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Corporate Culture—An Often Undervalued Recruitment and Retention Tool

by | Nov 12, 2015 | Access to Talent

The phrase “Our people are our greatest asset” has been uttered across nearly every industry, technology included, so often that it may ring hollow, if not cliché.  However, as many People Managers and Talent Executives are already aware, it’s a phrase repeated with good reason. Only through the talent and determination of their employees can a company serve and meet the needs of their clients in a satisfactory and consistent basis. 

Recruitment and retention is a continuous challenge within the millennial generation—especially here in Massachusetts—where—on average—a millennial may hold a dozen different jobs before the age of thirty and is perhaps even more acute in the high tech industry, where the employee turnover rate among Fortune 500 companies in the IT industry was the highest among all industries recently surveyed.

As the U.S. economy shows consistent signs of strengthening, attracting and holding onto high quality talent in the high tech field is once again tightening and heating up. Increasingly, tech leaders are reexamining their corporate culture, determining how their organizations can stand out amongst growing competition, whether it’s showing your businesses firm commitment to a work life balance through perks and programs, offering a wide array of health and wellness options, or upholding a flexible schedule.

Corporate Culture

Given the competitive nature of retaining high tech talent, it’s key that Massachusetts-based companies leverage every arrow in their quiver—including those most valuable to workers—like corporate culture.

So, how can corporate culture impact the challenge of recruiting and retaining talent in high tech?  To start, it’s important to know exactly what corporate culture is. Loosely defined, corporate culture is “the pervasive values, beliefs and attitudes that characterize a company and guide its practices.”

According to a report by Harvard Business Review, corporate culture is what “guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems.” 

To build a career with one company for any extended period of time, an employee must feel a strong connection with their employer’s culture and belief system.  When you have employees that closely identify with your company’s core values, you have employees willing to go beyond their job description to achieve success.

Although this may seem to be an elusive or intangible component of the workplace, difficult to put into action, in fact, corporate culture is very much in our control, says Kronos CEO Aron Ain. Ain recognizes that many employers face talent and cost challenges over which they have only limited control, and expresses his amazement that more employers fail to focus their time and resources on factors within their control, like corporate culture, that can be a key driver of a successful talent acquisition and retention strategy.   

Kronos, a workforce management solution company  based in Chelmsford, MA, is one of the state of Massachusetts’ most honored employers, having been recognized by Forbes Magazine, the Boston Globe and Boston Business Journal as a best place to work for employees.   “We see employee talent as an asset, a differentiator and even a competitive weapon,” said Ain. 

How can corporate culture help technology-focused businesses meet their talent recruitment and retention objectives?

Here are a few guidelines to consider when executing a successful corporate culture.

Employee Buy In

One of the best strategies in getting employees to buy into your corporate culture is to provide opportunities for periodic, regular input from all levels of your staff.  The traditional, cascaded down from top to bottom approach, no matter how fun the initiative may appear on paper, will not play out effectively if employees are not taking part in the conceptual process.   

For example, in addition to serving as the EVP of Digital at MHTC, I head up a boutique content marketing agency in Boston, MESH Interactive. Since our schedule is so crazy, we schedule extracurricular events in and around the city at regular 8 to 10 week intervals. And to keep it relevant, we have people from every department take a hand in planning—that way everyone feels involved.

High levels of colleague participation and engagement in workplace practices are even more essential when a company is experiencing significant people growth – which is also when core company values are most vulnerable for being abandoned. 

Do Your Research

“Just as a company should do when launching a product, we take a data-driven approach to evaluate and discover employee needs, and then effectively and efficiently answer those needs”, writes Tarun Nimmagadda, founder and Co-CEO at Mutual Mobile.   

It’s great to breathe new life into your workplace by implementing new trends, however, if they are not producing the desired results, it’s appropriate to tweak and tailor them to fit your specific work environment and staff.   

For example, if you’ve introduced Friday afternoon board games as a way to encourage teamwork across departments and turnout is low, don’t be afraid to switch up.  Perhaps an activity that involves standing and more informal conversations, such as pool may be in order.  Continue to solicit staff feedback to find out what works.

Forward Thinking

High tech careers are about the future, about technology’s footprint and ultimate improvement on whatever lies ahead.  Your corporate culture should reflect this core understanding by focusing on what the future holds for your employees.   

Company officers and executives should remain open to – and encourage – staff suggestions and ideas that promote a better future for their workplace environment.  Green initiatives, designated time off for charity work, and innovation contests are all forward thinking perks that can be done on a modest budget.

Celebrate Your Wins

When you see your corporate culture affecting change for the better, celebrate!  Everyone loves a success story, they’re contagious. While companies the size of Google may invests millions of dollars a year into offices and culture, it’s possible for smaller companies to create a unique company culture as well. 

Establishing moderate yet memorable celebrations that reinforce behaviors that align with your company’s vision can be done through a variety channels, including informal “town hall” style meetings, unanticipated video or social media posts, or a recurring spot on the company Intranet.

Why should corporate culture carry so much weight when it comes to attracting and keeping the right employees?  “The team that puts the best talent on the field, and keeps it there, wins.” states David Almeda, Chief People Officer of Kronos. If the idiom, “our people are our greatest asset”, is accurate, we must also remember the opposite, “the wrong people are our greatest liability.’

Are in you a high tech career AND enjoying a great corporate culture?  Let us know, we’d love to hear what’s making the technology talents happy.