By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, digital, marketing, advertising and public relations talent with the best companies on a project, contract-to-hire and full-time basis.
Have you ever felt that Sunday night dread about returning to work the next day? If so, you may have worked for a firm that doesn’t focus on fostering a strong organizational culture.
That’s when it’s easy for a work environment to spin out of control. From micromanagement and workload burnout to favoritism and office cliques, toxic work practices give talented professionals every incentive to leave at the earliest opportunity.
A report on organizational culture from global staffing firm Robert Half, The Creative Group’s parent company, reveals how job seekers are increasingly willing to turn their backs on lucrative offers if they feel they aren’t a good fit for the organization. Even now during the COVID-19 pandemic, professionals look for employers whose values align with their own and who care about their employees. A recent survey from Robert Half showed, as a result of the pandemic, 60% of workers are now more motivated to work at an organization that values its staff during unpredictable times.
While these values are different for everyone, organizations that encourage creativity, innovation, collaboration and risk-taking are best-positioned to attract and retain creative talent. Here are five tips that can help you build an office culture that top candidates want to be part of.
Encourage Communication and Collaboration
Without a company culture that promotes good communication and teamwork, you might be left with a group of talented individuals that never fully gels. One way to prevent this is through regular team catch-ups where individuals talk to each other, sharing goals, challenges and achievements.
Encourage team members to not only help each other in moments of need, but also ask for help when they need it. And when they do, positively reinforce this behavior by praising both the person who sought help and the one who gave it.
Whatever your communication strategy, make sure it encompasses the whole team, wherever they’re based. With many people working remotely due to the pandemic, tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Hangouts and Zoom can help keep the conversation flowing. If you want your workforce to remain engaged and productive, they need to feel connected in as many ways as possible, including participating in text and video chats.
Trust Your Team — And Don’t Micromanage
In a healthy organizational culture, workers want managers to be on their side, not by their side. Hovering over your employees’ shoulders, even virtually, can stifle productivity and drain morale. Trust your team, and give them space to use their skills and creativity.
Trusting your staff also means embracing their willingness to take risks and try new approaches — including ones that fail. If one of your designers comes up with a brilliant pitch that’s rejected by the client, they may feel crushed — which is precisely the time for you to show your appreciation of their work, reframe it as a good creative risk to have taken, and encourage them to learn from the experience and keep breaking the mold.
Manage Conflict and Promote Debate
As long as you’re employing humans, you’ll also be resolving conflicts. Act quickly when they arise, opening channels of communication between any colleagues who are at odds — and practice active listening with employees who have issues with each other, or even your management style or strategies.
But don’t confuse conflict with passion. There will be legitimate disagreements, and professionals are drawn to environments where conflicts are swiftly de-escalated and vigorous debate is encouraged.
Invest In Professional Development
To attract and retain top talent, prove your firm is a place where creative professionals can grow. Whether it’s offering mentorships, increased responsibility or training in leading-edge design software, investing in professional development shows you care about your staff and want them to succeed. By embracing a spirit of learning and continuous improvement, you not only reduce staff turnover, but also end up with a highly skilled workforce that improves your bottom line.
Broadcast Your Success
Find ways to show potential hires what it’s like to work at your company before they apply so they can judge for themselves whether they’d be a good fit.
Ask your team to come up with attention-grabbing ways to tell your firm’s story via social media, your website and other channels. And whatever you produce, keep it real. A quirky Day in the Life of Our Art Director video may more likely appeal to experienced candidates than a slick promotion about how your company is crushing the competition.
Building an organizational culture isn’t a one-step process. As your firm evolves, your culture needs to evolve with it. But the benchmark for success is always be the same: If the people you most want to work for you are attracted to your firm and your team is happy and productive, you’ll create a company culture you can be proud of.