Entrepreneur

Correcting the course of your company’s culture

(Editor’s note: Michael Long is the head of global talent branding at Rackspace Hosting. He submitted this column to VentureBeat.)

No executive wants to acknowledge their company is a bad place to work. It’s a failure on both personal and professional levels and it’s something that too many places downplay as they attempt to lure the best and the brightest.Instead of facing the harsh reality, the company presents itself as an upbeat and positive place to work in its employment branding materials – and it often succeeds in creating that illusion. But illusions are temporary – and it won’t be long before workers discover the challenges and other touchy aspects.

So what’s the solution? The first is the most obvious: Work on fixing the internal problems.  If your company has a toxic environment, you won’t retain superstars long enough for them to make a meaningful contribution.  If you know there are problems, your best bet is to be honest with the people you are hiring.  Let them know that you recognize the issues and present your plans for improvement.

On a larger front, share an authentic picture of what it’s like to work within your company.  Instead of filling your career page with industry-recycled ways in which you fulfill someone’s career, consider pointing out true positive aspects of your culture, in addition to the areas that may frustrate a potential employee.

This approach will, at the very least, ensure that people are signing up for what they expected.  The more candid and open you are, the more likely it is that your new hires are making an educated decision – and that they will fit into the culture and accept work-life at your company.

When it comes to employment branding, I have yet to see an end-all approach that works for every company.  Your approach requires personality – and perhaps some perceived risk.

If stepping outside the norm interests you, start with your people.  Ask lots of questions.  What do they like about working for your company?  What do they dislike?  What makes them want to stay?  What are their favorite moments?  Why did they join in the first place?  Which events are you participating in?  Start collecting stories.

Once you’re ready, consider starting a recruiting-specific blog for your group.  Add pictures, videos, write-ups – the approaches are endless.  Invite employees to serve as bloggers and explore their experiences within your company.

Then share.  Not just with the talent pool that you are trying to attract, but with your current team.  Help remind them why people work for your company and encourage them to share with their networks. (Both Microsoft and Intel do a terrific job with this.)

No workplace is perfect, so it’s pointless to create the illusion that yours is. Everyone has had the experience of working in an environment that didn’t suit them – and it’s a miserable one.

Quit worrying about creating a flawless employment brand and start putting efforts into sharing your unique company culture.  While it might not be right for everyone, it could attract the right ones.


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