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The Culture Series [Part 4] – Implementing an Inclusive Culture

inclusive culture, inclusive, diversity, culture, company culture, recruiting, retention, inclusion

In the second and third articles of the series, we talked about the four competencies that are key to the organization’s cultural identity. Once that happens, the work isn’t over. Future policies, procedures and strategies need to reflect how trends will impact the organization over time. For example, if the organization is planning to expand into the Latin American market in the next 5 years, what is the company doing today in terms of understanding the Latin American culture to ensure their success?

inclusiveness, inclusion, diversity, culture, graph, competitive advantage

One of the biggest challenges to creating an inclusive culture is the nebulous nature of diversity training and activities. The chief complaints are that the business definition for diversity isn’t well-defined (which we talked about in the first post of the series) and focuses too much on legal and compliance issues, which is one of the reasons we’re not talking about them in this series.

I had the opportunity to hear Corey Anthony, senior vice president of business services at AT&T, talked about bias at a conference earlier this year. He said that it’s very hard for companies to know everyone’s biases. But that organizations can create an environment where people are able to discuss bias, focus on behaviors and changing behaviors, and create opportunities to listen and not label.

This doesn’t mean that diversity training efforts should be eliminated. In fact, it’s a call to action that diversity programs gain clearer focus to become more effective. A few elements to concentrate on when developing diversity training include:

  • Clear objectives and expectations
  • Participant engagement before, during and after the session
  • Opportunities for open discussion and dialogue
  • Creative activities and sharing within a safe environment
  • Facilitation of hot-topics and challenging conversation that emerges during the session
  • Support and positive energy by everyone involved

While there are clear recruiting and retention benefits to creating an inclusive culture, it’s important to recognize that this isn’t exclusively about recruiting or retention. It’s about transforming the culture of the company into one that’s customer-centric, business-focused, and leadership-focused. If you haven’t seen it, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, made headlines with his speech about race relations and defense of Black Lives Matter.

It’s clear that having a diverse workforce and creating an inclusionary culture yield huge rewards for companies. The challenge is clearly defining what that means for your unique corporate culture, designing efforts that align with the business goals and constantly measuring and evaluating results.

Organizations need to consciously revisit their efforts to ensure they are creating a sustainable culture. Maintaining an inclusive culture is not a one-time conversation. Companies will want to evaluate their energies at several levels on a regular basis. A few questions you should consider:

  • How can the company attract and retain the talent necessary to meet our current and future business goals?
  • How can the corporate culture support the products and services our customers want?
  • How can the organization drive innovation and growth by leveraging our diversity efforts?
  • How can we expand our business reach into new markets?

William Morgan, former senior vice president of human resources at NASDAQ, shared how their cultural transformation translated into business success. “We saw how we could better leverage our diversity efforts to impact our business bottom-line. Not only did we identify our opportunities to improve, but we provided specific measurable actions we can take along with easy-to-measure outcomes. We found ideas were practical and well aligned with our other business priorities.”

Successful organizations understand that inclusion is not optional – it’s a business imperative that gives them a competitive advantage with stakeholders at every level: customers, suppliers, partners, and employees. Diversity and inclusion are no longer programs within an organization. They are infused within the culture of the company and drive business outcomes.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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