Your Workplace Culture And The Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
If you joined Laura & Paul for the recent episode of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, you would have heard them discussing workplace culture and the EVP (Employer Value Proposition).
Have a listen to the episode and then let's take a look at some of the key questions . . .
How important Is company leadership & management in workplace culture?
Company's leadership and management is key to workplace culture.
The whole idea of workplace culture and lived values and everything else needs to start from the top. It needs to be lived. It needs to be really embedded within an organisation.
Without strong leadership around that and management doing their part and being visibly active around culture and what they want to achieve, then it tends to fall down. It tends to be seen as kind of a tick-the-box exercise.
So you really need the executive team to buy in.
How would you go about that? How do you get the buy-in from the executive team?
Culture and HR and recruitment tend to be maybe a little bit further down the list than they should be. Sometimes leadership & management teams can focus on things that are very obviously revenue-generating. it's purely about the bottom line, but being able to demonstrate how creating a positive culture or creating an employer value proposition that people want to work with and work for and embody is good for the bottom line.
How do you demonstrate that? How do you get by in senior levels by showing that investing time and resources into creating a positive culture?
There are clear statistics out there on all this translating to the bottom line.
It costs more to recruit than retain staff.
It's easier to recruit if your employee culture is right, which reduces the cost of time to hire and things like that. You get the right person in the door, they tend to stick around longer and there's less training costs and everything else. So, there are very clear ways that you can measure the impact of a positive culture.
Where do EVPs fit into this? (Employer Value Propositions)
You need to think about workplace cultures that are attractive from an employer brand perspective.
It's easy for companies that are well-known, that have a brand that's well recognized and well organized.
In Dublin, just near the Top Tier Recruitment offices, you have Facebook, you have Google, you have LinkedIn. Twitter is nearby too. They're all highly recognisable brands.
A big thing from an EVP perspective that your brand overall is strong and recognizable.
How do you build on that? How do you make sure people are aware of you as an employer? What is your employer brand? And are people kind of aware of that? And how do you do that if you're not mainstream in terms of a brand?
It's about recognising where you are from an overall branding perspective and then working to address any gaps or any issues with that.
It's really important actually from an SME perspective. If we think about, for example, smaller domestic fund managers or boutique fund administration firms or any of the IFSC banks that aren't necessarily retail banks and, therefore, don't have a massive following or recognition. They still need to recruit and are competing with tech giants now because it's not just financial services competing with each other.
It's really important for those guys, in particular, to think about what they can offer, what their brand is, how they're going to attract people, and spend some time and probably a little bit of money on getting their message out there to enable them to recruit and retain properly.
People love having a direct impact on their work. Is that part of an EVP?
Definitely. It's easier for smaller companies or for startups where you're employee #10 and you know what the product is, where the product's going, and so on. You can directly see your impact. If you're a UI person and you're going to work on a particular product with a FinTech, for example. You know that you're going to be ultimately responsible for the UI user experience or the user interface for that product.
It's really easy to see what you've done and how it's translatable. It's easy even to show your mates. You know, "I was involved in this. Look what I did."
It gets harder when it's a larger business with more layers and complexity.
When it's larger and when you need to functionalise and when jobs become inherently more specialist as you grow. It's important to try to keep that philosophy going through because of purpose, particularly in the millennial generation and Generation X or Y or Z or whatever the next generation will be, they do want to purpose in their work.
They do want to see how what they do makes an impact. They want to see how they've contributed to their company and their career.
Showing how their role is important.
Also, think about giving the opportunity to contribute outside of the role, outside of your day to day responsibilities.
Give people responsibility for defining an employer brand.
Give people responsibility for developing a recruitment strategy if you're not going to do it yourself. Keep people responsible for your corporate social responsibility policy and other such policies.
Giving people responsibility for things they can have a direct impact on is very important.
How do company policies and philosophies affect workplace culture?
Taking a step back, companies need to define who they are and what they are themselves and develop policies around that aspect.
Policy is not a great word probably because it sounds rigid and it sounds inflexible and everything else.
Define what you are and what you want to achieve and how you want to have your culture or how you want to embed a particular culture within your organisation.
It's about setting a kind of a roadmap to getting there and recognising where you are on that roadmap.
Any company that's been established for any length of time has some form of employer brand, has some form of policy in place, and has some sort of vision for where they want to go. So, you're somewhere on a roadmap already.
The policy side is important. Try to think of the counterpoints to any particular policies.
One thing that people are very strong on at the minute is innovation and they'll talk about their culture being really focused on innovation and people have the opportunity to contribute and they have the opportunity to innovate and come up with new ideas and everything else.
And that's great.
But the counterpoint to innovation is failure.
Most ideas, or at least a lot of ideas, will fail.
Does your culture allow for failure? How does your culture allow for failure? Do you have examples? How do you demonstrate it? How do you recognise it and turn it into a positive?
Think of what you want to achieve, set out a plan or a roadmap to achieve it, and importantly, remember the counterpoint to whatever it is that you're trying to achieve.
What about the physical work environment?
I wouldn't say everyone has the office environment just right just yet but it's more commonplace to have a nice working environment and it is important.
You're at work for a lot of time most days, regardless of agile working and remote working and everything else. Your physical office is somewhere that people spend an awful lot of time, so getting that right is important. It feeds into your culture.
If you're a company that wants to promote things like innovation and generating new ideas and all of that side, you need to have spaces that are kind of conducive to that aspect.
Is there a room where people can go to think about these types of things? Is there the physical infrastructure there? Do you have smart whiteboards, for example? Do you have your screens and offices that are set up for VC should be easily enough connected to laptops wirelessly and all that just to make the infrastructure of things like innovation easy?
From a recruitment perspective, it's important too. The first impression that people get of you as a company is very often your office (or your website, which should have pictures of your office). So that is definitely important as well.
Salaries have become a little bit more homogenous now. If you're good, you'll get paid market rates or in and around, what it should be. Benefits are kind of becoming relatively homogenous. So it's all the other stuff around culture like the physical office, like remote working, like diversity & inclusion - all of these sorts of things are becoming a lot more important and they all feed in together.
How does company communication affect workplace culture?
Having an open and transparent communication policy is really important. It feeds into what we talked about earlier on in terms of people understanding where their role fits and how it contributes to an organisation's overall goals.
If you don't know where an organization is going and how it's going to get there with some form of a roadmap, it's really hard to translate that into your world and what you do, particularly as you grow.
In a small company, it's easy enough. You're likely all sitting in the same room and you know, you're all working quite closely together. It's easy enough to share where a company is going and communication around that, but as you grow, it's probably one of the things that do get a little bit harder - then how do you effectively communicate? Is it just mass emails? Do you do town halls?
Are there new ways of communicating that people need to work on? Like Slack, for example, is pretty heavily used in the tech world as a good way of communicating.
From an engagement perspective and from a culture perspective, it creates an atmosphere of openness and gives people a sense of kind of value and importance.
It's really important in financial services, in particular, that leadership within companies aren't stuck in their offices just banging out emails. Leaders need to do a little bit more than that to engage people.
On the hierarchy piece, people coming into the workplace nowadays, they want access to the top executives. They want to be heard, they want their opinions to matter.
How does work-life balance affect company culture?
Work-life balance is obviously really important.
You need time away from the office or away from the laptop screen or away from the phone to give yourself a break.
It's more than just giving yourself kind of a break, it's about giving your brain time to rest and kind of sort through your thoughts almost on a subconscious level. It prevents burnout. It prevents employee-related stress, which is really important. Mindfulness and wellness are really topical at the minute but are genuinely important and something that people look for and talk to us about as potential employees of our clients.
Work-life balance is really important as are the social aspects. It needs to be recognised now that Friday pints are not just the only thing can be done from a social perspective. It's a very Irish thing that we assume that everyone wants to go to the pub on a Friday night or whatever. There are loads of other things now. There are escape room activities, paintball, or whatever else.
There's a lot that can be done, but giving people the opportunity to make social connections at work that's outside of the day-to-day, somewhere where you're not talking about work all the time is really important. It does create a much better atmosphere and makes teamwork a lot better.
People are more invested if they know a little bit more about people and the people that they work with.
We spend a lot of time in work, around work, thinking about work, talking about work, and so on.
Work is a big part of peoples' lives and, for most people, the social aspect is an important part. Encourage it as part of your effort to create a positive work culture.