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How your working culture can help you attract top talent

Never before has a company’s culture and values been so central to its fortunes. Culture is arguably the biggest driver of employer brand and therefore is crucial to attracting the best (and the right) people.

It’s equally important to employee engagement and retaining your most talented people too. We consider what top-performing companies such as Starbucks and PwC are doing to attract new talent.

Culture as a top 3 business priority

Given the impact of working culture on business prosperity, it is little wonder that culture change has risen up business leaders’ to-do lists. According to Deloitte’s latest research, culture is the third highest HR priority for businesses.

But what do companies need to do to ensure their culture is helping them to attract and engage the right people? And how should they communicate this?

It’s not about turning a storeroom into a games room or offering employees free fruit or drinks. These are perks and, while welcome, the culture is so much more than this. Essentially it is a reflection of the company’s values and what it stands for.

Learning from ‘destination employers’

So-called ‘destination employers’ such as Google and Apple know the power of culture better than most. It’s certainly one of the things that sets them apart from other employers. But what do they do differently?

There’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy for employers and, even among tech giants like those mentioned above and others like Amazon and Facebook, there are significant differences in people strategy and HR practices. Having said this, in looking at how top-performing companies go about attracting talent, there are also come common themes too.

The most significant as far as attracting talent is concerned is the role played by existing employees. Top-performing companies recognise the value of a happy, engaged and fulfilled team of people. This, naturally, creates lots of employee advocates who, in turn, help to build a strong and positive employer brand.

We found three great examples of how top businesses are counting on existing employees to communicate their culture and attract new talent:

1. PwC – get to know your future colleagues and the working culture

PwC uses its careers portal to highlight a host of employee stories. Rather than telling prospective recruits all about the company on an ‘about us’ page, PwC instead puts the focus squarely on its people by sharing a series of photos, biographies and Q&As.

Enabling people to learn about the company and its culture through the words of employees (rather than management or corporate speak) is infinitely more powerful. This provides a much more rounded view of what’s like to work at the company. You also get a picture of the profile of people you might be working with.

2. Starbucks – foster a culture of total transparency

Starbucks makes great use of social channels to promote its transparent culture. They encourage current employees, whom they refer to as “partners”, to join a conversation on Twitter or Instagram (#sbuxjobschat). Here they invite potential new recruits to interact and ask questions that existing partners will answer thus offering a very real insight into the culture and what it’s like to work for Starbucks.

This approach is both novel and very powerful. It implicitly conveys the openness of the working culture at Starbucks and shows that they genuinely trust and empower employees. This is fundamental to the strength of its employer brand.

3. Zappos – empower employees to shape the culture themselves

Employees will naturally play a part in the formation or change of the culture in any organisation. However, at US-based online footwear retailer Zappos, this is taken a step further.

Zappos’ renowned culture is all about encouraging employees to express themselves, to be creative and to have fun at work. This is underpinned by the company’s fundamental belief that they can only deliver exceptional customer service if they first create and foster a great and empowering working culture.

This offers a further example of the blurring of lines between marketing to consumers and marketing to prospective employees. Zappos recognises the power of having employees tell the story of how great their business is by fostering a culture that employees want to be part of and share stories about. Creating an empowered team of people that are willing to do this will not only help you attract more of the right people to join your business, it’ll also help your bottom line too.

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