How to develop a company culture that converts

Employer branding, company culture, employee value proposition – it goes by many names, but however you define it, setting your business as a great place to work in the eyes of employees, clients, stakeholders and competitors has never been more paramount.

It not only attracts and retains top-notch talent, but contributes hugely to your company’s reputation as a whole, adding big bucks to your brand equity.

But so many employers are still getting it wrong.

As the term ‘brand’ gets thrown around boardrooms across the globe, it’s integrity continues to be watered down, to the point where it becomes just another marketing tool; a ‘en-vouge’ way to promote the business.

PR – check

Social media marketing – check

Outbound marketing plan – check

Guest appearance on an industry podcast – check

Cool brand – check

It’s painful to watch, but even more painful for the poor board members who spent their cash ordering the new Ping Pong table for reception, as a demonstrator of their quirky ‘brand’.

I’m sorry to say, but the Ping Pong table is not going to help grow your business.

Let’s go right back to basics. A brand is not a marketing tool, it’s the underpinning foundation of everything your marketing strategy should be build from. It’s the benchmark, the yardstick, the barometer from which your marketing, and yes I will go as far as to say, the rest of your business is built.

But here’s the kicker; it can’t be faked. No matter how many flexi-days and free fruit Fridays you introduce, it won’t be enough if your brand personality isn’t authentic to what the people leading your business really believe.

Take Jason Fried of Basecamp fame for example, in this podcast he explains, that the ‘work only in work time’ culture instilled by himself and Co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson (it’s OK, even he abbreviates to DHH), is fully practised by the founders themselves.

Firm believers that, contrary to popular belief, a global tech company can be built on only working a 40 hour week (or less), Fried and DHH themselves clock off after their flexi-work day is done and expect all their employees to do the same. No exceptions.

Their commitment to this philosophy is so strong that they have built a functionality onto Basecamp’s instant messaging tool ‘ping’ which allows users to automatically disallow pings to get through during allocated times, of the user’s choosing.

And no-one (not even the owner of the business account) can override it, meaning that if a person doesn’t want to be contacted via ping at any given time, they can’t be.

Millennials are reshaping the workplace and aren’t necessarily looking for a role that pays the highest wage; they’re seeing compensation being made up in other ways, including agile working practises, increased holiday allowances and health and wellbeing benefits.

But providing these ‘perks’ (I hasten to use that word because, are they over and above what should be mandatory?) is far from the end of the story.

Savvy employers are finally cottoning onto the fact that providing a culture that priorities autonomy, instills respect, encourages passion projects and personal and professional growth, has a clear correlation with workplace productivity, motivation and loyalty.

You don’t need me to tell you that these all have a major effect on your bottom line.

OK, so let’s cut to the chase; here are 3 ways to develop a company culture that converts:

  1. In this podcast Kris Boesch suggests being totally open and transparent about your cash flow. Engaged employees understand the income and expenditure and respect it. Listen to the podcast for a great trick on how to do this well
  2. Align your culture with your core values. Going back to my intro, your culture has to come from an authentic place. If you haven’t defined your brand vision, mission and values yet, that’s your first port of call, before you even start thinking about employee branding. Once your guiding principles are in place, the culture can stem from these
  3. Following on from this, you need to ensure you’re hiring people that’ll get behind your vision and hold it dear to their heart. Hire for values, not just talent. As they say ‘people make a place’ and this is especially true in the workplace  

It all comes down to this; as a leader treat people how you’d want to be treated. That way your culture is going to be reflection of your business and personal values, meaning the people you employ are going to be attracted by those same ideals.  

As a leader, if you’d like to work in a place that offers a project-based work flow structure, make the change. If you’d prefer a half day a week to work on a personal project, make it happen… and of course if you relax and bond through a lunchtime game of ping pong, don’t let me stop you buying one.

Let me know what a great company couture means to you. and if you like what you read check me out on Twitter @23wisewords.


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