Think, for a moment, about your company culture—maybe it developed from careful thought and balanced choices and is reflected in behaviors and activities at every level of your organization. Perhaps it’s the result of a looser approach—a culture that grew more organically from the values and beliefs of core team members. Either way, your company has a distinct culture. Today, 80% of millennials rate cultural fit with employers above future career potential.1
No matter how your company culture developed; whether with the help of outside consultants or as a natural extension of the way your team works together, that culture is the reality within which you’re hiring. For a variety of reasons, you may not be able to showcase the “tech-company” culture many digital job hopefuls are expecting—and influencing or changing that culture to be more appealing to top talent may not be within your immediate influence. Cultural fit is a subject that’s top-of-mind for prospective employees—so how can you build a strong team within your company’s existing culture? Our answer: build on what you do have and create powerful hiring results. Here are five ways to build your digital culture.
1. Establish a team culture within your company’s overall culture.
You may not be able to influence your company’s overall culture at this time—but you can adapt it in ways that will help you build a strong digital team and create rapport between team members. This team vision should be compatible with the company’s overall values, but specific to the team’s purpose and scope.
Smaller teams that work well together can create a unique, “ownable” atmosphere that reinterprets accepted company culture without rejecting it. This mini-culture should focus on team collaboration and shared goals, important cultural elements important to digital applicants. The culture-within-a-culture should be one that can easily be expressed to prospective hires. This way, it’s easier to interview for cultural fit—can they see themselves as part of this culture? How would they contribute to it? Do they see how it dovetails with the company’s overall mission and values? These answers will help inform your hiring decisions.
2. Stability is exciting. Sell it.
It’s clear that mature, experienced digital talent won’t be gunning to work in a start-up environment. They’ve already paid their dues, working in companies where process is nonexistent and office hours blur into real-life hours. However, you can’t assume that the start-up environment will appeal to top millennial talent, either—it may be what they’ve been conditioned to expect versus what they actually want.
If your organization provides stability and accountability that serves as a welcome counterpoint to the never-clock-out Silicon Valley approach to work, let applicants know. Empower your recruiter with messaging around predictability, well-defined processes, and a respect for work-life balance. The right candidates will hear that you value them as individuals; not just cogs in the machine of getting-things-done.
3. Bring Agile working agreements to all kinds of projects.
Working agreements or “team norms” are an Agile approach to project management in which team members agree on guidelines that will lead to a smooth working process and positive outcome. They also serve as a good grounding point when things get stressful along the project path. These agreements empower a digital team to create their own rules of engagement and contribute to team autonomy—in essence, teams are more likely to adhere to rules they made themselves and require less oversight from a senior leader.
Beyond identifying acceptable and unacceptable behavior or defining a common language, working agreements (and the process that their development entails) create a sense of collaboration between team members, allowing them to build interpersonal relationships and serving as a framework to guide tough conversations. The right hires will understand this approach and value a process that reduces inefficiencies and encourages team members to ask for help when they need it.
4. Don’t just grow your team. Help your team members grow.
A recent survey showed that millennials rate career growth and developmental opportunities as important to them in a job.1 When you make it clear that you’re hiring not just for the skills an applicant shows today, but their potential to further develop their talents in the future, you show an investment that many hiring managers don’t think to bring to the table. As an established company, it’s likely there are defined career paths and formal learning opportunities you can highlight—surprisingly, these perks rarely get front-loaded in the initial conversation.
This approach exhibits confidence that you’re offering a position in a great place to work. A focused conversation around their future plans and interests—and what you can offer to make that happen—serves as a striking counterpoint to start-up organizations that may not have thought past Step One: Make The Hire. For niche roles like UI/UX, the appeal of a company willing to invest in personal development is undeniable. And along with the opportunity to learn, you may also want to highlight future opportunities to mentor—this is especially appealing to digital subject matter experts who are passionate about the work they do and about sharing the knowledge they’ve gained.
5. Shared meals—the faster track to a shared culture.
Everyone eats differently these days—from paleo to keto to gluten-free to last night’s leftovers, the menu isn’t actually what matters. When you want to reconnect with old friends, what do you do? You go out to dinner. The same approach applies to team building—when teams sit down together, they share more than what they’re eating. A shared meal time is a great opportunity for personal engagement; it’s a chance to get to know one another as individuals, not just coworkers. In a world where start-up culture means endless free granola bars and green smoothies, a weekly team lunch offers a counterbalance—and candidates may be excited to see an investment in this kind of bonding and camaraderie-building.
If eating isn’t your team ‘thing’, find appropriate alternative avenues to message and build your team culture-within-a culture.
Overall, in order to connect with the right candidates, we must define and tailor team culture to meet the expectations and needs of top talent in ways that are genuine, appealing, and practical. These are five ways The Intersect Group has seen small-scale culture shift contribute to identifying, hiring, and keeping the best digital talent.
What cultural elements do you find most important to prospective hires? What are examples of company culture rejected by top talent candidates? Let us know in the comments.
1. Severt, Natalie. “Recruiting and Hiring Stats HR Pros Must Know in 2018.” UpToWork, 26 Mar. 2018, uptowork.com/blog/hr-statistics.
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