For Companies Recruiting Millennial Talent, Culture is Everything

“How important is company culture?”

“How do we improve our image to potential applicants?”

“How do we attract good talent?”

These are crucial questions for any company, especially among a growing millennial generation that lives in a world deeply influenced by online reputation and web presence.

I should know—I am one of these millennials!

When we want to find a restaurant, we use Yelp. When we want to pick a movie, we use Rotten Tomatoes. When we plan a vacation, we use TripAdvisor.

And when we look for a job, we use Glassdoor.

The website is built on anonymous employee reviews of their company and management, and it was a crucial tool that helped me screen potential employers when I was in the job market.

Companies with poor performance reviews do not look like good options to potential candidates. Whether these online reflections are accurate or not, a less than favorable online profile will influence applicants searching for a job—especially millennials.

Ultimately, every company wants good culture, a strong online presence and some way to attract good millennial talent.

So how do you get there and what are companies doing that have excelled in these areas?

It’s a growing question and a major topic addressed recently during the Glassdoor Best Places to Work Roadshow, where the company revealed what it takes to make its “Best Places to Work” list and how these companies shaped their culture into top talent brands.

A few average stats about the winners on their “Best Places to Work” list for 2016:

  • Overall score of companies: 4.2 out of 5
  • CEO Approval: 94 percent
  • Recommend to a Friend: 87 percent
  • Positive Business Outlook: 80 percent

The Glassdoor team also looked for trends and common factors in their winners to share some insight. These concepts are not surprising, but evidently were crucial factors in high employee ratings:

  • Clear Path for Advancement
  • Transparent Leadership
  • Unique Culture that Aligns with the Mission.

Not surprisingly, their data also shows that some of the most crucial factors in a workplace that impacted employee satisfaction were (in order of rank): culture and values, senior leadership, career opportunities, business outlook, work-life balance and compensation and benefits.

The Glassdoor team emphasized the importance of focusing on company culture, embracing workplace feedback and to remember that salary isn’t everything.

They also talked about encouraging employees to write reviews and respond to those reviews online directly from the employer’s perspective. This helps with reputation and shows you are engaged with your workforce.

This all sounds great, but what are some practical ideas from people who have done this?

Glassdoor brought a panel of some of their top performers who shared from their experience of what they have seen to be effective in their organization.

Ann Poletti of DocuSign (#23 on 2017 Large List) talked about their “Impact Foundation,” where a percentage of profits, products and employee time is dedicated each year to give back to the community. She also shared how they utilize transparency by sending out meeting minutes and financial information throughout the company from quarterly meetings. Ann revealed that the company also conducts one-on-one interviews with employees to try and find out why people joined, stayed and what inspired them.

Lindsey Sittko of FAST Enterprises (#6 on 2017 Large List) explained that, even though the company has remote offices all over the country, the community and culture felt at these offices makes people feel at home wherever they are located. Lindsey also said that they look for trends in schools that have been fruitful for recruiting. When they recruit at these schools they include a contact sheet of alumni that are now at their organization so applicants can reach out and hear about their experience. Regarding interviewing, she stressed, “They’re interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them, so try and share a meal or have an experience where you can engage in genuine casual conversation. You want the wrong candidates to opt out!”

Lane Rankin of Illuminate Education , Irvine (#2 on 2017 Small/Mid List ) talked about the genuine passion its employees had as educators working in technology—not the other way around. Lane discussed how the company proves that it truly cares for its employees through its actions and provided resources. He also discussed how employees have come together to support one another in difficult times, making a point that the company has backed that compassion with flexible time off and paid leave in difficult circumstances.

Other advice included using your budget toward things that will engage your workforce on a macro-level where peoples’ voices can be heard. When planning events, try and base them around your company culture and what will make most sense.

If the company is small enough, try and keep an open door policy with the CEO. One panelists shared how he likes to have employees and candidates ask him questions at his office and during quarterly meetings. He also shared that he likes to be a part of the onboarding process to give the company history, mission, vision, and encourages tough questions.

Hearing these types of stories is certainly inspiring. The challenge is to try and apply these practices and engage your employee on a new level.

Some important things to know before you take a run at their top performer list:

  • Awards are announced in December and are based on 12 months of data from current or recently former employees.
  • Candidates are ranked on both qualitative and quantitative data—and they look for consistency.
  • There are two different lists: One for small/medium companies with less than 1,000 employees and one for large companies with more than 1000 employees.
  • Small companies required at least 25 reviews in the past year to be eligible for consideration, but this is subject to change and could move up to 30.

Turning into a “Top 50 ranked company” doesn’t happen in a day, but I think being aware of what other companies are doing is a great start.

Prioritizing opportunities for change and making improvements can be a daunting task, but creating an environment where people care about one-another and collaborate in engaging work is an ideal too enticing not to pursue!


Brandon Burroughs

About Brandon Burroughs

Brandon Burroughs is an active advocate for his clients, seeking the best resources and solutions that will help move their businesses forward and allow them to focus their time and energy on their business objectives and goals.

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