the great resignation.
Sheri Brissenden, Partner at The Frameworks.
Sheri is in charge of making sure everyone’s happy. She takes overall responsibility for the agency’s global HR function, ensuring every Frameworker is empowered, motivated and fulfilled in what they do. An experienced Fortune 100 communications and marketing leader, Sheri has spent 30 years in a career almost equally divided between client and agency work. She has held senior marketing roles at IBM and Lanier Worldwide (now part of RICOH), CNN and Coca-Cola and, for the past 14 years, she’s been a partner at The Frameworks.
Is changing the culture within a business a way to stop the great resignation?
“Taking a hard look at your culture and the individuals in your business should always be top of mind, but it’s easy for the genuine needs of profits and clients to take all the focus. Your employees should be at least as important to you as your customers. One way to stop the “great resignation” is to see your business as a new hire would, with a fresh perspective.
“Use the last few years to be as objective as possible about your work and your place in building the best company – and be honest about whether entrenched ways of working have lost their meaning. New hires are a great source of information and guidance, so asking them about their needs and how you can improve the business is an excellent opportunity to make the kind of changes that stop others from moving on. It also gives your newest employees a voice, which is always good practice.”
Do businesses understand their culture and how this can impact their ability to recruit the people they need?
“Many successful companies understand how culture impacts their ability to recruit the people they need. However, after the last two years, I think there’s a sense of exhaustion and destabilisation. We’ve had to completely change our way of working, and there’s been so much we’ve had to focus on that it’s easy to overlook culture and how essential it is. So, leadership needs to keep this top of mind. We should constantly question ourselves and ask if we are doing enough. We should always focus on being pre-emptive about providing the best workplace and permitting hiring managers to meet new candidates where they are.”
How much of a differentiator is company culture in the job marketplace today?
“The best candidates – the ones you’ll wade through 1,000s of CVs for – can go wherever they want, especially now. They don’t just want a job; they want the whole picture as they envision it, and this is an individual decision. You can’t build a new culture in a day or achieve one that meets every possible particular need; but you can work with leadership to define the culture and be a consistent voice in enhancing it.
“Good management comes down to listening and generosity. It can mean everything; most of the time, it costs nothing. The costs lie in being distracted, which is even more accessible in a hybrid or remote working environment. So, you must question yourself consistently: is this the best company I can build? Have I created something I would be happy to be a part of at every level? What am I missing?”
How can recruiters communicate business culture to prospective new employees? Are HRs equipped to include ‘culture’ in their recruiting processes?
“Communicating culture is arguably the most important aspect of interviews with prospective employees. There’s so much detail in a candidate’s cover letter, LinkedIn, CV, online presence, and portfolio that you should have a very good sense of the person and their abilities by the time you arrange that first meeting. You really shouldn’t waste the first meeting rehashing those details. Instead, you should focus on learning about the person sitting in front of you: who they are, what their hopes and aspirations are for their future and, from your perspective, communicate what works for you will be like.
“The initial interviews should be focused entirely on the candidate and have the most critical voice in the conversation. But it’s important never to forget that you, as an interviewer, are also being assessed by the candidate, so leave them with the best possible impression of what you and the company can offer them. I always feel a first interview is best served as an open-ended conversation. I’ve never used prepared questions, and I think letting the conversation seek its own level is essential.
“The question HR should ask itself is: do I see this person as the next great colleague for the team? The team is the company’s culture, and you can strengthen it or weaken it with your next hire. Will the potential new hire be happy here, and will the team be more powerful because of them? Seeing them in the round, instead of on their own, gets to the heart of the matter.
“Reaching out in a remote working or hybrid model becomes a defining factor. If someone is sitting in an office with regular interaction, it’s much easier to invite them into a culture and for them to find their feet. However, if everyone works remotely, even part-time, it becomes really important that connections are made, and this needs to be intentional.
“Everyone needs to reach out to new hires and ensure they are included, not just in work but in the company’s life. Without this considered approach, the culture will eventually fray, so just scheduling regular catch-ups becomes important. In our business, the work we do is very cerebral and demanding, so giving employees who might be working non-stop a break is essential. Just even a short time to reset, talk about what they’re doing and invite them to discuss anything on their mind is significant.”
As businesses look towards their post-pandemic futures, how critical is it for them to hire for cultural fit?
“Hiring for cultural fit has always been essential. But as we look towards a post-pandemic future, we should use this crisis to help us understand what is most important. Being in the office full-time was the measurement, but we know now that it isn’t essential. So, we have to ask ourselves: what is? What makes us a company? We’ve always had trust as key to the relationship between employees and businesses, but in a post-pandemic future, showing your trust needs to be tangible.
“Employees need to see your trust to feel secure in their work, and leadership needs to believe that what employees do is much more important than where they do it. For some old-school managers, this requires a leap of faith. But it’s a leap worth making if you want to attract and hold on to the very best employees, which is another way of saying: it’s a leap worth making if you want to stay in business.”