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Want Engaged Employees? First Quantify Your Company Culture

Employee analytics is based on the philosophy that mission-driven companies with a clear vision and a shared set of values perform best. Likewise, employees who have a purpose and feel valued are much more likely to be happier and perform better.

So the key to a happy, productive and driven organization is to manage company culture proactively. The goal of employee culture analytics is first and foremost to help companies identify their core values, to quantify those values, and then finally to help managers understand, maintain and clearly communicate those strengths and values to their employees.

A leadership team may have a sense of where their culture is, or at least where they’d like it to be. But by surveying employees, you start to get a sense of how well that culture has been communicated, and how clearly it has been defined. By offering their perception of the company, employees are actually reporting back to the management and showing what they perceive on the ground floor. That can be very educational and empowering for everyone.

There are no right or wrong answers, but this sort of information can help an organization either maintain the culture as they grow, or evolve it in a thoughtful way that incorporates everyone’s individual perspectives.

The companies looking for this sort of solution are typically growing fast or have many specific hiring needs that would otherwise make scaling the hiring process nearly impossible. At Pomello, we’ve surveyed a range of different companies to find out what went wrong when they made a hire that didn’t work out. The vast majority of them identified culture fit or other “soft factors” as the critical mistake. It wasn’t that these companies didn’t assess a candidate’s skillset. It was that they didn’t assess whether or not a new hire would assimilate well into the company culture.

How do we define culture?

Companies struggle to identify a good culture fit because culture can be nebulous and difficult to define.  Many companies don’t have a consistent way to identify their shared values in a candidate. Everyone has their own yardstick, so any feedback on fit is just apples-to-oranges. The need for a consistent framework is what drives this focus on culture analytics and led our development of a robust and research-backed solution.

Then there’s the cost associated with hiring. It’s an expensive undertaking, both implicitly and explicitly, when you’re asking team members to take time to do interviews. This is even more true if your company is growing fast. Because of this, one question we wanted to solve for was, how can we identify the best candidates earlier on in the hiring process?

Even if an individual’s experience and skillset are a good match, there’s essentially no point to interviewing a candidate who just isn’t invested in the company’s mission. By starting with a clear definition of the company’s culture, a hiring manager can see how candidates will share your organization’s goals and work towards that mission.

Consider your hiring funnel

If you look at the hiring process as a sales funnel, you start with a high volume of candidates early on. By asking all job applicants to submit an assessment, the hiring manager gets a really clear, high-level score that can predict how each candidate will fit within the organization. They can then use this to prioritize which candidates to interview first.

After screening for candidates who pass a certain bar, hiring managers often wonder, who do we focus on next? Research has shown that factors such as GPAs or where someone went to school aren’t as predictive as they seem. Instead, managers can use the assessment score to identify high-fit potential employees and decide whom to interview first.

In the middle of your hiring funnel, this data can bring consistency to the process. When all your hiring managers and interviewers are using the same ruler to measure a candidate, you get much better feedback. The framework can provide everything from general guidance to specific interview questions.

At the very bottom of the funnel, the company has identified some strong candidates, and is ready to make an offer. At this point, the information that company has gathered on this candidate can be extremely valuable in understanding what motivates that person and who they are.

Rather than making an offer that only includes commodities like compensation and benefits, the company can use this information to appeal to what really motivates that individual on an emotional level. Using data allows a hiring manager to make the most compelling case possible to a potential new hire. It also helps them back up claims like, “we think you would make a great fit here, and here’s why,” or, “here are the things that are really well aligned between who you are and what we’re looking for in an employee.” You can truly sell that candidate on your company, rather than dangling perks in front of them.

Happiness is more than just great perks

Through Pomello’s organizational behavior research, we’ve found that people are more motivated by intrinsic benefits like shared values and mission, rather than extrinsic benefits like compensation and perks. People tend to assume that everyone will jump for a higher paycheck, but that’s incorrect. As humans, we tend to be more motivated by the intangibles, especially in the long run.

What we see often is companies enter into arms races, competing to provide the most extravagant perks and benefits. But those are extrinsic benefits and they have a short lifespan for motivating people. Employees may get excited by the initial dopamine rush of a new perk, but that feeling quickly leads to a feeling of entitlement. What’s worse, if your company can no longer provide that perk, then the management has to deal with employee backlash.

A company’s culture, on the other hand, is defined by the intrinsic benefits, like having a team of people aligned around a shared goal. Culture defines how that organization values and rewards a specific set of behaviors on the part of its employees. An individual who fits within that culture feels valued and rewarded for who they are, and that can be a deeply validating and motivational thing for people. It also has a much longer lifespan than just a free lunch.

An ideal, happy employee is one who is understands the company’s mission and feels emotionally invested in the success of that organization on a daily basis. It’s someone who understands how to be successful within a company. By clearly defining the company culture, an organization sends a message that they are engaged with their employees, growing in a smart way, and ultimately setting the company on a path to success.

This is a guest post from Catherine Spence, Co-Founder and Head of Product at Pomello. Pomello is an HR technology tool that measures company culture and provides actionable analytics so leaders can improve team functionality. Check out @mscbspence and @Pomello to  follow their journey.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank.

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