“Why do you want to work for us?”
It’s a common interview question because it’s an important indicator of how successful an employee will be once they’re hired. But it’s also a benchmark for employers too.
Do employees actually want to work for you? More specifically, do top-tier and highly valued candidates flock to your business? Or are you often stuck with whoever shows up to the interview?
One of the biggest draws for top-tier employees – and also the reason they stick around longer – is company culture. Toxic company culture will keep away top-level talent and make current employees unhappy, while a healthy culture will make you an in-demand employer.
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Why Company Culture Matters
Even if you run a small business, you’re not an island. You have a team of people working with and for you to help get things done, and the way that each employee interacts with others is vital to your survival.
According to Forbes, company culture is “your organization’s ability – or lack of ability – to acknowledge trust and fear. [It’s your] ability to manage the human energy in your shop as capably as you manage operational, financial and marketing issues.”
Field techs that are late getting out into the field, customer service reps that don’t answer phones, or managers that nitpick employees for minor things are all signs of toxic company culture – one that can impact your ability to keep employees around.
In fact, studies show that turnover rates at companies with a poor or toxic culture is 48% compared to those with a healthy culture at 14%.
Ensuring that workers are doing more than the bare minimum and that managers recognize talent and hard work when they see it is an important part (if not the most important part) of attraction and retention.
In short: A happy work culture brings out the best and attracts even better.
Improving Culture to Attract Better Employees
So how do you know if you have the ability to keep employees happy for the long haul? Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your company culture is healthy enough to sustain and attract top-tier talent.
Be Slow to Hire
As they say, good help is hard to come by. When you’re going through a growth spurt or you feel like it’s time to hire, it may be tempting to get someone who is “good enough” for the job. But “good enough” employees are often the ones who end up doing the bare minimum or leaving for a better paycheck somewhere else (or worse yet, don’t leave when they really should).
If you want to find and retain great employees, you need to hire slowly. Interview thoroughly, contact references, and conduct personality assessments to make sure they’re the right fit for your culture. And if they don’t add to your culture, don’t hesitate to cut the cord.
Improve Your Management Skills
According to these company culture stats, 75% of people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. Management that is distracted, under-prepared, dominant, absent, or otherwise unclear in their communication style will only add to a toxic environment.
Look for leaders that demonstrate clear communication skills, listen to and trust their team, empower and encourage employees, and otherwise improve morale around the office.
Empower Your Employees
Good employees are those that take responsibility in their roles, but it can be difficult to do so when management or other team members micromanage or assert too much control over every situation. It’s important to show employees that you trust them and that they’re empowered to do their jobs.
One way to empower them is to make sure they care about what you care about. If you have a lawn care business, for example, tell them how long you expect each property to take, but then let them approach the job in their own way.
Use Technology to Improve Processes
You can also use technology to attract better employees. Field techs shine in the field, so you don’t want them stuck in an office doing paperwork. Technology that allows them to take notes from the field or otherwise conduct business in their own way will make them much more productive.
Technology can also differentiate your business from competitors. Invest in mobile field service software that enables your team to do their jobs well.
Get Consistent Feedback
When your employees say something is wrong, listen. Healthy leadership will lend an ear to employees and will go the extra mile to implement strategies that help them do their job better. Many companies conduct annual employee satisfaction surveys, but it’s important for employers to implement that feedback as much as possible and to conduct surveys more regularly, especially if policy or procedure changes are in the works.
If you’re hiring new employees, ask current team members how they heard about you and what the interview process was lacking. They may have some insights that could make the recruitment process more productive for you and whomever you hire.
According to one poll from Psychometrics, when asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied, “Give recognition.” Showing appreciation for employees on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis is not only a good indicator of a healthy culture, but an excellent way to keep employees happy.
This is also true when you’re recruiting new talent. Highly sought after employees are often praised for what they add to the team, but that recognition can die down in the hustle of the daily grind. If a high value employee goes unrecognized after they’ve signed a contract, they may not stick around for very long.
Be sure to say thank you for jobs well done or otherwise recognize excellent work as soon as it happens.
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If you really want to attract and retain top talent, you have to focus on both internal and external processes. You may be able to recruit a highly sought after team member, but if your company culture is toxic, they won’t be around for long (and the search will start all over again).
Healthy work cultures are those that are slow to hire and think through everything they need and want from an employee before signing them on. They use technology to their advantage in order to help employees be their best and focus on what they were hired to do.
They also have staff and management teams that listen to employees once hired and go out of their way to give them more control over their work, confidence to do the job well, and gratitude for a job well done.