How are you Maintaining Your Culture?

 

As I’ve been going through the book, “Benefitfocus: Winning With Culture”, I’ve thought about what made their culture so successful compared to other companies. After thoroughly considering this question, I realized that some of the issues companies have in regard to creating and maintaining their cultures are because they don’t follow through. So many times I have witnessed companies state that they had a certain mission, culture, and vision and yet, some of their branches/locations or maybe even the company as a whole did not practice what they preached. So how can companies expect their employees to maintain the culture they specified if seasoned employees are teaching them something entirely different?

The reason why Benefitfocus can have bragging rights about their culture is because they actually practice what they preach. They defined their culture, they put it into play, and then they ensured that they kept up with the culture so it didn’t die throughout the years. Maintaining culture is all about consistency. If you want to be sure that your culture will live on and have more glory days, you need to be sure that every current and new employee who works for you knows what your culture is and what their duty is to play the part in making your company’s the best. Benefitfocus found a way and this allowed them to have endless employee testimonials raving about how the work environment is great, the reasons why it’s amazing, and the reasons why they are proud to work for the company.

Do you honestly believe majority of your workforce would feel that way? If not, then you need to consider some options on how to create and maintain the culture you originally wanted:

  • Get feedback from your employees: they’re the ones who are going to keep this culture going. The easiest way to ensure they’ll happily do so is to create a culture that not only has the company’s best interest at heart, but also one that takes in account the employees’ values. It is a lot easier to promote a culture if it involves things that relates to your employees’ personal values.
  • Create your backbone: based off of your company’s needs and the feedback you received, you should be able to define a clear list of what the culture should be. This will be the foundation of your culture and also will define your employer brand.
  • Create a plan of action: decide on what course of action you will need to take to make this list into a reality. After all, the issue that companies deal with is the fact that they say they’re one thing but never really do anything to prove it. Thoroughly determine what steps the company and employees will need to take to build the culture.
  • Set up a maintenance plan: maintaining your culture will take continuous effort. Be sure to appoint people in the organization (even a rotation of people) to gather feedback, encourage, and troubleshoot. To maintain the culture, it must always be in the front of every employee’s mind. It must always be practiced.
  • Celebrate: give your employees reasons to want to maintain this culture- don’t just tell them to do it and then forget about it. Culture should always mean a reason to celebrate and promote a good-feeling, overall. Get your employees into the habit of correlating their efforts to maintain the culture into something positive.

The culture of the company is the core of the company. It defines who they are to customers and to employees. It determines if the company will attract quality talent to lead the company to success or not. Benefitfocus has endless pages of positive employee endorsements – maybe if your company follows these steps, it could, too.

Benefitfocus Culture

Benefitfocus:Winning with Culture

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Has Bad Culture Got You Down?

Yes. This will be another post about the importance of culture (because it’s important!). However, this time I’m going to write about the flip-side. Normally, I spend time talking about the importance of good culture, mainly because it has a lot of business benefits. On the other hand, it is also important to educate people on bad culture and the negative effects it can have on your workforce and company as a whole. Thankfully, a few individuals took the time to speak to me about their bad company culture experience and those conversations have allowed me to compile some key points.

What can bad culture mean for your business? Read on:

  • Lack of productivity and quality of work: if your workers are unhappy, their work will suffer. Bad culture can reduce morale, which could reduce motivation. Reduction in motivation means productivity will slow down or even come to a standstill.
  • “Poison to the well”: negative employee experiences and emotions can spread fast like an aggressive infection. If an employee is dealing with the effects of bad culture, they could start to spread the word to others about their experience. This could result in current and new employees to start to have these perspectives. At that point, your staff is compromised.
  • Lack of dedication and commitment: if your employees feel like they can’t trust the company, then don’t expect them to stick around or to work like they will be there in the long-term. Their minds are most likely thinking about where they’re going to apply to next or how much they dread being there.
  • Lack of commitment means high absenteeism and turnover: what do you do if you dread going to work one day? Most people take a “sick day”. What do you do if you dread going to work EVERY day? Take as many “sick days” as you can (at least, that’s what the individuals in a bad culture had told me). Additionally, turn over will be high and most people will want to get out of that situation as fast as they can that they may not even give a proper two weeks notice. That means you’re down an employee and you have no one even in the pipeline to potentially back-fill that spot.
  • Your employer brand will suffer: your employer brand is everything in terms of attracting quality talent. If you aren’t attracting super-star candidates to your company, you will be left with the average-Joes. Slap the average employees into your workforce and your products/service quality will be negatively affected which means that you could start losing clients to a competitor that does it better.

The above points are every human resources professional’s nightmare. More importantly, it is extremely hard for a company to bounce back after it gets to that point and some maybe never will. It’s important to notice the early signs of a culture going bad to ensure you can turn it around early on. Otherwise, this may be an uphill battle a company may never win.

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Make Sure Your Candidates Have a Great Experience

 

A few months ago when I was job hunting, I was applying to companies that had a well-known brand, were large, and seemed to have the culture and stability I was looking for. Naturally, I assumed that my applications would go unanswered or that a few months later I would receive a generic e-mail letting me know that they’ve gone with someone more qualified. Unfortunately, this has become the new norm for job seekers and to be quite honest, it is not a great experience. Recruiters are flooded with e-mails and alerts in their ATS systems that it can sometimes be hard to respond to candidates even with the generic e-mail. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I had a great candidate experience even for a position I was never interviewed for.

One of the areas I was targeting was the west coast and many of my dream companies were located out in Silicon Valley. These were top companies and majority of the time my applications and LinkedIn e-mails went unanswered. Then one night, I received a phone call from a company I applied to—Netflix. Many people are well aware of Netflix and may have even used it before. Other individuals know a ton about their company culture (I learned about it in a few classes during my college days). I seriously wasn’t expecting to hear from them, let alone receive a phone call from their recruiting department. The recruiter simply called me to let me know that they received my resume and was impressed with my experience, but didn’t have a position open matching that at the time. She also told me her e-mail address and insisted that I connect with her on LinkedIn so we can stay in-touch for any future opportunities. And that was that. A simple phone call made quite an impression.

Experiences like this can benefit a company:

  • It can increase customer referrals: Needless to say, I told many people about my enjoyable experience with them. It really meant a lot to me to have someone reach out to me even if they didn’t have anything at the time, especially a company that would have a large volume of resumes coming through. It also meant a lot that the recruiter made it easy for me to have her information and stay in touch with her. By telling others about this experience, it gave Netflix good PR. Word of mouth is amazing for marketing and advertising.
  • It can increase talent referrals:  Because this recruiter gave me her contact information, I was able to connect talented workers with her. A couple even landed interviews and offers. Also, I told these individuals my experience which made more of them eager and excited to apply to Netflix. Engaged candidates can lead to engaged employees if hired.
  • Rapport: This recruiter and company impressed me so much by this simple act that they gained my respect. This has made me want to build a rapport and relationship with the company and even help them find other talented individuals if they contact me for help. Building this rapport helps the recruiting department have mini-strategic partnerships with people they’ve spoken to.

These little things really go a long way with candidates. Finding jobs are hard and dealing with no-answers or generic answers can really wear on a candidate’s confidence. Taking that extra time to personally reach out to them can go a long way to a point where they would be extremely grateful. In turn, their gratitude could make them want to return the favor in any way they can. Positive candidate experiences are more important than businesses realize, so be sure to make the effort if you can.

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Netflix Website

 

All Hail the Chief Culture Officer!

As I’ve mentioned a million times by now, I absolutely love Twitter chats. They’re an amazing source for information and also a great way to come up with some interesting topics to write about. This passed Wednesday, #TChat had a discussion about the Chief Culture Officer (CCO). Of course, this completely grabbed my attention because I love anything involving company culture and try to find other’s that are as passionate about it as I am. This chat helped shed light more on this particular role within an organization and also provided some great take-aways.

For those who are not familiar with this particular position or role, a CCO can simply be defined as the individual that focuses on cultural trends and applies them to the organization. For many years, this was considered a major missing component in maintaining a positive environment. Culture changes rapidly within an organization, so a CCO’s role is especially important in terms of keeping the organizational environment consistent throughout all of these changes, expected or unexpected.

I’m a huge cheerleader when it comes to company culture. It is important for so many reasons. Maintaining a culture is a full-time job and a company would seriously benefit from having a CCO to focus on this. Some positive reasons why having a good culture is imperative:

  • It creates trust among employees of all levels.
  • It helps employees to share and collaborate inter-departmentally and also cross-departmentally.
  • Good culture can increase productivity.
  • Can increase employee engagement.
  • It can increase employee satisfaction.
  • It can brand a company as “Best Employer to Work For” which can attract quality talent.
  • It promotes business growth and development.
  • It can reduce absenteeism and increase employee retention.

As I so eloquently said in the chat: if your culture sucks, what quality employees do you really think will stick around? Apparently, quite a few HR professionals agreed with this and consistently retweeted this sentiment. A CCO is the cultural fabric of your organization and helps the company shift seamlessly with change. Additionally, the CCO can really open up two-way communication with employees to determine what they want out of their employer to make their working experience a better one. I’m a firm believer that if you care about and invest in your employees, you’ll receive extraordinary results from them in return. What are you doing to ensure that you are their employer of choice?

Links:

TalentCulture #TChat Recap

The Rise of the CCO

The DNA Collaboration

A Job I Want Some Day: CCO

An Awesome Mashup that Justin Mass of Adobe Created of #TChat. Tweets from #TChat are spoken by Jocelyn Aucoin of WorkSimple, JD Dillion of Kaplan Higher Education, and myself.

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If you’re interested in learning more about TalentCulture, be sure to join #TChat on Wednesday at 7PM EST

Does Your Employer Give You a Good Work-Life Balance?

With the economy’s downturn, companies have been forced to downsize and had to increase the workload of employees still on payroll. Technology and smart phones have also allowed employees to feel like they can’t “unplug” fully even during after-hours or on their days off. Factors like this are starting to blend people’s work and personal life into one. This issue has become highly noted among HR professionals because improper work-life balance has caused many people to become stressed, increased turn-over, and even caused employee’s work and home-life to suffer.

I have been guilty of working through lunch, taking work home with me over the weekend, late hours at the office, and working on holidays from home- all while being an hourly employee. Understandably, it sometimes is necessary when you have goals to meet, tight deadlines, or in my case, payroll that could not be put off. However, if workers continue this pattern it can start to take its toll on both the individual’s work performance and personal life. So why do we continue to do it?

Here are some of the top reasons employees provided when I asked them:

  • Fear that they will be terminated if they do not consistently display above-and-beyond hard work.
  • Feel that it is necessary to secure a spot for promotion when these roles are limited.
  • Do not want other workers to outshine them and make them seem like a bottom performer.
  • Technology and mobile devices make them feel like they need to give an instant response any time a phone call, text, or e-mail comes in.
  • They are given extra job duties to fill in for the individuals that were terminated/laid off and feel overwhelmed with work. They work long hours to try feel like they aren’t drowning.

I’ve had some of these similar feelings before in previous jobs. I also have witnessed other people going through this situation. Unfortunately, here are some of the effects that could occur if they keep working like this (I’ve witnessed it or co-workers have told me about it):

  • Strain on relationships: family, friends, children, and significant others.
  • Stress and depression due to not having time to unwind/relax.
  • Stress and depression due to not having time to do things the individual enjoys.
  • Anxiety about going to work and how much work will be waiting for them there.
  • In extreme cases: substance abuse has occurred to deal with stress.
  • In extreme cases: stress has caused individuals to do things that are uncharacteristic and self-destructive.
  • Feelings of resentment towards work, co-workers, and managers, which contributed to high absenteeism and turn-over.
  • Feelings of being overworked and unable to juggle life’s responsibilities.
  • Overwhelming feelings and stress affects work-performance and quality.

Unfortunately, some of these scenarios happen before an employee realizes that the lack of quality work-life balance is affecting them that much. If you are an employee feeling overworked, please review WebMD’s tips on finding a better work-life balance.  If you are an HR professional or manager, please be sure to pay attention to this to avoid any of the effects mentioned above. If you would like to find more information on companies that have the best work-life balance, please review the articles by CNN and Glassdoor. Your employees’ well-being is important!

Additional Links:

Work-Life Balance Worsened by Recession.

Recognizing Work-Life Balance Problems.

Photo Source.

 

Spotlight on PeopleMatter: Company Culture and HR Technology

A little over a year ago I started realizing that I needed to research deeper when it came to finding an ideal company that offered all (or most) of the things I wanted and valued. I was tired of submitting a resume to the same generic job posting. I hated that unsure feeling I’d get when I would interview with companies. And I really hated when I started a job and was almost instantly disappointed. With all of these thoughts floating through my head, I decided to start my employer search by simply Googling two things I loved: human resources and technology. I clicked on the first company located in Charleston, SC (where I currently reside) and my mouth instantly fell open as PeopleMatter’s webpage loaded on my screen. I was awestruck.

PeopleMatter encompassed HR and technology in a way that I could have never imagined. The technology was practical, efficient, visually appealing, and mobile. It made it easy for busy managers to manage their talent. PeopleMatter’s platform consists of the following SaaS areas:

  • Hire: The Hire platform handles all of the recruiting, tracking, and on-boarding processes from start to finish. It organizes the company’s:  applicant tracking system (ATS) functions; background checks; job assessments; tax credits; I-9s; and on-boarding paperwork and processes.  Being that I’ve worked in HR before, I’m well aware of how frustrating it can be to have multiple logins for several vendors that handle these processes. It was a relief to see that PeopleMatter found a way to take the hassle out of the on-boarding process.
  • Learn: Assigning and tracking employee training has never been easier. This learning management system allows managers to easily select and assign specific training for different job functions. Managers can upload PDFs, videos, and other training material for employees’ review. Managers can use this tool to keep track of an employee’s progress and test scores. Additionally, this system can run reports to show metrics of which training materials seem to be working and which might need to be tweaked.
  • Schedule: Scheduling is a breeze with this platform. Managers can create schedules and effortlessly share it with employees. Employees can even use the free mobile app to view schedules, request time off, and switch shifts on the go. Managers can use this system to ensure that all shifts are covered and to ensure that the company isn’t incurring unnecessary costs by double-scheduling employees. Efficient and effortless.
  • Engage: This area will be coming out soon but will be sure to grab managers’ attention. The tool will be designed to create incentive programs to help motivate and engage employees (every manager’s dream!)

But PeopleMatter’s sleek and engaging SaaS platform isn’t the only thing that caught my attention, it was also their impressive company culture. After reading about their company culture, I was sure to track their growth and development via social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. As the year went on, I saw that their company was getting bigger and better in all areas. Employees generally seem to love working here. Some of the reasons why PeopleMatter’s culture rocks:

  • CEO, Nate DaPore, actually takes the time to use social media to tell the world about exciting news going on within the company, his employees, and his clients. To see a CEO of a company that is this openly invested in the business, his people, and his customers… well, there are no words. Judging by what I’ve seen, I’m sure he has an infectious passion that inspires those around him.
  • VP of San Francisco, Mark Deaton, took the time to have a phone call with me. When we ended our conversation, all I could think was, “Wow.” Mark had a management style that moved me. He talked about how he truly cares about his employees and that he has a drive to help them succeed professionally and personally. His conviction was tangible. He believes in his ability to do to good by his employees so much that he actually invited me to connect with some of them to discuss his management style. That level of confidence seems to prove that he follows through with what he says.
  • PeopleMatter involves all their employees in events to support and promote their clients, both new and old. It’s nice to see that everyone is involved in the company’s success and all the pictures seem to show that they’re having a good time.
  • PeopleMatter is random which makes the employees excited to see what’s in store for them each day they come into the office. From firing random cannons, to Mario Kart wars, to randomly doing a cross-country RV road trip- who knows what they’re going to get into next.

I wanted to put a spotlight on this company today because it does have a lot of great qualities to it. The technology is amazing and I can’t wait to see what new platforms and features they come out with in the future. Additionally, their culture is one that I can easily say that people would feel lucky to work for or with them.

Links:

PeopleMatter. 

PeopleMatter Platforms.

PeopleMatter Culture.

Twitter: @PeopleMatterHR

How Benefitfocus is Winning with Their Culture

For those of you that know me by now, you probably can tell that I really enjoy researching and writing about company/workplace culture. For whatever reason, learning about a company’s culture is a passion of mine. I find it fascinating that each company has a unique “personality” which allows their employees to either embrace or reject it, thus determining the level of success or failure a company has. I strongly believe that company culture can make or break a business. It is quite a mix: it’s delicate and needs to be handled with care, and yet it holds a certain level of power that can control the fate of a company.

First, I would like to say a big heart-felt “thank you” to a company headquartered here in Charleston, SC. Benefitfocus took notice of my love for company culture and was so kind to send me their book, “Benefitfocus: Winning with Culture”. I just received it the other day so I haven’t finished reading it yet, but it’s been inspiring so far. Their culture is very impressive and could easily give some of Silicon Valley’s top-dogs a run for their money. Companies that are struggling to find that “good cultural balance” might want to pick up a copy and take some notes. It seems to be working very well for them.

Something that did stick out at me so far was actually located in the beginning of the book. The author discussed some of the challenges that Benefitfocus faced when trying to create and maintain the culture that they have today. The company admitted that it wasn’t easy: there were days when employees were stressed out and irritated because of heavy workloads and tight deadlines; there were external factors that tried to get the company to conform to what was “normal”; and they had to find the right balance to try to make all employees as happy  and engaged as they possibly could.

Although there are many challenges, the company has managed to maintain it the best they could. I could tell they were successful in their efforts because the book had an endless amount of employee accounts in which they talk about the specific reasons of why they love the company and what qualities make them excited to come to work every day. Normally, I’d be skeptical of that many employees promoting a company brand in such a positive light. However, while going through my job hunt, I’ve had plenty of friends that work there (or have worked there) that gushed about the company. I’d have to say, you know a company is good when the employees speak highly of it even in private conversations. Reading and hearing about their stories made me smile, laugh, and actually feel a bit jealous (Yeah, so, maybe I’m a brat). Simply stated: It made an impact.

It’s situations like this that show me how important culture is. This company is notorious for celebrating, especially celebrating the individual. Because these employees feel like they’re appreciated just for being themselves, they’ve become more invested in the company. They’re committed. They’re willing to work as hard as possible. All this dedication and hard work has aided the business to grow at rapid rates. Their name and their software are becoming more well-known throughout the world. At this point, I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon. Not only is this good for business, but this PR is actually helping the company attract quality talent, as well.

I don’t normally read detailed books about specific companies, but I can easily say that I’m enjoying this so far and look forward to reading all of it. Yes, it does interest me because it deals with culture but it’s more than just that. I find it refreshing to see a company so committed to the happiness of its employees. Benefitfocus knows and understands that its employees are its greatest asset, and the company treats them as such. It’s also nice to see the conviction in the employees’ statements when they say they honestly love working there. I hope more companies consider the benefits of having a solid company culture and work on creating and/or improving theirs.

Links:

Click here to read more about their culture and watch some of their videos.

Click here to request a copy of their book.