Welcome back to our three-blog series on how to build a strong company culture as a modern staffing firm.
In part one we explored exactly what a strong company culture looks like, and why an organization should aim to cultivate such a culture. Now that we know the what and the why it’s time to move on to the how.
How do staffing and recruiting firms build a culture that delivers the cost savings, the productivity gains, and the increased levels of employee wellbeing that a good office culture can? To find out, we can take inspiration from the best: the organizations that consistently rank highly in terms of employee satisfaction and engagement.
How do these companies involve their workers in the development of culture? What core areas do they focus on? And how do they use technology to aid their quest?
Looking at and learning from the best, there are four key tenets that the most successful company cultures tend to be built around. So, in no particular order, let’s check them out.
1. Data and analysis
“There are only three metrics that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow.”
So said Jack Welch, the Chairman and CEO of General Electric for 20 years. And while his tenure ended in 2001, it’s notable that even then, he saw fit to name employee engagement first. Welch understood that classic business truism: your people are your most important asset.
The question for staffing and recruiting firms looking to develop their culture is simple: how engaged is your team?
Surveys are a great way to find that out, and to track engagement trends over time. Between the likes of SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, and Google Forms, there’s a wealth of super cheap tech that allows you to conduct and track internal surveys efficiently and effectively.
Employee NPS can be perhaps the most revealing company culture metric. It is built around a simple question: would your team recommend your workplace to other workers? You might even choose to take a more direct tack, and ask something like ‘How can we improve our company culture?’ By soliciting feedback and tracking trends over time, areas of improvement are quickly highlighted.
Sourcing and analyzing data from across the employee experience can also show you whether there’s a disconnect between what you intend your employee experience to be, and what the employee experience actually is. Asking simple questions can give you a great understanding of where you’re at, and where your areas of improvement might be:
- To candidates: What caught your attention about this job or our company?
- To new employees: Why did you choose to join our organization?
- To veteran workers: What aspects of our culture do you most enjoy?
- To those who leave (as part of an exit interview): What aspects of our culture do you feel we could improve?
The very act of sending out a survey can itself improve company culture, as it shows that you care about the happiness and engagement of your employees and that you want to know how you can do better.
2. Rewards and recognition
“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”
An early thought leader on employee engagement, Sybil F. Stershic neatly sums up the reason to care about your employees: their experience tends to inform your customers’ experience.
Ask yourself: do your employees feel valued? Are they recognized for good work? Is that recognition alluring enough to promote more good work? Go back a few decades, and you might’ve received a silk tie for 20 years of service, and if you’re lucky, a gold watch after 50. But these tokens weren’t exactly an incentive to work hard, they were simply a consequence of that hard work.
If you’re still measuring your reward and recognition timelines in decades, you’re decades out of date. Recognizing good work should be a regular occurrence – if you appreciate someone’s work, you need to make that appreciation known. There’s nothing more frustrating than pouring your heart and soul into what turns out to be a thankless task.
It’s also important to recognize people in the way that they want to be recognized. Some love public recognition – the big shout-out at the all-hands meeting – and others hate it. Knowing how to recognize good work is about gaining a deeper understanding of your workers.
Tech can streamline and even gamify the recognition process. A tool like Nectar, for example, allows for cross-company recognition, with shout-outs being converted to points that can be spent on Amazon items, digital gift cards, or any other reward a company chooses to build in.
Other companies, like Relativity, have taken a slightly different tack, converting recognition into charity dollars. High-performing employees are rewarded by seeing a cause or charity of their choice being supported, facilitated by a tool called Benevity. Instead of receiving the standard branded hat, t-shirt, and mug, Relativity employees can support the things they’re passionate about through their hard work. It’s a system that has really helped drive engagement at the company.
These solutions aren’t expensive, with an average price point of around $2-2.50/employee per month, making them accessible to the smallest of organizations.
3. Removing the busywork
“There comes a time when you ought to start doing what you want. Take a job that you love. You will jump out of bed in the morning.”
Luckily for Warren Buffett, the source of the quote above, the job that he loved was investing, which led him to serious riches. While staffing professionals are certainly driven by money – who isn’t? – there’s usually a reason they’ve chosen to make their living in our sector. Staffing is the most human of industries, and the best recruiters tend to be those who have a knack for building relationships, and who boast high-level soft skills.
This makes it all the more disappointing for a recruiter to sit down at their desk on their first day at a new job, and be met by a mountain of administrative work. They didn’t sign up to send and track onboarding papers like some sort of staffing robot – they signed up to connect employer with employee, worker with workplace.
Many of the companies most often cited as the best places to work ask their employees a simple question: Do you feel like you have the freedom to do what you want to be doing? Companies with employees who answer ‘yes’ tend to be those who use technology to automate the busywork, leaving workers to do the high-value and human things that they enjoy doing, and more importantly, that they were employed to do.
Able offers a prime example of how much time and fun can be reclaimed with the help of automation technology. A recruiter can put all the relevant onboarding paperwork in a digital packet, hitting ‘send’ whenever they have a candidate for that job. The candidate is then directed to a portal where they fill in all the necessary information. The recruiter doesn’t even need to follow up with the candidate – automated reminders are sent until the process is complete.
In the meantime, the recruiter can move onto the next candidate, build the next relationship, fill the next role, and track the progress of each candidate at a glance.
4. Health and wellness
“Good health is good business.”
Irish businessman Paul Dreschler understood that employees can only perform at their best when they feel at their best. The most engaged staffing employees tend to be those who feel as though their company is actively concerned about their wellbeing, beyond the decision to offer paid sick leave.
Staffing and recruiting firms are beginning to understand the link between a healthy team and a productive team, and looking at the workplaces generally cited as the best, there’s a noticeable focus on health and wellness.
Technology once again offers simple, affordable, and effective health and wellness solutions to staffing firms looking to enhance their employee experience. Calm and headspace now have corporate licenses which allow you to give anyone at your organization access to the meditation classes, breathing exercises, mindfulness training, and sleep assistance that these apps offer.
COVID-19 brought workplace health and wellness to the fore, in more ways than one. The isolation of remote work proved a challenge for many, with the distance also making it harder for an employer to check in with an employee in an organic way. This eventually led to many organizations taking more proactive care of their teams, in the hope that they could prevent issues before they occurred.
The connectedness of our modern world also makes it difficult to switch off, made worse by the fact that many employers expect their workers – explicitly or implicitly – to answer emails after hours. But it’s important to realize that people only have a limited supply of energy, which employers need to manage and use strategically.
The following tips can help to build a healthy and productive modern team, no matter whether they share an office or are scattered across the globe:
- Encourage team members to set work hour and workspace boundaries.
- Only schedule meetings when they’re truly warranted, and only invite those who truly need to be there. Consider using asynchronous collaboration instead.
- Encourage workers to say no to meetings that they know they don’t need to be involved in.
- Encourage workers to take breaks; to go for a walk, to grab a coffee, and to get away from the screen.
- Promote walking meetings to those who work from home – if they don’t need to be at their desk, join the conversation while you’re out for a stroll.
- Make a habit of turning cameras off in Zoom meetings where they’re not needed.
- Have a team dynamics call where you decide how your team will connect, the frequency and timing of connections, and whether you need cameras on. Discuss effective ways to build camaraderie remotely.
Leaders need to set the tone. You need to make it OK for your team to turn their camera off, to go for a walk, to switch their work phone off at 5 pm, to have the sound of kids and pets in the background of a Zoom call without feeling stressed. You need to show that productivity isn’t working flat out for 10 hours straight. Few people are capable of that. It’s about making the best use of your limited energy supply.
These four tenets form the pillars upon which a solid company culture is built. But once you’ve erected each of these, there’s a final step to be taken. You need to share what you’ve created with the world.
In the final piece of this series, we’ll be looking at the role of evangelism in spreading the good word about your company culture. Stay tuned.