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Nearly 80% of job seekers born between 1980 and 1995 look for a culture fit with prospective employers ahead of career potential, salary or benefits according to a study by Collegefeed.

Millennial employees yearn to work for a company whose values align with their own, a place where they can make a difference and have fun while doing it. Companies are seeing culture improvement as a means for attracting the attention of skilled job seekers, media and customers.

What is Company Culture?

Investopedia defines corporate culture as “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.” They go on to explain that a company’s culture is reflected in its “dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of customers/clients, and employee and customer/client satisfaction.”

While company culture can incorporate any number of things tangible and not, your culture is the personality of your organization. It defines how employees work, your values and ethics, your dedication to the community and industry, your expertise and thought leadership. Company culture is felt by everyone working in your office(s), by customers buying your products and services and by every other organization you work with.

Get the Free Guide: How to Set Up A Successful Employee Recognition Program

A good company culture reflects the mission of your organization and fosters a positive work environment where employees are productive and satisfied. Positive culture can serve as a recruitment tool, a sales promotion, a philanthropic mission and a vehicle for employee loyalty.

Employees Seek Work/Life Benefits More than Wage Increase

Today, companies are putting more effort into shaping company culture to reflect the needs of the growing number of employees who seek a balance between work life and home life.

In the past, employees have been driven by salary, but more and more, employees seek non-monetary benefits ahead of pay. In fact, a Citrix Canada study found that 45% of employees would give up a portion of their pay and benefits and/or decrease their working hours for the ability to work remotely.

Statistics Canada explains the trend for increased work life balance by examining the growing number of households with two working parents, a 36% increase in the last 40 years.

Working parents and Millennials hoping to start a family want to work for a company whose culture supports their desires to spend time with family, travel, volunteer and live a healthy life. Above all, employees seek flexible scheduling that allows them to work around soccer games, school award ceremonies and family emergencies. And, with the growth of remote communication systems for business, it’s entirely possible to manage a flexible team effectively.

Health and wellness also top the charts as employees, both men and women, seek time for daily exercise and healthy home cooking, training for personal fitness achievements such as marathons, and appointments with doctors, therapists and wellness coaches. The Institute for HealthCare Consumerism has found that investing in employee health and wellness results in a 28% decrease in employees calling in sick, a 30% reduction of workers’ compensation claims and a 25% decrease in health care costs.

Encourage employees to invest in their own health by making an effort to support their health in the workplace. You might offer healthy snacks, ample time to go out for a healthy lunch, standing desks, ergonomic desk chairs or in-office fitness classes to support healthy bodies and teambuilding activities, networking opportunities, a nap/meditation room or a dog friendly work environment to support healthy minds. Developing a healthy company culture will increase employee satisfaction, retention and prove a compelling recruitment benefit.

Other factors that enhance company culture include equity in the company, philanthropy, job stability, skill building and a more social workplace. Use your recognition program to shape company culture by encouraging communication and recognition for employees who contribute to improving your culture.

How Businesses Use Company Culture as a Competitive Advantage

In Silicon Valley, large tech companies like Google and Apple offer free transportation to and from work, healthy meal options made by hired chefs, childcare, gym equipment and more to encourage employees to see the workplace as a second home. As a result, employees generally look forward to work and happily promote the companies to their friends as a desirable place to work.

We’ve even seen start ups using radical recruitment benefits like improv classes, nap rooms, donations to an employee chosen charity, sabbatical, unlimited vacation days, tuition reimbursement, dog friendly workplace, and even free beer Fridays to attract talent.

Mission-driven organizations, whose values stir employees on an emotional level, report levels up to 30% higher in innovation and 40% higher in retention, reports Deloitte in Becoming Irrestistible.

Job seekers have proven they would rather make less money and work for a company they admire than make all the money in the world with a company they don’t respect. CEOs are now asking HR teams to shift culture in ways that have yet to be defined. This is an exciting time of change where it seems almost nothing is over the top.

Case Study: Asana

Asana, a company providing task and project management solutions for dispersed teams, made the decision to treat their company culture as a product requiring design, debugging, and adjustment before release.

Through employee surveys, one on one meetings, managers evaluate culture and solicit feedback for improvement. When an issue arises (they call them “culture bugs”), management is quick to address the problem and “squash” them to avoid glitches in culture. They go a step further and close down all operations each quarter for an entire week to evaluate their roadmap and readjust goals and processes for the future growth of the organization.

Upon hire, “new employees are given $10,000 to set up their own customized workspace” to ensure a comfortable work environment where employees will be happy to work long-term. They also provide a row of treadmill desks with a sweeping view of San Francisco, in-house yoga classes and a lounge for employees to relax and play games. They’ll even provide a life coach for employees looking to grow personally or professionally, an attractive benefit for recruiting young talent.

Treat Culture as a Product

“We have a culture of work hard, live well. Asana’s whole mission is to enable teams to work together more easily. We wanted to be the change that we want to see. Treating each other well, being respectful to each other, building a culture you actually want to live in, these are all things that make people happier, and in the end, more productive.” – Justin Rosenstein, Co-founder of Asana.

Because each organization is unique, developing your company culture always starts with employee feedback. Make conversations about culture a regular part of conversation, a standing item in meetings and the heart of each goal set. Ensure managers and employees alike feel comfortable sharing feedback and consider all suggestions equally. Your employee recognition system can be used to discuss culture, poll employees as to which change they’d like to see implemented first and for measuring culture change as you introduce new benefits.

Glassdoor reports 69% of job seekers are likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its brand so be sure to keep an updated and friendly public image. That includes keeping social media profiles and websites updated, actively responding to customer reviews and public transparency in your company culture.

It all boils down to one simple idea: Invest in your employees and they’ll invest in you.

Establish Processes for Company Flexibility in a Dynamic Work Environment

Now is the time to begin shifting your culture to attract and retain talent. Millennial employees are not afraid to job hop to find a good fit, which could cost you dearly if proper steps are not taken to grow culture and provide a better work/life balance.

Automate routine processes whenever possible, to redirect employees to challenging projects and skill development to increase employee satisfaction and build company loyalty. And don’t forget to shape your employee engagement and recognition programs to engage employees, encourage their career development and create a feedback culture.

Gallup found that “one in two employees have left a job to get away from a manager at some point in the career” in the State of the American Manager. To avoid turnover, managers should assume the role of coach, guiding employees’ growth in the organization and engage in two-way feedback on a daily basis. Your recognition tool will prove a valuable tool in keep the doors of communication open and encouraging culture growth.

Remember, company culture is a fluid thing that must be evaluated and adjusted often. Be sure to set time aside specifically for discussions of culture and never stop striving for improvement. Given a little time and effort, your company culture can drive recruitment of the best young talent, increase employee satisfaction and retain your employees for a long-term career.


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