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Posted on April 9, 2018

Sharing Your Company’s Cultural Story

Choosing a new intranet

“What’s it really like to work here?”

It’s a question that every talented, driven employee ponders when considering his or her next move. If you want to hire (and retain) the best people, you need to have an answer — and better yet — a story to share.

Prospective employees want to understand what it means and what it takes to work at your company; New hires need to learn how to be successful there from day one; Your current team craves a way to see how their work connects to the bigger picture.

Companies like Netflix and Valve have become famous for the transparent stories they tell about their culture. (If you haven’t seen the latest from Netflix, check it out here.)

Yet, our research found that while 89% of participants say the interview process made them excited about working for their company, 23% felt misled by it — and those who did were more likely to be disengaged.

Telling a candid story about your culture can be one of the best ways to overcome misperceptions, while also inspiring and motivating your people.

Here’s how you can share your cultural story:

Consider creating something tangible: Elements of your cultural story are probably all around: your mission is in the lobby, your values are on your intranet landing page, and your vacation policy is in your handbook. However, pulling together all these elements into one cohesive artifact can be powerful.

Think outside the deck: Again, Netflix made a big splash with their culture deck in 2009, but PowerPoint is not the only medium. Consider a video, animation, infographic, brochure, or booklet.

Stop talking like a robot: Use real, everyday language to connect with people. Sounding important isn’t actually useful.

Be real: If something is hard, say it. If everyone works at a breakneck speed, be honest. If you’re going through a lot of change, explain that. You want people joining and staying at your company who can thrive in whatever chaos you have.

Do some gut checking: Culture is a tricky, somewhat ambiguous thing. Do not define your culture without participation from other people in different groups and at different levels. Your goal is to balance aspiration with accuracy.

Beware of branding: If you have an established employer brand, check back to see if it feels cohesive with the cultural story you need to tell. For a brand to be effective, it needs to be accurate.

Make updates: And remember, you’ll never really be done. Just as the work you do evolves, so does your organization’s culture.

So what do you have to lose? By telling your cultural story in a way that is inspiring, motivating, cohesive, and grounded in reality, you’ll be able to recruit, hire and retain people who can do their best work at your organization.

 

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Sara Howland