Current employees and potential candidates place utmost importance on corporate culture, making it an essential element in both retention and recruitment.

Boyden's perspectives on the news and trends that are transforming industries

Culture permeates every aspect of an organisation, informing decisions at all levels. In congruence with social and technological change, it has become more important than ever to employees and candidates, surpassing even salary. From the standpoint of retention, a 2022 survey from Flexjobs showed culture as the top reason people quit. In a 2021 study of wages, amenities and job satisfaction at high-paying firms, Jason Sockin of the University of Pennsylvania found that non-wage amenities, including respect, culture and leadership, “have a more pronounced effect on job satisfaction than does pay.”

Candidates are keenly interested in assessing a company’s culture before they become part of it. Where once this could only be discovered after the fact, technology offers advance access. In response to investor and public pressure, companies are now more open about putting theirs into words. The reality may not match the rendering exactly. But according to The Economist, “companies that codify their values are at least thinking about them. And their choices can offer meaningful clues.”

Companies open a window when they undergo culture change and amend their employer brand accordingly. In her 2022 book “ReCulturing,” Melissa Daimler illustrates how this worked in the case of Uber. CEO Travis Kalanick was driven out by investors in 2017 following a series of scandals, one of which was an investigation into the firm’s aggressive culture. This led to the firing of 20 employees including senior executives. Once Uber’s leadership changed, its stated values were revised with a different tone and content such as “We value ideas over hierarchy,” signalling a change in the air.

Other information that companies publish about themselves online, though less overt, can be telling. For example, a company’s policy on remote work offers a clue to its attitude towards work-life balance. Additionally organisations are increasingly pushed to share their opinions on political and social issues. Whether or not they do so, as well as the opinions themselves, offer glimpses of their culture.

For years regulators have been demanding more transparency from companies, including disclosures about their workforce. A company’s ability to substantiate its diversity claims in numeric terms carries weight. A working paper on the value that jobseekers place on diversity information, published earlier this year by Jung Ho Choi of Stanford Graduate School of Business and his co-authors, found that job postings from firms with higher diversity scores had higher click-through rates. The correlation seems to imply causation.

A CEO’s social media behaviour is also an important indicator of the type of organization they helm. A recent survey from communications consultancy Brunswick Group found that the vast majority of participants, 82%, would research the CEO’s social media accounts before joining the firm. Other online portals available to prospective candidates are employee review sites such as Glassdoor. Within even the most scathing remarks of scorned ex-employees, there are kernels of truth to be found.

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