These Companies Know How to Build a Strong Culture

Date posted: November 8, 2017

employee experience

By Steffen Maier

More companies are shifting towards a people centered approach to their internal processes. In major companies, such as Airbnb and IBM, HR professionals are redesigning the workplace with their employees’ needs in mind and even changing their titles to ‘Employee Experience Officer’ and ‘Storyteller’. The question many companies now face is exactly how to rethink processes which have been in place for decades.

We spoke with 4 companies about innovative ways their HR departments are redesigning traditional processes to fit the employee experience. From recruitment to leadership development these companies are putting their employees first and creating an engaging culture in the process.

Recruitment

Recruiting top talent has always been a key challenge but hiring top technical talent is proving even more difficult. A recent survey by Indeed revealed that over 86% of tech hiring managers find it challenging to attract and hire technical talent. A team at Deloitte Canada’s Technology Consulting practice realized that in order to find the technical talent they needed, it was necessary to completely rethink the way they recruited and interviewed candidates.

Instead of sticking to traditional recruiting grounds like universities and job fairs, consultant for Deloitte Canada, Joshua Kho, explained that they began recruiting at coding hotspots like hackathons, code fests and product showcases. Not only did this bring them face to face with the hires they needed, it also allowed them to create a better interview process.

As Kho asserted, “Why try and fit the person to the process when you can change the process to fit the person. Hackathons allow us to see how talent will perform under a compressed and difficult timeline. We view their actions, how they think, how they react, how they build, how they problem solve, all in the artificially created stress brought on by their limited timeline.”

Onboarding

A survey by Korn Ferry found that 90% of executives said retention of new hires was a major issue with 10-25% leaving within the first six months. With looming deadlines and fast paced changes, taking the time to make a new team member feel welcome can often be overlooked. Your company’s most valuable asset is your people and they should feel that from day one.

At Lever, each time a new person joins the team everyone gets together and creates a unique GIF to welcome them. In a fast growing company seeing new people join the team can become routine. Having people stop, recognize and celebrate each hire reminds everyone that it’s not only business milestones that are important, gaining a new teammate is an important achievement for the company.

Every new hire’s first week is spent in the company’s ‘Ramp Camp’ an orientation program that introduces them to all aspects of Lever operations and at the same time encourages new hires to create cross functional relationships with each other which will help them become oriented and grow throughout their journey with the company.

Employee experience officer Jennifer Kim explained, “The employee experience initiatives at Lever are deeply rooted in empathy. Job searching can be an incredibly stressful process, and the point of deciding which company to join can bring a lot of relief and excitement.”

Even after the recruitment and onboarding phase, engagement is something that needs to be constantly updated and improved. Research shows that there is a direct link between an engaged workforce and increased productivity, innovation and customer satisfaction. But how do you create an always on engagement culture?

Employee journey mapping

LearnVest has taken engagement to the next level by mapping out their employees’ journey throughout the company from pre-employment all the way until after they leave the company and become “alumni”. Lina Stern, Head of Employee Experience, explained, “Our mission is to become the destination of choice for the thinkers, idea builders and experimenters of the growing population of fin-tech innovators.” Based on the insights her team gained, they created their own unique formula for creating a great employee experience at LearnVest. The six key areas include:

+ Enriched Environments

+ Relevant Tech and Data

+ Immersive Experiences

+ Authentic Leadership

+ Communication

+ Personalized learning products

=Great Employee Experience (eX)

There is no one size fits all approach to employee engagement. Each individual company has a unique workforce, set of values and culture, therefore, everyone’s formula for a great experience should be different. As Stern shared, “We believe our employees are our first customers. This means we map and combine all the key ingredients of the employee journey and commit to building relevant and fun solutions across that journey.”

This work has certainly paid off with the company being named one of Time’s “50 Best Websites in 2011,” Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies in 2015,” and three years running Best of Show awards at Finovate Fall 2011, 2012 and 2013. Their case truly shows that putting your employees first is the key to creating a successful and innovative company.

Leadership

A top mantra in the HR world has become “people leave bosses, not jobs.” The people you promote to leadership positions will have a major impact on retention. However, traditionally managers are chosen based on technical, rather than leadership abilities. This creates a system in which the only way up is to lead a team, whether it’s something you’re passionate about or not. How can you redesign management to make it work for your employees?

Founder/COO of x.ai, Alex Poon explained that instead of a traditional system with managers on top, “We practice servant leadership.” Instead of having upper management chose leaders, they actually let their technologists chose their own managers every six months. Poon explained that having regular feedback loops in places holds managers accountable for helping their team learn and grow on an ongoing, rather than annual basis.

At the same time, not being in a management position doesn’t limit people’s say in how the company is run. The company uses a tool called Request for Comments which lets anyone propose a new way of doing things, creates an open dialog around these proposals, and is structured to move the team to a decision quickly.

Steffen Maier is co-founder of Impraise a web-based & mobile solution for actionable, timely feedback at work. Impraise turns tedious annual performance reviews into an easy & engaging process by enabling employees to exchange valuable feedback in real-time & providing insightful analytics to managers & HR. @stgmaier

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