Hays UK blog


Top reason why companies need to join the culture club

By Nigel Heap, Regional Managing Director, Hays

The competition for talent is high and many employees are dissatisfied in their current roles. Yet, companies aren’t always looking at how they can convey the right image to attract the talent they need and then, importantly, how they can cultivate a culture which will make sure they don’t leave for one of your competitors.

We recently explored the topic of ‘What Workers Want’ in our new report and although pay is the single most important factor when deciding whether to accept a job or whether to stay in a job, the other elements of culture, career progression and benefits collectively influence more of the decision-making process.

Our survey of over 13,650 workers found that culture is the second most important factor in a professional’s decision-making process and a staggering 62% of professionals stated that they would take a pay cut to work for an organisation that is a better cultural fit. Employees want to work for an employer with a diverse and engaging culture.

I’ve found that in the competitive world of recruitment, we can’t just pay our staff more money or up our salaries and expect people to come running, they want far more from their employer and this looks likely to increase even more for the younger generations. For this very reason, one of my first steps when I became MD of our UK & Ireland business was to appoint a People & Culture Director. It signaled to our business how important culture is and how much we are investing in it. I am very firmly of the opinion that you can’t have a successful and sustainable business model with a negative culture.

“Culture is one of our most underutilised and under-prioritised weapon in the fight for talent.”

Of course, central to this is defining what culture is, what a positive culture means for you and what a more engaged workforce could offer. It isn’t straightforward by any means, which might be one reason companies shy away from addressing it. Then, you need to consider what influences culture and what you want to prioritise.

What influences workplace culture?

  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Practices
  • Policies
  • Mission and values
  • Environment
  • Communication

Many companies focus on the physical environment first – there are numerous examples of companies that promote their bars, restaurants, slides and even office go-karts in an attempt to attract staff and offer a place where employees want to come each day, but it will soon fall flat if there isn’t substance behind it and the leadership team isn’t driving it.

Not only do companies need to make it a priority, but they need to make sure they are promoting it and allowing prospective candidates to get real insight into what it is truly like to work in the organisation. An effective discussion on the culture, what it is truly like to work in the organisation and what is expected of employees and in some cases, the opportunity to meet the team, should therefore be a key part of the interview process.

We have an open and honest culture and actively encourage our employees to contribute to review sites like Glassdoor for this very reason. We were announced as the top recruiter in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work Awards 2017 and we were ranked number five out of the top 50 employers, listed alongside companies like Google and Microsoft. There is no better accolade than your own staff commending your workplace and winning the award is one of my proudest moments of my career.

Workplace culture isn’t a new concept or one that will go away. If professionals are willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better cultural fit it is clearly a key differentiator for companies. As a leader, are you proud of your workplace culture?

Attend one of our webinars to find out more about the Hays What Workers Want Report 2017.

For more information or to discuss your employment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Nigel is Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and Chairman of Asia Pacific. He joined Hays UK in 1988 as a trainee consultant. By 1997, he was Managing Director of Hays Australia, and consequently expanded operations to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2006, he was appointed Managing Director of Asia Pacific. He became UK & Ireland Managing Director and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business in 2012. In 2018 Nigel was appointed Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and retains his position as Chairman of Asia Pacific.


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