What is Company Culture and how do you communicate it effectively?

what is company culture

Culture and cultural fit is something that gets spoken about a lot but what is it, and how do companies communicate their culture to potential hires? When we set up JLA Resourcing we spent a lot of time thinking about our core beliefs and making sure that the business we build is something that we believe in and that reflects us as people.

When we expand, we need to make sure that any potential hire understands the culture we’re trying to build and more importantly buys in to that.

Communicating that culture will be a challenge and something that we’re really aware of when representing clients to our talent networks.

Before we go into how you communicate culture effectively, it is probably a good idea to really understand what we mean…

What is company culture?

Culture is a combination of values, purpose and mission but let’s break that down a bit:

Company values

Often described as “beliefs, philosophies and principles that drive the business” and these should be central to how the business and its staff conducts themselves.

This article on hubspot shows the top 18 (No, I don’t know why they didn’t do 20 either!) and the top 5 within that are Integrity, Boldness, Honesty, Trust and Accountability. Values are interesting in that surely no one sets out to build a business based on dishonesty, untrustworthiness and poor customer care but by looking at the 4 or 5 that a company does prioritise you can really see what they prioritise.

Company purpose

Different to values in that the purpose is seen as being more about the impact the business can make on society.

A Harvard Business Review article describes it as “a way to inspire your staff to do good work for you, find a way to express the organisation’s impact on the lives of the customers, clients, students, patients – whomever you’re trying to serve”.

Purpose is important because it is about more than profits and studies show that companies whose sole “purpose” is driving shareholder value will struggle to engage the staff. The general trend is that the majority of companies that experience more than 10% year on year growth have a clear purpose and the positive of this is that brand recognition is significantly improved.

Company mission

The company mission statement can be seen as pulling together the values, objectives and purpose in to one short summary or statement. Values and purpose are still important but the mission statement should give you a flavour of what a business is about. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Microsoft – “To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”
  • Google – “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
  • Cisco – “Shape the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for our customers, employees, investors, and ecosystem partners.”
  • Tesla – “Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”
  • Culture needs to be authentic and must come from the top – it can’t be something that sits side of desk and that is seen as an add on. The whole company needs to live and breathe it in order for it to truly be adopted and for the business to all push in the same direction.

Data is showing that the “purpose” part of it is becoming more and more important with “Gen Z” leading the charge in terms of wanting to work for a business that is changing the world for the better.

Why is a clearly defined company culture important?

Having a clearly defined culture is important for staff attraction, engagement and retention. Of course, salary / benefits are always going to be an important factor when hiring a new team member as we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed but whilst a lack of money is a definite reason to move, having enough money doesn’t guarantee that someone will stay.

Happy staff talk! If you want a great way to minimise recruitment costs (as much as it pains me to write this!) is to make sure that your existing staff are out there promoting the business and acting as ambassadors. “Pub talk” can be negative with people complaining about work but when you bump into someone who genuinely loves their job and the company they work for then it’s more refreshing than an ice-cold cider on a hot summer’s day* (*Pubs reopened on day of writing hence the reference).

And then there is the retention piece. The cost of a bad hire / early leaver is estimated to be 3 x their annual salary as you have to replace, train and on-board the new person and getting them up to speed takes time.

Whilst attraction, engagement and retention are important, the key reason for having a clear culture is that it shows the outside world what you do and how you do it.

How do you communicate your company culture?

Here are a couple of simple suggestions for how you can communicate your culture effectively:

  • Do it prior to day 1 – Talking in an interview about your culture and what it means to work at the company sets a clear expectation from the very start and will help you to hire for culture as much as skills.
  • Consistency – Key to any effective communication strategy is consistency. If it is mentioned once a quarter in a wrap up meeting or printed out and sellotaped to the fridge but never spoken about then it won’t stick so be consistent.
  • Simplicity – You also need to make it easy to understand, make it simple enough for someone in a pub to tell one of their mates what you do and why you do it.
  • Use of multiple platforms – Web, print and video all have their place in getting your message to the outside world.

How can JLA Resourcing help?

When we set the business up we not only thought long and hard about the culture we wanted to create but also what makes us different or our “unique selling proposition” (USPs). As a recruitment business it is very difficult to have true USPs.

Recruitment is a straight-forward (but very complex!) process, we all have access to similar tools and the fallback position that most agencies take is “It’s our people that make the difference” and whilst we genuinely believe that our people are our best asset, if everyone is saying that then it is difficult to get someone who doesn’t know you to see how you’re different.

So, we decided that one of the ways we wanted to standout was by making sure that everyone knows that one of our core drivers is how we represent our clients and how we communicate that proposition to the candidates we’re speaking to. Wherever possible we’ll use video as we believe it gives a superior level of engagement and we agree with each and every client how they want us to represent them.

Giving a true representation of our client improves our chances of identifying and engaging with the talent that will take them forward!

Content will drive engagement, and this is fundamental to how you can attract the more “passive” job seekers who tip toeing in the market but can be tempted if they see a company that culturally aligns.

Ben Leeds
Ben Leeds
With over 20 years’ in the recruitment industry Ben has seen quite a bit and hopes that by sharing some thoughts he can help you to either hire the best person or find the right job!
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