7 of the Best Insights on Building an Effective Corporate Culture

Across industries, companies are learning that a strong corporate culture that values and develops the company’s own human capital is an essential asset in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Experts point out that employees who feel that their values and those of their companies are well-aligned are more likely to work at peak performance and help the organization to grow.

Read on for some important insights into the importance of a company culture.


  1. Building—and fixing—corporate culture

In their 2011 book Corporate Culture and Performance, John P. Kotter and James L. Heskett provide a comprehensive overview of the ways in which a company’s culture can either foster its economic success or create problems. Their research, focused on the cultures at major firms such as Hewlett-Packard, Nissan, Xerox, and hundreds of others, resulted in a range of insights about how positive and negative qualities of organizational cultures emerge and cement themselves over time.

One of the key takeaways of Kotter and Heskett’s book is their insight that “strong” organizational cultures do not automatically lead to exceptional economic performance. They point out that although a number of common norms and best practices can often foster success, these same traits can exist within cultures that have become overly bureaucratic, solipsistic, and dysfunctional, leading to a difficulty in embracing beneficial change. Furthermore, even when a corporate culture aligns well with a company’s strategic plan, it must still be able to adapt to shifts in markets and against a dynamic competitive background.

In any case, Kotter and Heskett advocate for increasing the quality of leadership as an essential step toward building a healthy organizational culture and keeping it responsive to ongoing challenges. The heads of the successful companies they studied focused on delivering strong, positive, and relevant new vision statements while modeling strong leadership and a customer-focused attitude for their managers and staff at each tier of the organization. This type of responsive leadership not only creates a high-functioning corporate culture, but it can go a long way toward repairing one that has become ineffective.




  1. Creating a supportive culture

In a 2017 interview with Time, author and HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington outlined some of the qualities she finds important to fostering a strong and effective organizational culture. One of these is a concentration on transparency and openness. When leadership is open about problems, the company is better able to correct and learn from these mistakes—often even recognizing and addressing challenges before they become major problems.

Huffington also emphasized a topic much discussed in business circles today: building a support system to help managers and staff (top executives included) to avoid burnout and achieve a workable balance among responsibilities in all areas of their lives.


  1. Focusing on staff-driven ideas

A 2018 piece in Forbes magazine offered a list of practical actions, sourced from experienced CEOs, that companies can take to bolster the effectiveness of their cultures.

One company, dataxu, holds an annual “Innovation Day,” in which staff forgo their usual duties to work on various prototypes and concept development projects. After the innovation teams demonstrate their products, the whole group votes for the ones they like best. The company has already put more than half the Innovation Day ideas into practice.




  1. Being flexible to nurture new insights

Another item from the Forbes article advocates allowing staff to work from home or another off-site location. Some companies even allow staff to plan working vacations abroad and use online tools such as Slack to stay in the loop on important projects. Employees appreciate the flexibility, and they return with fresh perspectives.


  1. Setting perks according to values

Brett Farmiloe, the CEO and founder of Markitors, stresses the importance of making sure that employee perks are in line with overall organizational values. One of his company’s values is “You Are Unique,” and in recognition of everyone’s individuality, each employee receives a paid day off on their birthday.

Other ideas for perks include sponsoring community engagement through company volunteerism, providing generous opportunities to use time off, and offering casual spaces that foster conversation, such as a coffee bar or break room.


The best way to improve productivity in companies

courtesy of Zorgnetwerk Nederland


  1. Flattening hierarchies to enhance communication

The 2018 book Entrepreneur Voices on Corporate Culture, by the staff of Entrepreneur magazine, points out that a company’s culture is defined starting at the top.

The book suggests flattening out hierarchies and communication structures, which can ensure that a greater range of voices and opinions are heard by top management, leaving employees with the freedom to express themselves without fear of retribution. This method also gives leaders the opportunity to learn of potential problems from those who often see them first: the staff working at the front lines of the organization.

The book also notes that successful corporate cultures foster collaboration, strategic risk-taking, informed decision-making, and trust and respect among all levels of a company.


  1. Establishing a shared vision

Among its other lessons for CEOs, the Entrepreneur book notes that corporate culture is formed at a much deeper level than that of perks, as welcome as those may be.

In order to become truly successful and competitive in its field, a company should concentrate on establishing a foundation of shared vision, principles, and goals on how it does business, as well as how it treats its employees, customers, and the wider community.


How to Expand Benefits Packages to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

While salary traditionally has been considered the big draw in attracting talent, to compete for employees in today’s culture, companies should give benefits a central role in their recruiting strategies. Employees often place great value on non-salary benefits such as health insurance and flexible schedules, and employers should carefully think through what benefits they want to offer and how they will market those benefits to potential employees. This can be especially important in attracting and retaining millennials, who have a different viewpoint on what constitutes an appealing job than previous generations.

Large technology companies, in particular, are rethinking benefits. Matthew Gregson, senior vice president of Thomsons Online Benefits, described their philosophy to HR magazine.

“There’s a significant focus on supporting employees’ life goals, their wellbeing and giving them a great experience in the workplace, and those things are manifest in the culture,” he said.


Prioritizing benefits


A recent Randstad U.S. survey, which polled more than 750 employees, reveals how important good benefits can be to employee job satisfaction.

Only about 40 percent of employees surveyed said they were satisfied with their company benefits, and only about half of the employees surveyed even knew about all of their benefits. Almost all of the respondents preferred benefits that would increase their quality of life.

Some of the survey’s results indicated that good benefits—especially those sponsored by the employer—could more effectively attract talent than a high salary. More than 65 percent of respondents said that the quality of benefits and perks determined whether they accepted a job offer, and 61 percent said they would take a lower paying job if it offered good benefits. About 40 percent of respondents said that they were thinking about leaving their current job because the benefits were poor, and 55 percent had quit a job when they found a new job with better benefits. Respondents listed health insurance as the most important benefit, followed by early Friday dismissals, the option to work remotely or integrate a flexible schedule, and onsite perks such as a gym.

In a talk at the 2018 Society for Human Resources (SHRM) annual conference, SHRM CEO Johnny C. Taylor argued that human resources departments should provide leadership in areas such as benefits and compensation, training and development, and creating an inclusive workplace culture—otherwise, he said, companies may outsource these functions. As HR departments set the tone for a company’s image and benefits, they will play a key role in whether their company can successfully recruit quality employees.


Beyond salary


Here are some workplace benefits that can enhance a company’s image and reputation as it seeks to attract the attention of top talent.

Student debt pay-down plans: The Randstad U.S. survey showed that about 40 percent of respondents ages 18-24 wished that their companies offered student loan repayment assistance.  This benefit can be significant for recent college graduates, whose student loan payments may be tying up money they could use for a down payment on a home or car.

Employers can offer student loan repayment benefits by contributing money each year toward an employee’s student loans. Because of their age, millennials aren’t as interested in top-of-the-line health insurance plans as older employees and are too far removed from retirement to prioritize an employer-matching 401(k) plan. For them, student debt repayment plans can be a major draw, as this benefit has a more immediate impact on their monthly budget.


Flexible work schedule: All workers, but especially millennials, aren’t as interested in jobs that require them to sit at a desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many value independence and control over their own time, and workplace flexibility allows employees to have a say in their work schedule.

For many employees, this means the ability to occasionally work from home, which can be especially important for parents who need to be available during the day sometimes to care for a sick child or attend an event at their child’s school. Other types of flexible schedules include flex-time, which requires a set number of hours and workload each week, but gives the employee the option as to when to complete the work. Compressed workweeks similarly allow employees to fulfill a 40-hour workweek in four 10-hour workdays.


Professional development: This benefit can be especially important for drawing young, ambitious employees who want to develop their careers and move into higher positions. Companies that offer mentorships, training programs, educational opportunities, and team-building events show potential employees that they are invested in their learning and success. This kind of culture also promotes a sense of purpose and can be especially important in retaining millennials, who tend to job-hop if they sense a better opportunity lies elsewhere. In addition, investing in training and development can create well-trained, knowledgeable company leaders who become longtime, loyal employees.

Current low unemployment rates mean that many labor markets are tight and competition can be fierce for good employees. Companies that translate what potential employees want and value into an appealing benefits package—whether it includes premium health insurance or free lunch—will stay a step ahead in the recruiting game.


This Is How to Integrate Talent Recruitment into Your Hiring Processes

When companies hire, the terms “recruitment” and “talent acquisition” are often used interchangeably. By definition, however, they are quite different, and companies should consider how the two approaches can be combined to find and hire the best people for open positions.




In short, recruitment is about hiring people to fill vacant positions. Typically, recruitment is a response to an employee leaving and creating a vacancy.

Traditional recruitment procedures begin with posting a job description, although companies also may look for candidates at job fairs or by reaching out to its networks. Once candidates have applied, the company will schedule interviews and make an offer to its top choice for the position. After someone has been chosen, the company works to fill the next open position.

Recruiting can be vital to companies facing employee turnover, increases in business volume, and other unexpected changes. However, recruitment is not a long-term plan for bringing the best employees to a company, as the process tends to focus on one open position at a time.


Acquiring Talent


This process is future oriented, rather than only fulfilling a company’s current hiring needs. Talent acquisition creates a pipeline of qualified people who will fit key positions in the company. These positions are typically high-level and difficult to hire for on short notice. Some leadership and specialty positions, such as tech positions, can take up to six months to fill. Talent acquisition allows employers to plan for such openings.

Companies that approach hiring through talent acquisition assume they can fill a job with a recruited employee whose skillset is well-matched with the job. Talent acquisition utilizes some similar processes to recruitment, such as networking. However, companies using a talent acquisition approach build long-term relationships with individuals in their target talent pool and place a larger emphasis on referrals and candidate retention.

The first step toward implementing a talent acquisition strategy is for a company to identify which positions will be difficult to fill when vacancies arise. Leaders may want to consider leadership roles, niche jobs, and jobs that require specific experience and skills in this category.

Here are five key elements for implementing talent acquisition:


  1. Formulate a strategy.

While recruiting focuses on filling one job, talent acquisition requires an in-depth perspective of your business and what kinds of employees it will require in the future. Company strategists may need to consider local, national, and global labor markets and how they will impact long-term hiring needs. With this information in mind, companies can anticipate and plan for hiring needs before jobs become vacant.


  1. Understand workplace trends.

Company leaders also will need a good understanding of the company’s needs before implementing talent acquisition. They should understand what each job entails. Further, they should consider what skills and experience the company needs from its employees to succeed and move forward.


  1. Consider your company’s brand.

While brands once were developed to attract customers, they are now also used to attract talented employees. This means a company must build a positive image, reputation, and culture through its services and products. Additionally, a brand should clearly express to customers and prospective employees what the company values. When executed well, a company’s brand will bring in top talent who are interested in learning more about what it’s like to be employed there.


  1. Find and manage talent.

Much of talent acquisition focuses on finding and creating relationships with prospective employees. Companies will need to research and find candidates who are a good fit for the company, get to know them, and then maintain relationships until positions are available.


  1. Utilize metrics and analytics.

Data can be an important tool in making good hiring decisions. Companies should continually update and refer to key metrics as they refine their recruitment processes and decide which candidates to hire. As companies integrate metrics and analytics into their talent acquisition and hiring processes, they will find an increased satisfaction in their hires.

If your company wants to move into talent acquisition, here is what you need to know:

The competition for talent is increasing. Companies that need employees in the areas where there are skill shortages need a talent acquisition strategy the most. A firm that needs developers, for example, may want to emphasize its standout benefits and work culture. Companies should also spend as much time cultivating and retaining good employees as they do attracting new employees.

Promoting a company on social media can be a great way to establish a brand and attract talent. A company’s marketing team should showcase the company’s culture through targeted ads on social media profiles—especially on Facebook—using keywords that may reach top talent.


How to Make Sure Employee Files Are Properly Maintained

Maintaining employee files correctly is one of the most important ways that HR helps companies stay compliant with current employment legislation and regulations. Much more than just a convenient place to store details about individual workers’ pay and performance history, employee files are in fact essential legal documents; as such, companies must properly manage them in order to maximize their legal compliance and minimize potential legal risks. Read on for helpful answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about employee files and how to maintain them.


My company only has a few employees. Do I need to keep employee files?


The answer to this question will vary depending on what state your company does business in: this is because different states have different rules about the minimum number of employees a company must have in order to be covered by non-discrimination laws and other types of employment legislation. In general, HR experts recommend that you stay on the safe side by keeping a file for each employee, regardless of the size of your company. This way, you’ll always have the appropriate documents on hand in the event that someone files a claim against you.


How do I know what information should be in an employee file?

To learn what records you need to maintain as part of an employee file, you’ll need to examine both federal and state law. Federal legislation like the Fair Labor Standards Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, among others, imposes significant document retention requirements. But while federal law generally does not dictate where organizations should keep records—only that they must be kept—some states have laws that do specify what information companies must maintain in an employee’s personnel file. It’s also important to note that if your state has these laws, employees may have the right to review their own file and/or copy certain contents.


What’s the best way to organize information in an employee file?

file folders

When considering how to organize the information in an employee file, there are a few key points to keep in mind. First, you must be sure to include all documents that state law requires. It is also generally recommended that even if your state has no laws pertaining to the information in an employee file, you should still include all non-medical documents that relate to the hiring process and the employment relationship (such as disciplinary documents, commendations, or performance reviews and evaluations). Finally, while it’s important to make sure that you include all the necessary information in the employee file, it’s equally important to ensure that you don’t include certain information. For example, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, companies may not keep medical records as part of the personnel file; instead, they must store them in a separate and distinct location.


Who owns the employee file?

The employer is technically the legal owner of an employee file. However, employees may, in certain situations, have the right to review and/or copy some of its contents, as mentioned previously.


How should I handle a request from an employee to see his or her file?

file folder

If an employee asks to see his or her file, the first thing to check is whether the person has a statutory right to do so under state law. If the employee does have the right to view the file, you may have the corresponding right to remove certain documents, such as the results of reference checks, from the file before the employee reviews it. If an employee does not have a statutory right to review his or her file, you may wish to consider allowing the person to review it anyway. In such cases, it is entirely appropriate for you to ask why the employee wants to see the file, and this dialogue can sometimes bring to light an issue or concern that you will then have the opportunity to resolve in the workplace, rather than at a court or commission following the filing of a claim.


How long does a company need to retain employee files?

There are three things to consider when determining the length of time you need to keep your employee files: The first is the minimum required retention period as defined by federal and state law. The second is the statute of limitations for any claims that you can reasonably foresee (note that this period may be longer than the legally mandated retention period). The third is whether or not there are steps that you can take to ease the administrative burden of dealing with employee files. For example, if your company operates in multiple states, it may be easiest to choose the longest state-mandated retention period for employee files, even if other states have shorter mandated periods, in order to ensure consistency and simplicity across your organization.