Communicating culture starts with the hiring process – even with the applicants you reject

SquareMost onboarding programs place an emphasis on sharing the company culture from the very first day an employee shows up for work. But that’s not where the process begins.

Exposure to the company culture begins with the hiring process. Whether you’re doing it intentionally or not, you’re communicating the culture to every single applicant, even those you don’t pursue.

How you treat the candidates you don’t end up hiring is just as important as the ones you do. No matter what the specifics of your culture may be, being rude is probably not a value you promote. Yet that’s what many companies are communicating, rejected applicant after rejected applicant.

In Tribe’s research on hiring practices, many companies let rejected job candidates fall into a black hole. Respondents reported that even after several interviews, they often received no notice that the job was filled with another applicant. Their calls and emails to their hiring contacts went unanswered. Understandably, this made a poor impression on job seekers.

Why should you care? Because of those who had a negative experience in the hiring process with any particular company, 78 percent of respondents said they would be “likely to discourage others from applying to that company in the future.” Just as your company places a high value on word of mouth amongst consumers, it should take what job hunters say seriously as well.

Here’s the kicker though. Treating rejected applicants well can turn them into ambassadors for you company as a workplace. Over 87 percent of respondents said that in situations where they were not hired, but had a positive experience such as very personal or courteous treatment, they would be “likely to encourage others to apply to that company in the future.”

This is low hanging fruit. By simply establishing hiring processes that treat all job applicants like they matter, you can potentially improve your ability to recruit top talent.

For instance, incorporating this one small step into your process can make a difference: If a candidate has taken the time to have an interview, even a phone interview, make sure you close the loop when you give the job to someone else.

Don’t worry so much about being the bearer of bad news. In our research, respondents overwhelmingly preferred knowing they didn’t get the job to being left hanging.

Interested in improving your hiring practices? Tribe can help.

 

 

 

Making Your Vision and Values Actionable for Employees

iStock_000056231554_MediumIf your company has communicated its vision and values to employees, you’re way ahead of the game. Outlining what the company is trying to achieve and articulating the values intended to guide the business is a huge step.

But just because you’ve shared the words doesn’t mean you’ve finished the job. To truly create alignment between employees actions and the company vision, you need to go further.

The next step is to help employees understand how they, as individuals, can help make that vision a reality. Do they know what part they play? Do they see the connection between what they do every day and the business goals of the company? Do the values seem relevant to them?

One of the best ways to achieve this is through concrete examples. Instead of telling employees what they should do, try showing them what it looks like to live the values and support the vision.

For instance, if you have an internal magazine, incorporate several employee spotlights in each issue. Take three or four real employees and interview them about how they see their job supporting the vision, and how they put the company values to work in their day-to-day work. Include photography, so other employees get to see people like them, in roles like their own, being treated like heroes.

One benefit of this sort of communication is giving recognition. Employees who approach their work with an eye to how it contributes to the overall success of the company certainly deserve all the recognition they can get.

The other benefit, and perhaps the more important one, is modeling the desired behavior for employees throughout the company. When you let employees tell their stories, giving specific examples of times they’ve applied the values in their work, or explaining in down-to-earth terms how they see their work contributing to the vision, it helps other employees get it. It enables them to take the lofty language that is common to company visions and values and apply it to real-world situations.

That’s when the magic happens. When employees make that connection between what they do at work and something bigger than themselves, that’s when you get alignment. When you’ve got alignment between how employees are working and where the company wants to go, you improve on measures that really count. Engagement, productivity, retention, profitability and of course, the bottom line.

Interested in building your alignment? Tribe can help.

 

 

To Attract And Retain Millennials, Share The Company Vision

At Tribe, we like to say our highest goal is to help align employees with the vision of their company. People like to feel they’re part of something bigger, and they particularly like knowing that their day-to-day work contributes to the company’s overall success. And from a productivity perspective, there’s not much better than having everyone moving things ahead in the same direction every day.

With Millennials, this is even more important. A Deloitte study found that 60 percent of Millennials cite the company’s purpose as a reason for choosing to work for their current employer. If you look only at those Millennials who are most connected on social media, that number rises to 77 percent.

So how do you do that? The same study found that 75 percent of Millennials believe that companies are more focused on their own agendas than on the good of society. And of course, to stay in business, all companies necessarily must concern themselves with turning a profit.

The sweet spot is when a company manages to combine good business with doing good. Sustainability is a great example of this win-win scenario. As the company reduces energy usage, for instance, they’re cutting costs as well as benefiting the environment.

Those in Gen Z, the generation following Millennials, have an expectation of this win-win being relatively simple. In Tribe’s research, many of these young people mentioned in interview sessions that they expected to solve world problems their parents had not made much progress with. They cited their more global views and continuous improvement in technology as two advantages to finding those solutions.

As both Millennials and Gen Z fill more and more of our leadership positions, they’ll begin to mold the way their companies present themselves in the world. We’re likely to see a greater focus on company vision that serves the greater good in addtion to monetary business goals.  For them, this could be business as usual.

Interested in recruiting and retaining these new generations? Tribe can help.

It’s Not Email That Wastes Time. It’s Poor Email Practices.

HiResEmployees spend 28 percent of their time managing email, according to McKinsey. If we consider email just another channel, like the phone and the intranet, then email is one of the ways people get work done. Yet in Tribe’s research and client work, employees consistently complain of email wasting their time.

The problem lies not in email itself, but in inefficient email practices. Those sending emails often make poor use of the To and CC lines, use vague subject lines and write long and rambling missives instead of clear and concise emails. Employees aren’t processing their incoming emails effectively, and find themselves bogged down in their inbox, letting messages collect there until they can figure out what to do with them or how to respond. In workplaces everywhere, employees are missing important emails because they’re overwhelmed with so many that don’t concern them at all.

It’s also easy to let email interrupt your concentration on work that requires real focus. The constant stimulation of incoming messages offers ongoing distraction from the job at hand. The studies on how long it takes to get back on task after an interruption suggest that this isn’t a very productive way to work.

In an attempt to eliminate those distractions, one company banned email completely. story in Fast Company described CEO Cristian Rennella outlawing all internal emails in his South American travel company. Instead, employees sign into a custom project management site that uses absolutely no notifications. The system is what Renella describes as “pull methodology” instead of “push,” since employees decide when they’re ready to read communications and field questions and requests from their co-workers.

The cultures of most companies might not support that “whenever” approach to response time. For those companies, Tribe would recommend training on efficient email practices to quickly and efficiently communicate with colleagues internally.

Does that sound like something your company needs? Tribe can help.

How to promote collaboration for employees working from home

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAX_AAAAJDYzODQwYWRjLWRlZGEtNDY3ZC04OWVkLTk0ZWQxNzVhY2RkNwPromoting a culture of collaboration is hard enough when employees are all in the same place. Even companies with only one location can be so siloed that people in the same building but different functional areas resist collaborating.

So how do you get employees working from home to collaborate with others? That starts with laying some groundwork that will be the foundation of future collaboration.

Employees are more likely to collaborate with people they know. In Tribe’s national research with employees of large companies, respondents told us they feel much more comfortable sharing ideas when they already have a relationship with their collaborative partners.

Home-based employees don’t get the opportunity to bump into people in the hallway. While office-based employees may exchange a few words in the elevator, the break room or the cafeteria, home-based folks probably see the UPS guy more than their co-workers.

Building human connections happens one conversation at a time. But even just having a face to attach to a name seems to help. In our research, employees said they’re better able to collaborate by phone and email with colleagues in other locations when they’ve met them in person at least once.

It’s important to provide home-based employees with opportunities to brush shoulders with their office-based colleagues. For major projects, try to have them attend some meetings in person, even if that means travel. If there’s an annual managers’ meeting or sales conference, they can build the beginnings of relationships there, especially during the non-meeting portions of the meeting where people have an opportunity to interact socially.

Another brick in the foundation for collaboration is to help home-based employees not feel invisible. Being the only voice on the Polycom phone in the center of the conference room table is tough when all the other meeting participants can see each other. Promote a meeting culture that’s consciously inclusive of remote callers and gives them a chance to weigh in on the conversation.

If there are company events they don’t customarily attend because of travel, don’t forget your home-based employees exist. When Tribe helped plan a global employee event that occurred on the same day in 28 offices around the world, we sent the small minority of home-based employees an event in a box. They received a package (no doubt delivered by their buddy the UPS guy) that included the same T-shirt everyone else received at the event, plus the themed collateral, printed buttons, a noisemaker and even a cookie.

Those sorts of tactics may not seem directly tied to promoting collaboration. They may even feel a little fluffy. But you can’t just tell people “Okay, now collaborate.” First, you have to help them feel comfortable doing so. Not so ironically, there’s a clear business benefit to treating all those office-based employees with common courtesy and kindness.

Interested in building engagement and collaboration in your work force? Tribe can help.

For internal comms, choose your weapon carefully

When you’re talking to employees, should you be thinking rifle or shotgun? Marketing folks often refer to the advantages of a targeted rifle shot rather than a shotgun approach, but in internal communications, the reverse is more likely to get the job done.

You can reach some people with every channel but you can’t reach everyone with just one channel. Consider the differences in media preferences. Most millennial employees use their mobile devices more than their computers. Non-desk workers in manufacturing, retail and other industries where employees are largely offline are probably not going to be spending a lot of time on your intranet.

Besides generational differences and the physical realities of certain jobs, employees will have their own personal preferences. Just like some people prefer real books to Kindles, some employees still like to be able to touch and hold their communications. Some will welcome internal communications sent to their personal mobile devices; others will hate that. Almost all those employees with a company email address would prefer to receive less of it.

Even the same employee will prefer certain communications one way and other types of communications another. Is it urgent? Maybe a text or email is the right channel. Is the communication articulating the company vision and values? They might rather be able to flip through a printed piece for that. Is it a quick tip or nice-to-know company news? Some employees might click on that when they visit the intranet. Others, who don’t spend much time on the intranet, might rather see that information as they’re walking by digital signage.

Think also about a channel to give employees a voice. Make sure you’re providing at least one channel for employees to share a question, concern or idea with leadership. And put a process in place for employees to get a reply. Posing a question that seems to fall into a black hole is worse than not being able to ask the question at all.

Are you developing a communications plan to reach more of your employees? Tribe can help.

Look for unexpected touch points to communicate with offline workers

Do you think your frontline, manufacturing or retail employees don’t notice that you’re not talking to them? They do, according to Tribe’s research with non-desk employees of large companies nationwide.

Even worse, they interpret a lack of internal communications as a lack of respect. When non-desk workers don’t hear from their company leadership, they assume it’s because their day-to-day contributions to the company’s success are simply not valued at the top.

Of course, it’s not easy to reach all those employees who aren’t sitting in front of computers all day. But that’s not a great excuse not to try. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

At Tribe, we recommend looking for touch points that are unique to your employee population. It helps to go out to the plant or the store or the hotel. Walk in the employees’ shoes, go through the paces of their days. Where do they enter the building when they come to work? Where do they eat lunch? Where do they park? Are they driving a truck, operating machinery, loading boxes or standing on a retail floor?  We look for touch points that might be less obvious than a poster in the break room.

Over the years, we’ve come up with some pretty weird touch points to reach non-desk employees. Can you pre-load the trucks the night before with a rearview mirror hangtag? Can you put signage inside the van they ride to work from the off-site parking lot? Can you use floor decals? Window clings on restroom mirrors? Fortune cookies?

You need to understand the physical environment to find those untapped touch points. The trick is to get out from behind your desk and go see what it’s like out there. If you’ve already done that and have come up with some really smart touch points, we’d love to hear about it.

Looking for new ways to reach your non-desk audience? Tribe can help.

TRIBE TRIVIA: Non-Desk Employees’ Contributions to Company Success

Q: True or False: Non-desk employees, such as those on the manufacturing line or in the retail stores, see a direct link between their work and the success of the company vision.

A: False, for 78 percent of them, according to Tribe’s national research with non-desk employees. Only 22 percent of respondents said they feel their job is important to the company vision. Only 10% feel strongly connected to the company itself at all, with almost half, at 47 percent, saying they feel connected only to their immediate work group.

For more information about this study, see Tribe’s white papers and other resources on the expertise page of tribeinc.com, or contact Steve Baskin, President and Chief of Strategy at Tribe. 

Including everyone: Scale employee events for smaller offices and remote employees

Employee events are a fantastic way to build engagement. At Tribe, we often recommend events at the launch of a new enterprise strategy, leadership vision or rebranding. They provide an experience for employees that is unlike anything we can do through print or digital or even video channels.

But it’s tempting to focus the event just on those working 9-5 at the corporate headquarters. Those in other geographic locations, or in call centers, or working night shifts are often deemed just to difficult to include for a wide range of reasons. Home-based employees are usually excluded as well. After all, how can you create an event for one person?

At Tribe, we’ve found ways to include all those employee populations in events in meaningful ways. Here are three tips to expanding your reach when planning an employee event:

  1. Scale the event materials by office: Although it may not be practical to stage an event of the same magnitude in every global outpost, you can scale back the materials and activities to suit. We recently worked with a client on a rebranding event. The corporate headquarters was the epicenter of the happenings, but we threw similar events simultaneously in another US office and in a few smaller European offices. Working with a representative from each location, we determined the appropriate number of elements and the right agenda for each.
  2. Find ways to accommodate employees who can’t attend when everybody else does: When we worked on a vision event with a large healthcare system on the west coast, we had to consider that all the doctors and nurses couldn’t come strolling over to the event at the same time. Likewise, those working the graveyard shifts would miss the whole thing. So instead of what otherwise have been a two-hour window for the event, we stretched the time period so that people could come whenever they had a break in the action. This approach is also helpful with call centers or other locations where somebody’s got to be manning the fort at all times. For the night shifts, we held a separate event and instead of serving lunch, we served midnight hotdogs and barbecue. You wouldn’t believe how much it meant to those people that we staged an event in the middle of the night, just to make sure they weren’t left out.
  3. Send remote employees a mini-event: Often we’ll ship individual events-in-a-box to home-based employees. It might include a letter from the CEO on the cultural or business milestone the event is meant to mark, the same branded swag available at the event — from t-shirts to travel coffee mugs — and even refreshments, such as a branded cookie or box of mints. Recently, we included a confetti cannon to add a festive note to the at-home celebrations. We’ve also included online scavenger hunts when launching a new intranet and themed photo contests. Home-based employees can participate in those activities the same way those in the corporate office do.

Interested in learning how to engage more people in your employee events? Tribe can  help.

Do discovery to determine the gap

Do you know the gap between what you want employees to know and feel and what they actually think and feel right now? As you’re developing a communications strategy for any major initiative, whether the topic to be communicated is a major change or the company vision or anything else, you need to understand their current point of view.

The typical engagement survey may not tell you how far away your current reality is from your desired reality. To understand that, you need to ask questions specific to the issue at hand, and to listen for the nuances of what employees are really saying.  For that you need more than quantifiable data. You need qualitative conversations.

Time consuming though it may be, focus groups and personal interviews can help you get at the back story. For instance, we once worked with a company that had recently hired a very charismatic and energizing CEO. He was fantastic, and all the survey data indicated that employees’ opinions of him were very high.

But over the course of a handful of focus groups with employees in a wide range of functions, seniority and geography, an interesting theme emerged. Yes, employees thought the new CEO was awesome and they supported the new vision he brought to the organization. Although there also seemed to be an undercurrent of stress, not about the changes he was making, but about their own workloads.

This seemed curious, especially since there had been no layoffs associated with the new CEOs tenure. People still had largely the same job responsibilities they had under the former CEO.

As we invited employees to speak to this undercurrent of stress we had noticed, we learned something we would never have uncovered through survey questions. For one thing, we wouldn’t have known to ask about it.

Employees were stressed because they couldn’t keep up with the CEO. This was a man who seemed to need little sleep, who was at work early and stayed late, who could move from town hall to public appearance to site visits without ever seeming to tire. Although he had no expectation of employees keeping the same kind of schedules, they assumed he did.

That’s something we could address in the communications strategy. It revealed the gap between what leadership wanted employees to think and feel and what they really were thinking and feeling. Knowledge of that gap provided an important perspective for developing communications related to the culture the new CEO wanted to create.

Interested in learning more about your communications gaps? Tribe can help.