The concept of a “company culture” is being talked about a lot in mastermind classes and by business gurus. It’s a bit like what marketers call “your brand,” meaning the personality of your business. But a brand is often outer directed, focused on customer perception and customer service. Possibly interactions with referrers as well.
Your company culture is more internally focused, emphasizing staff interactions with each other and what it feels like to be an employee (or member of the team, if you hire independent contractors).
Stand out from the crowd
If you are looking for new staff, with the labor market as tight as it is, it behooves you to be sure your company culture is obvious and authentic. Job candidates have many options to choose from. You can still compete even if you don’t offer the best salary and benefits package. Check out our previous blog post on People, Path, Pretzel, and Purpose to learn how.
How to make your culture visible
You can start with describing your culture directly on your website. For example, include these on your About Us page:
- Mission statement. A concise explanation of the purpose of the company, why you exist.
- Vision statement. An aspirational image that challenges staff to think big about what the organization can achieve.
- Core values. Related to a code of ethics, these are fundamental principles that offer a moral compass, assisting employees to make wise and appropriate decisions when applied to the business situations they confront.
Policies and procedures can also reflect your culture:
- Dress code
- Flexible hours
- Remote work
- Sexual harassment policies
- Social justice initiatives
Craft your ad to highlight the Four Ps
Look at the ads of businesses competing for the same staff—nurses, social workers, CNAs. Does anyone stick out? What can you do to seem the most appealing? Rather than focus solely on all the requirements, in a competitive labor market you want to emphasize your culture:
- People: What does it feel like to be part of the staff? The team?
- Path: Is there room for professional growth (if not vertically, then in exploring new skills)?
- Pretzel: What do you offer in terms of flexibility (flexible scheduling, casual dress code, remote work)?
- Purpose: How do your services genuinely make a difference in people’s lives?
Show, don’t tell
Of course, you want to overtly tell prospective employees what’s different and special about your company as a place to work. But they are also going to be looking at your public media to get their own sense of your culture.
Review these platforms. What do you currently express? As an outsider, what would your impressions be about people, path, pretzel, and purpose? Are there areas you might want to emphasize more strongly to give an authentic picture of what it’s like to be part of the staff?
Consider some of these ideas:
Your company brand (the personality with customers) will dictate much of the style of your website, but there should be alignment between your inner-directed and outer-directed culture. For instance, if you picked three adjectives you would hope customers would use to describe your company, these should be reflected in the colors and graphics you choose, the layout of the site, and the text you use. Now pick three adjectives you would hope your staff would use to describe working at your company. They don’t have to be the same, but one would hope they are not contradictory. As with your brand, colors, graphics, text, etc., they will reflect your company culture.
- Do you share success stories? (Pretzel and Purpose) Do you feature blogposts and photos that show happy members of your team engaged in activities that bring joy to your clients? What might people indirectly glean from these elements about general working conditions—dress code, independence, creativity, staff satisfaction?
- Do members of your staff get a photo and bio? (People) Is it all business, or is there room for them to express their individuality? Maybe they can write in the last few sentences about what they do in their off time. Do the photos show everyone in professional dress (nothing wrong with this) or is there a more casual style?
- Do you include quotes from staff on your job openings page? (People) What better than a testimonial from current employees! Of course, the statements need to be genuine. But they aren’t too hard to come by. If you do an annual review of employees or contractors, ask them what they like best about working for your company. If there’s a jewel of a quote, see if they will give you permission to include it on the website. (You might be tempted to ask employees to give your company a Google Review as a great place to work. That’s a no-no! Google will remove it because it could be that there was coercion involved. Can an employee really give you anything but five stars publicly without worrying that their job might be in jeopardy if they honestly told the world you deserved less?)
- Is professional excellence celebrated? (Path) Do you mention awards or publications by staff, professional memberships, leadership positions? Do you blog about state-of the-art findings in eldercare to demonstrate your company’s continuing development?
Prospective employees research your company using social media. They are looking for the less-polished and less-scrubbed version of who you are. It used to be they went to Facebook to see if you were up enough on current trends to have a company Facebook page. But Facebook has become totally mainstream. Now it’s Instagram (or TikTok, if you are hoping to get the attention of very young employees).
Instagram is the social network of choice for Millennials and Gen Z. Not your clients or their children, but definitely the demographic of your employees. According to Pew Internet studies, 71% of adults between age 18 and 29 use Instagram, as do 48% of adults between 30 and 49. Compare that to 29% of those age 50–64. Plus, the tenor of Instagram tends to focus on company culture, from staff photos to interesting tidbits from your field.
Don’t ignore Facebook and LinkedIn, though. They need to have posts that are more than just ads for current job openings. (If that’s all you are posting, you look desperate!) Even a Google My Business (GMB) page is a great place to publish your blogs or status updates, because anyone who googles your company will see your GMB panel and check it out.
Here are some thoughts for expressing your culture on social media:
- Post about a staff celebration or team event. (People) Your holiday party or a community service activity you did as a group (Walk to End Alzheimer’s or making a meal together for a hospice family).
- Celebrate National Nurses Month (May) or National Social Work Month (March). (People) Post about each of your nurses or social workers and how much they add to the team.
- Post photos of the team at conferences. (Path) Show the enjoyment felt by your staff in the middle of their own professional development.
- Celebrate milestones. (Path) When an employee reaches a work anniversary, achieves a new certification, or gets a promotion, let the world know how proud you are of them.
- Post about success stories. (Purpose) Take the photos from the success story blogs on your website and add teasers or a quote from the client, then link back to the full story. (I didn’t mention it before, thinking it goes without saying, but you do need to get written permission to use a photo and/or the name of a client. It’s not only polite, but both are considered protected health information under HIPAA regulations. For that matter, get written consent from staff as well if you are going to use their photos or tell their stories. It’s not a HIPAA issue, but just good publishing practice.)
- Show the more-personal side of your business. (Pretzel) The inside scoop is always fun. A snapshot of the office dog. Cookies in the lunch room. Bring your daughter to work day. A staff member with their kids on vacation. Someone working from home with their cat on their lap or surrounded with toddler paraphernalia. To the degree that you are comfortable with it, be willing to show your looser side. Even your clients will enjoy getting a glimpse behind the curtain now and then.
Print and other publications
There are many other media where you intentionally, or inadvertently, express elements of your company culture. Consider reviewing them to see if maybe it’s time to make a greater effort to express your appreciation. (It’s also good business sense. It’s less expensive and time consuming to keep a good employee than it is to find and train a new one!)
- Feature an employee of the month in your newsletter. (People) Make it obvious to staff, and the public, how much you value your team members. Highlight particular strengths you want to emphasize in your culture. All it needs is a photo, their name, and a single sentence about the person’s unique contribution to the company. As an added treat, give a $25 gift certificate to each month’s winner.
- Thank your staff with an ad in the local senior news. (People) You will give a boost to the staff as well as get positive attention for your business. (Clients inherently understand that a company that treats its employees well has happier employees who generally give better service.) Again, National Nurses Month (May), National Social Work Month (March), or Aging Life Care Manager® Month (May) are all great excuses.
- Become an “Employer of Choice”. If you own a home care company, consider the services of Home Care Pulse. This third-party service interviews employees to get a sense of their satisfaction levels on a variety of metrics. You receive anonymized feedback that helps you improve working conditions and company culture (if needed) and reduce staff turnover. And if you hit their threshold, you can receive their “Employer of Choice” Award, which includes listing on their website and decals you can put on your website, brochures, etc. This not only speaks to potential employees, but also formally acknowledges the connection between happy employees and high customer satisfaction.