4 employees giving high fives

Shaping a culture employees will rave about

When it comes to company culture, organisations must look beyond the boxes that need to be ticked, to start really walking the walk and creating workplaces that employees love to be in. Great culture is no longer just a ‘nice to have’. For many job seekers it is at the top of their list as they go through the recruitment process.

Many organisations make the mistake of skimming the surface of great culture, implementing initiatives that look good from the outside, but do very little to benefit the everyday wellbeing of their employees. Culture goes deeper than you think. There are big ideas like flexibility, diversity/inclusion, equality and corporate responsibility – these are often non-negotiables for jobseekers – but there are also smaller initiatives that can have a big impact on employees.

The reality is that company culture is no longer hidden behind organisational walls. Job seekers don’t need to make it to the interview stage to get a glimpse into what the company is really like.

Group of employees taking a selfie for a birthday

Websites like Seek and Glassdoor are giving current and prior employees the opportunity to share their authentic experiences in organisations – the good, the bad and the ugly. Job seekers know that their time is precious. These websites help them to save time by avoiding the organisations that don’t invest in a beneficial culture and they can narrow down their search by looking for organisations that invest in the things they value.

The problem for organisations is that these websites are powered by ‘Peak-End’ theory. The theory, made famous by Daniel Kahneman, says that lasting impressions are created by the peaks of emotions (both highs and lows) as well as the feeling at the very end of an experience.

If individuals write reviews, they are likely to be highly influenced by Peak-End theory, even if they don’t realise it. This is why it’s typical to see both glowing reviews and scathing takedowns on similar sites like TripAdvisor or Google. It is much less likely that you will come across a review that sits somewhere in between – lukewarm emotions aren’t motivating people to share their thoughts with the world. This can be damaging for employers’ reputations, but it can also provide an opportunity.

4 employees sitting around a meeting table

How to use reviews to change your organisational culture

These reviews can be revealing for organisations, particularly because of the emotions that are involved.

If employees had an amazing experience, it can be great feedback to keep doing what you’re doing. If the reviews are negative, it’s likely that there are many action points. The important thing for organisations is to take these negative reviews seriously. The anonymous nature of these websites means that prior employees can speak candidly, giving you insights you may not have otherwise.

  1. Look – for the reviews that reveal something important. For example, you may have been trying to make your organisational culture more welcoming to mothers who are returning to work after maternity leave. Perhaps you read a negative review from a mother who says she felt unsupported, that she wishes there was more flexibility at your organisation, etc. Feedback like this can show you that even if you have initiatives in place, they may not be working as intended.
  2. Ask – current employees about their experience. Don’t wait until the offboarding process to get their feedback. The people who are most affected by your organisational culture are those who are in the thick of it right now. Regularly check in to make sure your initiatives are having the desired effect.
  3. Change – employees can become frustrated when change doesn’t happen fast enough. Not only that, but prospective employees will read negative reviews and, if they choose to continue investigating your organisation, they will want to know what you are doing to create a better culture.

Organisations need to flip the lens on negative online reviews. While it’s true that they can drive job seekers away, they can also be an opportunity to learn, to shape the company culture and to refine the offboarding process so that when employees do leave reviews, they’re motivated by positive emotions at every stage of their time with an organisation.

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