Company culture is to recruiting what product is to marketing.
If you have a fantastic product, it’s easier to attract customers, and likewise, if you have a great company culture, it’s much easier to attract and retain top talent.
Culture is what happens when you get a group of people together. All companies have a culture, even if they haven’t actively decided to create one. Your culture can be defined as the beliefs, values and practices you hold as an organisation, and those things exist whether you’ve just let them form naturally, or whether you’ve been deliberate about defining them.
It defines a business and has a direct impact on financial performance. Case in point; recent transgressions unearthed by the Financial Services Royal Commision have thrust the concept of company culture firmly into the limelight.
The financial toll has been heavy on the big four – Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB – having seen tens of billions of dollars of value evaporate as shares slid in the wake of misleading conduct revelations.
The discussion around culture has now evolved from something that “just happens” to something that must be carefully and critically considered. We no longer live and work in the same way we used to ten years ago, yet in 2018, many businesses still don’t have cultures that meet the basic needs or expectations of a modern employee.
It’s no longer good enough for businesses to pay lip service to cultivating a culture that attracts the best talent and empowers them to do their best work.
They need to walk the walk.
It should be a critical component of any business strategy.
Here are four ways that company culture can boost your bottom line:
1. Attracts and retains talent
Competition for talent is high and a desirable culture will help you attract the best employees and keep them for longer.
In fact, in a recent survey we conducted, 48% of workers indicated that they would happily take a pay cut as a trade for better workplace culture. And that’s not to say you should be slashing salaries because you have a great culture.
Paying your employees well should be part of your culture if you want them to stick around and genuinely care about contributing to the growth of your company.
2. Attracts customers
Your culture is felt by your customers via your employees. That’s your customer service teams, your marketing materials and anything else that makes contact with the outside world — everyone you interact with gets a sense of your beliefs and values, so make sure you’ve been thoughtful about them.
The better the experience a customer, prospect or candidate has with your company, the better it is for your bottom line, so be cognisant that your culture permeates everything you do.
3. Helps your employees make good decisions
It’s often said that if you want to understand something about someone’s values, pay attention to the key decisions they make and the actions they take.
It is those which define them. When everybody understands your values, it guides consistent decision making throughout your business when the ‘right’ choice isn’t obvious.
4. Helps raise your public profile
An interesting culture is intriguing and raises awareness beyond your product, both amongst prospective employees and prospective customers.
It’s what makes you lovable. Bean bags and beer fridges may be a nice perk, but that’s not indicative of a good culture.
Your mission, your team and your values should be the thing people remember you for, not the promise of ‘Taco Tuesdays’.
So what measures can you introduce to ensure that culture is thriving? Survey your employees on a regular basis to gauge how they’re feeling and identify what’s working and what isn’t. Unlike traditional employee engagement surveys, conduct them quarterly so you can take on feedback and adjust accordingly.
Ensure that it’s kept as anonymous as possible and the results and raw comments are shared across the entire organisation for greater transparency.
Think about how you can introduce a company manifesto or culture guide to ensure everyone is familiar with your shared values and working towards the same goals. It should outline the vision for your business and should be the reason employees get out of bed each day.
It’s shouldn’t be treated as merely a document but a living, breathing commitment to your employees, candidates and customers. At HubSpot we’ve created our own handbook, “The Culture Code“, and we’ve found that this is a top reason candidates want to work for us.
By defining our company values – such as empathy and humility – and being clear about what we stand for as a collective, we’ve been able to attract candidates with like-minded values .
Just like software, the guide should be open to iterations and should never be considered as complete. As your business evolves, so do your values, and that’s ok as long as you’re communicating that with your teams.
Culture should be a priority for all businesses, not an afterthought.
Prioritising culture will directly impact the growth of your business and the growth of your teams. And remember, culture shouldn’t be deemed the responsibility of one person that sits on a HR or recruiting team.
It’s everyone’s responsibility and everyone has a role to play in creating and maintaining it.
James Gilbert is the director at HubSpot APAC.
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