Every organization has fundamental beliefs that are important to how they do business. A few companies make their values a public part of their branding, while others simply build internal operations around them.
Defining your values in the original business plan can provide an edge over competition. In time these guiding principles may be adjusted, but the spirit they embody becomes one of the foundations on which your company is built.
To sustain this culture, you have to focus not just on the most qualified candidates, but those who best fit with your culture. Employees who are a good fit are more likely to be engaged and productive, and more likely to stay with you for the long haul.
Who Are You?
Before employees believe in you, they must understand who you are and what is expected of them. You must establish what your objectives are and the set of values that will influence hiring, firing, and other staffing decisions.
Many companies make an effort to communicate their values through their branding. You can use both employee feedback through interviews, surveys, and focus groups to determine how well your company lives up to these values in their perception.
Organizations that are committed to these ideas will make their culture a starting point in the hiring process, from the wording of job postings to questions in the interview process, and as part of the orientation of new hires. Living up to these values is something to be expected of all employees going forward.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what your guiding principles are, you can’t support them consistently. Values that are merely slogans rather than expected behavior will have less meaning and less impact on employee retention strategies. If you’re struggling to find answers, consider a business mentoring program to discover more on building company culture.
Review all your recruitment materials to be sure they clearly convey who you are as a company. Your set of values should part of the first impression applicants get from interacting with your company. Be sure your company website and open job descriptions outline these values, and how they relate to employment.
Select the most qualified candidates, and then separate these candidates into two lists: those who seem like a good fit, and those who don’t. Here are some questions you should be asking:
- What type of business culture suits you best?
- What sort of values would you find in your ideal job?
- What makes you want to work here?
- How do you see our company culture? How would you be a good fit?
- What values have you learned in past employment, and how would that apply here?
- Describe a situation where you felt you weren’t a good fit, and why. What did you do about it?
New hires should be made to feel comfortable and part of the team as soon as possible. General introductions to team members and key players should be followed by orientations such as welcoming videos from the CEO and other principal figures, facility tours, and further discussions on job duties and company culture.
Your company likely has employee handbooks or employee resource websites, but most candidates will tend to skim over exhaustive textual information in the excitement of a new job. The hiring manager should ensure that critical points and ideas are discussed and understood.
The job description and requirements should be reviewed in detail. There should be emphasis not just on what kind of performance and obligations are expected, but how the new hire will go about achieving their objectives and relating to the team and culture.
For entrepreneurs just starting out, a business mentoring program can help establish a blueprint regarding collaboration, channels of communication, command chains, sharing credit, and expected behaviors under different circumstances.
It would also be prudent to make observations for all employees regarding their approach to company culture, and make it part of probationary or performance reviews. An employee that’s better engaged with the culture is more likely to be comfortable and productive.
Clarity is vital during the hiring process, and needs to be reinforced over time. Ensuring that your company principles are communicated, shared, and understood can be helped by reiterating:
- The company’s mission.
- Examples of behaviors that best embody the core principles.
- Key indicators that both define success and distinguish your company from the competition.
- Your company’s current priorities or initiatives, and how employees can take part in them.
Recruiting and training new employees takes time. Sound employee retention strategies are important to maintaining efficiency. Employees must feel valued as indiivduals as well as part of the company culture. Staff will feel greater engagement and loyalty with your company.
Recognition is important. Offering small incentives or rewards such as a day off or a gift certificate costs little considering it may inspire employees to work harder or improve quality. The recognition that comes with incentives gives employees a better sense of self-worth and helps them to understand that you appreciate extra effort rather than take it for granted.
Work-life balance is also important to employees. More flexibility in scheduling, and more concern for family or medical issues, shows your employees you care. Taking the time to connect with employees on a personal level gives them emotional involvement. They begin to feel that they aren’t merely collecting a paycheck, but functioning as part of a close-knit organization that cares about its staff as well as its mission.
Culture and Strategy
Employees that understand and exemplify company culture are valuable employees. Teaching them to align with your company’s principles in the performance of their jobs is important to collaboration, productivity, and more efficient operations. Retention of employees who live up to these ideals should be an important part of business strategy. That begins with defining and communicating your guiding principles.