How to Create a Corporate Culture That Attracts (and Keeps) Top Talent

By Robert Half August 4, 2017 at 8:05pm

Even in today’s highly competitive hiring environment, many companies take the position that their corporate culture “is what it is” and expect workers to adapt to it. Unfortunately, that approach does nothing to engage employees, help them to be productive and make them feel like they never want to leave. In this month’s post, I offer tips for building a corporate environment that can help your business become a talent magnet. But first, let’s look at the latest jobs report data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to learn what’s happening in the market.

July saw solid job growth, with employers adding 209,000 positions. That marks 82 consecutive months of job gains. Updated figures for May and June show that 2,000 more jobs were added than originally reported by the BLS. The U.S. economy has gained nearly 1.3 million new positions in 2017. Since the beginning of the year, payrolls have increased by 184,000 per month, on average.

Professional and business services and healthcare were among the top sectors leading job growth last month. The BLS reports that these industries added 49,000 and 39,000 new positions in July, respectively. Healthcare has added 327,000 jobs over the past year.

The unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.3 percent in July, matching the 16-year low that was reached in May. The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers 25 and older, the professionals in highest demand, was unchanged at 2.4 percent. 

Meanwhile, after hitting a record high of 6 million at the end of April, the number of job openings has declined — but not by much. In mid-July, the BLS released its latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and reported that 5.7 million jobs were still waiting to be staffed as of the last business day in May.

Corporate culture drives job satisfaction — and vice versa

These two reports from the BLS indicate that, while many companies are expanding their payrolls, they may still be unable to hire the skilled workers they need. And this is on top of another problem — talented employees leaving to pursue new opportunities in this job seeker-friendly market.

One thing employers can do to address both issues is assess their corporate culture and determine whether it promotes job satisfaction. According to research by our company, this primarily means a workplace that offers the right balance of challenges and rewards.

It’s not enough for employers to offer competitive compensation and compelling benefits and perks. These things are very important. But they alone won’t make employees feel truly satisfied in their jobs — or compel them to stay with an employer for the long term. According to our research, professionals derive job satisfaction from less tangible things, including: 

  • Having pride in their organization  
  • Feeling appreciated  
  • Being treated with fairness and respect
  • Having a sense of accomplishment
  • Engaging in interesting and meaningful work
  • Building positive workplace relationships

Even though you can’t control every factor that contributes to your employees’ satisfaction at work, it is possible to create a workplace that allows positivity and productivity to flourish. Here are four tips for building that type of corporate environment:

1. Provide employees meaningful work

Talented people want to be in jobs that will make the best use of their abilities and give them a sense of accomplishment. Make sure that all your employees understand how their work impacts the firm’s bottom line. 

If possible, help them also see the connection between what they do and the company’s core mission and broader business goals. Staff meetings, performance reviews and regular check-ins all provide opportunities for managers to explain to employees how their contributions benefit the business.

2. Give workers opportunities to take on new challenges

If you learn everything there is to know about a job, and you aspire to keep growing as a professional, then why would you stay in your current work situation? You wouldn’t. 

That’s a hard lesson many employers have learned. Millennial workers, in particular, value continuous learning and are constantly looking to build new skills and tackle new challenges. Don’t let any talented person stagnate at your firm if you want them to stay. Build a corporate culture that emphasizes ongoing professional development for those who seek it.

3. Be proactive about discussing career paths

Another tough lesson is discovering valued employees who left the firm simply because they didn’t see an opportunity to advance in their career. Keep in mind that “up” might actually mean “different” — and not a supervisory role. For example, an employee might want more responsibility, like handling bigger projects or accounts, or to work in a different department. 

Take time to understand what each team member aspires to be or do in your organization and then help your employees set those plans in motion. Connecting staff with leadership training, cross-training and continuing education are just some ways to foster a work culture where people can reach their professional goals.

4. Help colleagues establish bonds

Workplace friendships are powerful things. Our research shows that when people like what they do and the people they work with, they’re more likely to stay with the company. In fact, in a recent survey by Robert Half, 62 percent of employees said having coworkers who are friends outside of the office positively affects productivity. 

Managers can play an important role in helping their employees build camaraderie. From team-building exercises to staff outings to mentoring arrangements, there are many ways to help your staff feel more connected to each other as well as to the firm. Encouraging employees to share success stories of how they worked together to solve problems or accomplished other things for the business — and giving them open praise for their achievements — will also help your workers feel like they’re part of a winning team.

It’s easy for employers to view corporate culture as a “fuzzy” thing that is less important to an employee’s job satisfaction than salary, benefits and perks. But the takeaway here is the strong correlation between a company’s corporate environment and the firm’s ability to attract and retain talent. And while corporate culture can be challenging for a business to define and shape, doing little or nothing to make your company a place where people want to work all but assures your failure to secure the talent you need.

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