How Company Culture Can Attract & Retain Your Best Talent

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Warehouse Workers SmilingCEOs like Tony Hseih of Zappos or Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines understand that a strong culture is key to building the best possible team. Part of building a strong culture comes from understanding how companies are moving in new directions in terms of how they work on a daily basis, and as always, it involves learning from your employees and understanding their needs and attitudes. There are a few major areas to focus on when building a company culture:

If you’re in a leadership role, touch base with your strongest employees often.

For companies that are smaller or are beginning to scale, it is especially critical to keep your most loyal and talented team members engaged. Show them that you value their input when it comes to important decisions around strategy, hiring, and other areas – and be sure to schedule coffee meetings our brief syncs that prove you’re invested in them personally and professionally. Losing engagement from key team members often results in the loss of more than one employee.

Promote a culture that exemplifies work-life integration, not work-life balance.

Thanks to technology, the typical work week has dramatically changed from a more traditional 9-5 schedule to a “constantly connected” schedule. Employers must respond to this change and adjust expectations in order to keep employees happy. Enabling a “trust” environment in which employees have more flexible paid time off often shows your team that your culture is about mutual respect and getting work done – but with the understanding that this might not always happen within the 9-5 time frame.

Infuse your company values early on – and stick to them.

David Cohen says, “Building your culture means acting based on the values and priorities you want to promote. It’s a reflection of you, and while you can be conscious of it, you must try to be yourself, or your culture will not be genuine.” If your company has a strong set of values, it’s more likely that the culture will reflect these values and draw in strong talent who shares the same values. In today’s workforce, companies are displaying a new type of transparency – and with this, employees expect that their company is committed to their values, and that this part of the culture extends into the public sphere as well.

Let employee trust become opportunity and ownership.

By instilling a trust culture, employees naturally gravitate towards behavior that exhibits more ownership. Displaying the proper level of “hands-off” leadership will create room for your employees to become more engaged – and more engaged employees work harder and boost culture like nothing else can.

Always “hire slow, fire fast.”

One of the quickest ways to destroy a company culture is by bringing the wrong person(s) onto the team – and letting them stay for too long. Luckily, it’s often clear fairly early on when there is a poor culture fit with an employee. It’s important to express any misalignment and “fire fast” when this becomes clear. More importantly, spend a great deal of thought on each candidate before hiring anyone. Seek out trusted resources that will help you ensure a strong culture fit before you bring on a new team member.

Contributor

Claire Topalian is a writer, non-profit Communications professional, and advocate for diversity in business. She currently leads Communications and the Startup Women initiative at UP Global, an international non-profit that builds startup communities through educational programs and events. You can follow her on Twitter @clairetopalian.

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