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Culture is the #1 Competitive Advantage

Culture is the #1 Competitive Advantage

Published on - 10/25/2021

By: Charlie Saffro, Founder & President of CS Recruiting

The average American will spend a third of their life at work.

So, how do we make this 33% of our life not only manageable, but enjoyable?


One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a leader is the importance of promoting an environment where employees can be human. What I mean by this-it doesn’t always have to be about work.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I am ALL about productivity and running a business, but where I’m going with this is that we must always remember that we are people working with people. As human beings, we have psychological needs to connect with others. There is no question that the better you get to know your peers, the more desire there is to work together, and to win together.

When you have an engaged workforce that truly cares about each other, it becomes natural for them to be energized, passionate and aligned with their work. When a company focuses on creating a meaningful place to work, it allows team members at every level to nurture a strong company culture.

Many leaders don’t realize that company culture can be the biggest competitive advantage and the leading edge that one organization has over another. If you have a strong culture and team that believes in the purpose and vision of your company, you are always going to come out above a competitor who doesn’t prioritize their people.

Here are some ways that we support our team and put an emphasis on the value of peer-to-peer human relationships.

 



We Listen.
What:
1:1 Meetings


How:
Our four-person leadership team commits to having 15 minute 1:1’s with each employee twice a year, resulting in each team member having 8 separate touch points that they can count on. These conversations are generally focused on anything except work so we can truly take the time to get to know them, hear them and see them as who they are outside of the business.

Why: 

According to the Harvard Business Review, 1:1 meetings are an invaluable tool for managers and regular check-ins between management and their team members is becoming increasingly more important. The findings were obvious and confirmed that people do perform better when they have consistent connection points with their direct reports. Ironically, it doesn’t matter what is being discussed (work, personal, etc.), but more so the frequency of these conversations on the calendar and commitment to having these conversations on the regular.

We believe in investing this time with our team members and know that by talking and interacting with them, we are creating a safe and accepting environment for them to be themselves and truly thrive.

We Acknowledge and Appreciate.
What:
Employee recognition slack channels 

How:
We implemented Slack once we made the decision to go fully remote although it is such a great tool for connectivity and recognition that I wish we would have started using it sooner!

One of our core values is “win together” so it's only natural that the team come together on a slack channel called #wintogether and this is where our team shares little and big victories that contribute to our company success.

While the Slack dings and notifications can be distracting throughout the day, this is one channel that I love getting a pop-up for, and this is also the one channel that gets the most activity and responses from our team .

Why:
When you create a culture of appreciation, you celebrate each other and you set a standard which allows people to be who they are and it allows them to be in a place to do their best work.

We Learn Together.
What:
Monthly book club.

How:
Every month, we pick a book for the CS Recruiting book club. Our books have ranged from business and self-improvement to novels and short stories, so there’s always something for everyone. The end of the month book discussion is hands down my favorite company meeting every month. We meet for “virtual coffee” on the last Wednesday of the month and use this time to discuss the content at a high level and really dive into how we individually related to the content and what specifically resonated with us.

Why:
Many of the books we read provide our employees with tools to learn new concepts and new ways of doing activities that they can apply in their workplace. When we mix it up and add in a novel or mystery, the discussion builds camaraderie, comfort, and opportunity to connect and get to know each other on a personal level. I have to say, I have learned more about the individuals on my team during this meeting and the conversations that continue offline after the monthly discussion.

We Believe in Them.
What:
Continued Education

How:
We’ve had an internal Continuous Training program in place for several years. Our 15 Module program was designed by our team to provide the team with ongoing training and education. These modules cover a variety of topics and cover everything from negotiation training to building your brand on LinkedIn.

Over the past year, we have also allocated a budget for external training programs, and we’re excited to say it’s been a hit! We have offered our team hand-picked hour long workshops and full day events hosted by third parties like Simon Sinek and Kristen Hadeed. In addition to these interactive learning opportunities, we are constantly on the lookout for relevant webinars and online courses and encourage everyone to take time out of their week to be curious.

Why:
According to a LinkedIn survey, 90% of professionals say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their education and growth. There is no doubt that learning & development is tied to retention, and it can also be used as a tactic for talent acquisition. Many companies have not adopted this idea, nor have they put a budget around individual learning so companies that do offer it can use this as a competitive advantage for securing new hires.

We Trust.
What:
Fully virtual work model

How:
The pandemic forced us home in March 2020, many companies (like ours) quickly realized that it COULD work and it was up to leadership to implement the right policies and send the right messages to keep their teams engaged and connected.

Our team has put the right processes and connection points in place to ensure that the team stays productive and focused on every changing priorities. The transition to fully remote work wasn’t always easy, but we believed in the model and I’m proud of how we adjusted our processes and toolbox to make it work.

Why:
What we’re seeing and what a lot of research has shown is that people trust their companies, their employers, almost more now than they’ve ever trusted.

By removing the commute, our team has more time in their day and we’ve been able to offer more flexibility around working hours. There is no doubt that our team feels trusted. By allowing everyone to work from home, we offer them creative freedom to work independently and that is something that cannot be quantified.

We Care.
What:
Employee Surveys

How:
Earlier this year, we implemented an Employee Engagement platform called Emplify. This software provides our team with a platform to voice feedback to leadership through quarterly, confidential surveys.

Each quarter, our team is prompted to complete a 6-minute survey that measures the drivers of engagement with a focus on Role Clarity, Purpose, Goal Support and Utilization. Once the surveys are complete, our leadership team meets with a consultant from Emplify who walks us through the findings, key insights, and predictive outcomes. They also provide us with actionable ideas to implement in the areas where there is an opportunity for improvement.

 


 

There is no question that when you have a team that feels more like a family, people are comfortable expressing themselves. The ability to be authentic at your job leads to incredible work, and that output is what makes a company successful.

Culture is everything and there is no question that people want to be part of a company that appreciates them.