Culture differentiators – What team members and job seekers are looking for?

To attract the best talent, your company culture needs to stand out. Never has it ever been more difficult to find the right people for your business.

There might be lots of people available – but are they a good fit for you and are you a great fit for them? 

Team Members and job seekers want to work in environments they love to come to work to each day and they are generally not scared of leaving if they don’t love it.

In the race to attract the best talent, in a job seeker’s market, employers are focusing on the next best office perk. They’re scrambling to provide what they think professionals want, but what do candidates and team members actually need from a company culture? You might be surprised.

In the competition to offer the latest and greatest culture and benefits, employers can sometimes miss out on the basic qualities job seekers want. 

To attract candidates, it is important to think like a job seeker and align your culture to better address their unmet needs.

To get started, here are some things job seekers are really looking for in a company culture, that you may be overlooking:

1. Clear goals

The company’s mission is one of the top reasons employees say they love their employer, and this is still continuing to grow in terms of importance. 

Employees don’t want to just show up to the office, mindlessly do their jobs, and go home every day. 

Professionals want to connect to the work they are doing and the meaning behind it. As the job market improves, job seekers care more and more about finding work they feel passionately about.

Close the gap between employee goals and company goals, and build a culture that centers on them. First, educate employees on the company’s mission and values, and make it a focal point in the workplace so every team member clearly understands it and can relay it if asked.

Then, speak with each team member about their values and interests, and use that to set their individual goals. Explain how these goals contribute to the company’s overall mission, and show them the impact of their hard work.

During the hiring process, talk about the company’s mission with candidates. Ask candidates about their career goals, and if you can, point out to them how they can align with the overall goals of the company.

2. Accessible leadership who can connect with team members

In the Virgin Pulse study, What professionals want: The relationship employees have with leadership is more important to them than you think. Among employees surveyed, 60 per cent said their relationships with their employer positively impact their focus and productivity at work. What’s more, 44 per cent said their relationship with their employer positively impacts their stress levels.

We have always known that the number one reason an employee stays or goes is their direct line leadership but this is a good reminder of how important this relationship truly is. 

Professionals want to connect and work closely with company leadership. Job seekers are looking for a company culture that values employees at every level, where managers and team members work together to achieve their goals.

How to add it to your company culture: Communication is the key to solid relationships between employees and leadership. 

Regular 2-way communication rhythms and encouraging employees to communicate openly and often is key. Set the tone for the office culture by building relationships with employees based on mutual respect and transparency and leaders…..share with team members how they can access you if they need to (especially if you are in a satellite office or out regularly). 

It is also critical to check in regularly with each employee to discuss and diffuse problems, concerns, and potential conflicts and address them promptly.

Creating an open company culture, where leadership connect and build meaningful relationships with each team member will be key to your success.

3. Flexibility

In the survey, 97 per cent of respondents said a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life, while 87 per cent said that flexibility would lower their stress levels.

To create a culture that values work-life balance and mental well-being, allow employees the freedom to determine when and where they work based on outputs and accountabilities. 

Flexible working hours should be just that — flexible. One set arrangement won’t fit everyone’s lifestyle. Give employees a few options, whether that involves working from home full- or part-time, setting their hours, or a mixture of both. 

Knowing and being able to relay your company’s position on flexibility will be key, particularly in an interview and will be the no 1 question asked. 

4. Financial well-being

Employees are stressed about their money, and it’s affecting their work, a survey conducted by SHRM found. 

Among more than 400 HR professionals, 37 per cent indicated that employees had missed work due to a financial emergency. COVID has also certainly lifted the financial burden with some team members not only trying to support themselves but also being concerned about family members.

Financial well-being is an important part of employee satisfaction, and professionals want to work in an environment that helps employees manage their finances and the stress they feel because of it.

How to add it to your company culture: Caring about the financial well-being of employees doesn’t mean paying everyone more — it means the organisation helps employees better understand their money. You may consider bringing a financial planner in to talk to the team and ensure they have the relevant insurances in place or budgeting processes or provide a personal budget planner/goals sheet for your team members. PS Need help with finding someone – yell out, we know people who can help! 

Keep communication about pay open and transparent with employees. Explain what they are paid and what they can do to increase their salaries (and the likelihood of that changing). In addition, be transparent about salary information during the interview, job offer, and negotiation process, to bring the best talent onboard. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. 

5. Mental health

What professionals want: Money is a big deal, but it doesn’t mean everything to employees. After their financial well-being, 36 per cent of professionals in the Virgin Pulse study said they want their employers to care more about their emotional health.

Stress takes the largest toll on employee’s emotional health. From their daily commutes to their never-ending inboxes to tight deadlines, difficult coworkers and clients, employees encounter stress in nearly every part of their workday.

Job seekers are looking for employers who strive to create stress-free work environments. Professionals want a relaxed office culture where their well-being is valued over the company’s bottom line.

Encourage employees to take regular breaks during the workday, and proactively suggest that they take some time off after a stressful period. 

Having a Mental Health Plan is a good start on some things you can do and not all the things that need to be high cost. You can include low or no-cost things like scheduling your own regular monthly ‘R U ok day’ or let’s talk about mental health, having regular ratings in 1 on 1 on people’s mental health levels to monitor, having pre-agreed ways for a team member to put their hand up if they are struggling and reasonable regular reviews of workload, role clarity and numbers of team members. 

Also – well-being challenges around sleep hours and steps are all less expensive ways them new office designs, massages, EAPs (employee assistance programs), table tennis tables, nap pods and other things that are also being looked at to create a low-stress environment and ease the minds of your hard-working team.

6. Healthy lifestyle

What professionals want: Feeding of Mental Health areas, Employees are taking a greater interest in their health, and they want their employers to help them make better choices. Among employees surveyed by Virgin Pulse, 28 per cent ranked maintaining good health as the top factor influencing their overall well-being and happiness at work.

Employees want to work for companies that value health and fitness and work in an environment that helps them reach their personal health goals — not one that sets them back.

Avoiding the temptation of the cake in the office break room is difficult enough — give employees healthy alternatives to make the choice easier. In addition to providing healthy food options, encourage team members to bring in healthy recipes to try and swap. Doing so will position health and wellness as an important part of your company culture.

Allow employees to take workout breaks during the day. Bring the whole team together by bringing in fitness professionals to lead group exercise classes and other activities, a few days a week. Organize after-hour or weekend physical activities, to encourage your employees to get active and show them you are invested in their health.

During the hiring process, finding appropriate ways to demonstrate and share your company culture with candidates is critical. This might be a diagram, story, team member sharing what it is like, poster, handout or particularly set up questions to discuss.