Every company has a business culture—what makes up that culture depends on a variety of factors. At an AAPEX session titled "Building a Culture that Employees Embrace," Sara Fraser, creative director at Haas Performance Consulting, defines a business culture as the company’s personality.
“[Employees are] not just looking for a place to go during the day to come home with a paycheck; they want a lot more than that,” Fraser says. “They want purpose and growth and recognition and connection and belonging and benefits and perks.”
It’s all these little pieces coming together to create a workplace that employees want to come into each day. To create a business culture that embraces employees, shop owners need to assess their businesses while considering these five questions—what is the “ideal” boss, what are employees looking for in a job, how do you show the company’s culture, are you hiring for that culture and why do employees leave?
The “Ideal” Boss
When considering what an “ideal” boss is, Bill Haas, president of Haas Performance Consulting, explains that it’s really a self-examination.
For starters, are you approachable? Will your employees come to you with problems, concerns, or feedback? They should want to interact with you.
“Nobody should ever be afraid of their boss, right?” Haas says. “To me, that's where self-examination is such an important piece of them—stopping long enough to review themselves and understand, ‘Maybe I'm part of the problem.’”
Adding to that, Fraser notes that in an internal job satisfaction survey she read, it stated that 75 percent of people found their boss to be the most stressful part of their job.
“That’s a problem,” Fraser says.
Fraser lists these traits as what employees are looking for in their bosses:
As a leader at your shop, you must first understand what your employees are looking for and then provide them with that.
What Employees are Looking for in a Job
Aside from a paycheck and benefits, employees are expecting many things from their jobs—recognition being one of those things.
Fraser discusses a class she taught a while back about how employees want to be thanked for coming into work and doing their jobs, and how during a break, one of the attendees texted his employees and thanked them, and the employees’ reaction was to ask, ‘Are you OK?’
“That shouldn’t be the reaction. It shouldn’t be that out of place to say thank you to your employees,” Fraser says. “Recognition is saying thank you.”
Apart from recognition employees are also looking for their job to challenge them and give them the opportunity to grow, and with that also comes their desire for clear, honest, and consistent communication.
Employees want to know what’s coming next for them. Is there a possibility for a promotion or a raise? When? What steps does the employee need to take to get there? Be sure there is open dialogue about these topics with your employees.
Employees are also looking for positive and uplifting environments with a clear goal or mission to work towards.
“You have to spend time with your people, and you have to listen. You can't be the one doing all the talking,” Haas says. “Because once you know what your people need, then it's your job to make sure they get it.”
Show your Business’ Culture
Showing your business’ culture to those outside your company is just as important as creating that atmosphere within it. If you have a job opening and potential employees are researching your company, what will they find? Utilize your website and social media pages to show off what your company is all about.
Fraser and Haas suggest posting pictures of company outings, fundraisers, community involvement, etc. Just be sure your posts are authentic and present your company’s personality.
It is also important to share your culture with your customers. If people believe your company isn’t taking care of its employees, then people may not want to spend money with you.
“People want to do business with people that take care of their employees,” Fraser says.
Another part of showing your culture involves how you respond to online reviews. Respond as promptly as you are able and be respectful of your customers’ opinions. If there’s a question or complaint, do your best to quickly resolve the situation.
Hire for the Culture you Want
Selecting the “right” people for your business can be tricky, but Fraser and Haas break the hiring process down into these simple steps:
- Employment ad/job description
- Pre-employment assessments
Having a process like this in place is very important, Haas notes, without it you may end up hiring in desperation, just taking the “best of what was available,” but not hiring to fit your business culture. To start, you need an employment ad. People need to know that there’s an opportunity at your company, and they need a way to communicate with you.
Next, you’ll need to provide a job description. Applicants need to know what’s expected of them—what are the responsibilities and tasks required of them for this job? In the job description, Haas advises to also write about what kind of environment your shop is and the kinds of things you go out and do as a team—that’s your competitive edge.
“[You’ve] got to demonstrate that to people,” Haas says. “This is the difference between us and the rest of the shops—you'll enjoy working here. We'll enjoy having you here, and we're going to have fun while we're here. We're going to work, but we're going to enjoy it while we do our work.”
Once the employment ads and the job description are out there, you’ll need to monitor them, and watch for incoming resumes/applications. After these start coming in, the review process begins. Not only are you going to want to look over the resume/application, but you’ll also want to call some of the references and check around on social media. This will give a better feel for what kind of person the applicant is overall.
When you’ve found an applicant you think may be a good fit, then it’s time to schedule an interview. To prepare for this interview, you’ll want to create a list of questions to ask. Fraser and Haas list a few sample questions you can ask:
- Tell me something your resume doesn’t.
- What are your hobbies?
- Describe your most difficult diagnosis or customer. How did you handle it?
- What is your most valuable tool?
- What is the best job you ever had? Why?
When asking questions, it’s important they be open-ended like the examples above. You should also try to ask some questions that don’t have to do with the job.
“Be interested in who they are as a person,” Fraser says.
This will not only show them that you see them as more than just another cog in their machine, but that you care. It will also give you a better idea of how they may fit into the environment at your business.
Understand why employees leave
Employees leave for a multitude of reasons—some reasons are outside your control, but many you have the power of changing. Fraser and Haas look at seven questions employees are asking themselves about how satisfied they are with their job. These questions include:
- Do you know me?
- Do you understand what is important to me?
- What can you do to help develop my skills?
- When do you think I am worth a raise?
- Do you care about what I think?
- Can you appreciate my effort?
- Am I respected?
Communication is a huge part of helping your employees answer those questions. If you’re saying thank you to your employees, they know they’re appreciated. If you do reviews with your employees and talk about training to continue developing their skills or discuss when/what they need to do to earn a raise, then they know you’re invested in keeping them around, Fraser notes.
Haas explains that what makes these questions so important is that “if they don’t know the answer to those questions, then where do they find the answers or what assumptions might they make? Maybe they feel like, ‘I guess I'm not appreciated here. It's time for me to start looking for a place I'll be appreciated.’”
A good rule of thumb for understanding if your employees are happy is just to observe them, Fraser notes. You can see a lot in a person’s mood. Are they interested in their work? Do they seem happy? Or frustrated and stressed out? Are they openly talking with you? Know how to spot the warning signs an employee may be unhappy and could be looking for work elsewhere.