The Importance of Company Culture When Attracting Talent


Why is company culture important?

What aspects of company culture are most desirable to new candidates?

How to demonstrate the benefits of your company culture

How to improve your company culture to attract great talent

Implementing employee wellbeing programmes

The Importance of Company Culture When Attracting Talent

It’s never been easy attracting high-quality talent, and it’s getting even harder.

People expect more from their employers today, and organisations that want to hire the best people need to go further than competitive pay. They need to create a company culture that supports employee wellbeing, including physical, financial and mental health.

It can be difficult to define exactly what the ‘culture’ of an organisation is, but broadly it can be described as ‘the way we do business’. This includes the values that affect the work environment, management, company communications, workplace practices and much more.

So why is company culture important, and how does organisational culture affect recruitment?


Why is company culture important?

The benefits of hiring people that are a good cultural fit are clear. Research found that it leads to improved job performance, reduced staff turnover and increased respect for the company. However, you can’t make hires that are a cultural fit if you don’t know what your culture is.

There are a number of benefits for organisations that put the time into working on their culture:

  1. It sets out your identity and goals as an organisation, and helps employees work towards these goals too.
  2. A strong company culture attracts better talent and helps you retain that talent. A study on the subject found that employees who fit in well at an organisation have greater job satisfaction and are more likely to stay for longer.
  3. Company culture is closely linked to brand image, and a positive culture will help to enhance your brand’s reputation.


What aspects of company culture are most desirable to new candidates?

Defining your company culture is a project that takes time, but here are some of the things the best candidates are looking for from their employers:

1. Clear company goals

Your employees want to know that they’re contributing to something and that their work has meaning. However, a study by TINYpulse found that less than half (42%) of employees knew what the mission, vision and cultural values of their organisation were.

Communicating the company’s goals and values should be central to the hiring process, including within the job ad and the interview process. When setting goals for new hires, you should explain how they relate back to the overall mission.

2. Autonomy

People don’t like to be micromanaged, and having the autonomy to make their own decisions and take the initiative on projects is important, especially to self-motivated top performers.

3. Caring about their wellbeing

The modern job candidate wants to know that a company cares about them as individuals, not just as another cog in a machine. According to Helene Westerlind, CEO of Zurich Insurance Group’s LiveWell, ‘the days of considering people as just a workforce are over.’

Research for a report published by Zurich and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, ‘Shaping a brighter future of work’, found that employees welcome and expect support with their physical, mental and financial wellbeing.

This goes beyond talking about wellbeing — organisations need to put their money where their mouth is.

Invest in solutions such as employee benefits platforms for incentivising and rewarding success, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) for support with mental wellbeing, and financial benefits such as employee discounts and salary sacrifice schemes.


How to demonstrate the benefits of your company culture

Devising a strong set of company values is only half the battle — you also have to be able to demonstrate it in order to attract the best talent. Organisations often outline their culture in the company handbook and in other promotional literature, but actions speak louder than words.

Robert Walters’ Cultural Fit whitepaper mentioned above shows there’s often a disconnect. The research found that 87% of employers offer an induction to new staff on company culture and values, but that 67% of employees felt they’d been misled.

The values you hold as a business need to be embodied by senior management, with company initiatives and programmes put in place to make them a reality. 

For example, if promoting good mental health is a core value, put in place an Employee Assistance Programme. If upskilling and employee development is a part of your culture, make sure you provide ample training opportunities for everyone.


How to improve your company culture to attract great talent

If you think your company culture, or how you communicate it with candidates, is holding back your ability to attract great talent, start by auditing your current culture.

This audit should evaluate the working environment, identify how employees are interacting with each other, and highlight barriers to working more effectively. Note that it’s not about measuring team or individual performance — if one of your values is working together, but there’s a breakdown in communication between teams, it’s a sign of a flawed culture, not the fault of those teams.

Some organisations bring in third parties to audit their culture, but if you’re conducting it internally, here are three things you should do:

1. Observe

Walk around the office and make a mental note of what you see. Consider:

  • Office layout and how it reflects relationships between employees and teams
  • Office morale — do people seem happy and engaged, or withdrawn and discouraged?

2. Survey

Conduct an anonymous employee survey asking them for feedback on company culture. How do the responses fit with what you observed in the office?

Ask employees if:

  • They understand what the company’s goals are and how what they do contributes to those goals.
  • They understand and share the company’s values.
  • They’re committed to and feel proud to be a member of their team and the company as a whole.
  • The company makes them feel valued for the work they do.
  • They feel supported by their managers and senior leadership. Do they feel they can get problems resolved if and when they arise?

3. Interviews

Following the survey, conduct one-to-one interviews with employees to get deeper insights on company culture. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to interview everyone, so choose a representative sample.

Use the results of the survey to inform the sort of questions you ask during the interviews.


Implementing employee wellbeing programmes

One of the fastest ways to improve company culture is by investing in schemes and programmes that demonstrate that you care about your employees’ wellbeing.

Sodexo Engage offers a wide range of products that directly benefit your employees, as well as solutions that improve physical, mental and financial wellbeing.

Physical wellbeing

We can offer discounted gym memberships and cycle-to-work schemes to help employees prioritise their physical wellbeing and live healthier lifestyles.

Cycle-to-work schemes benefit your staff financially too, as they are a salary sacrifice scheme that can save them up to 42% on tax and NI contributions.

Mental wellbeing

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides access to accredited counsellors who are trained to deal with a wide range of mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression.

Financial wellbeing

As well as our cycle-to-work scheme we offer a wide range of employee discounts and other financial benefits that can be used to incentivise and reward success. This includes money off big-ticket items like cars and holidays, as well as money off the weekly shop thanks to exclusive discounts at a fantastic network of top retailers.

Organisations that fail to foster a positive company culture that prioritises the wellbeing of their employees are not only going to struggle to attract the best talent — they’re going to find it hard to retain it.

Our leading range of employee benefits and wellbeing programmes will clearly demonstrate a commitment to your staff’s physical, mental and financial wellbeing, while cultivating a company culture that people want to be a part of.

Ready to find out more about how Sodexo Engage can help improve your company culture and attract the best talent? Get in touch with the team.