Recruiting, Talent

Finding Your Way in Today’s Job Market: Defining Your Culture

We have heard from countless companies that they are leaving millions of dollars in new business on the table. Despite nearly unprecedented new business opportunities, there is a shortage of skills in the labor market that hinders many companies’ ability to hire and retain the employees they need to convert opportunity to business.


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Surveys indicate that average wages will increase more than 3% for the first time in years; so if you are planning to solve your employee shortage with pay increases, this plan may merely help you keep your existing workforce. But, this strategy may not help you increase your workforce or candidate pool because most employers are planning the same approach.
In order to develop an advantage in the most competitive labor market in recent history, Human Resources (HR) departments are being asked to “market” and “sell” their companies to attract and recruit top talent. For HR to do so, it must shift how it has traditionally served the business and take on a truly strategic role.
Company leadership must provide HR with direction if it is to successfully make this shift and fulfill its organizations’ human capital needs. By following a three-step process, leadership will arm their HR departments with the tools they need to strategically serve the organization—positioning themselves ahead in a competitive talent market. Step 1: Define Your Culture; Step 2: Build a Strategic People Plan; Step 3: Tell Your Story.

Step 1—Define Your Culture

Your culture makes your company unique—it defines who works for you and, ideally, determines why they choose to stay at your organization. The attitudes that your employees express about your company to their networks communicate your culture to prospective employees. Although this “informal” communication, which takes place outside of your doors and off your network, is out of your control, you can help shape the message.

Create a Values Statement

Build a “Culture on Purpose” to define your company and your values to employees, customers, and the community. If done properly, it will attract both the employees and the customers you rely on to do business.
The process starts with a “Values Statement” that aligns with your vision for the way you conduct business. Engage with your best employees and determine which of your values appeals to them—and why. Learn from them what you could do better. Build your Values Statement from what you learn.
Leverage these values to cultivate your culture by incorporating them into your marketing and recruitment communications. Make them a tagline on your e-mails and letterhead, where appropriate. Consider them whenever you make a business decision, and you will generate a Culture on Purpose.

Monitor Glassdoor

Glassdoor® is a powerful tool that serves as a public window into the inner workings of your organization. Think of it as Yelp for current and prospective employees where they can post reviews of their experience with your company. Increasingly, potential employees review Glassdoor before deciding to apply, and your customers may also look at it.
If your rating is between 3.5 and 5 stars, your brand is intact, and Glassdoor is probably not adversely affecting your hiring prospects. However, if it is below 3.5 stars, you may have a problem.
Any company can get one or two outliers (e.g., a toxic or disgruntled former employee), but if your average rating is low, those bad reviews are not being countered by good ones, and this will stand out to candidates.
The good news is that you can affect changes in your ratings by developing a Glassdoor Optimization plan. Consider encouraging your satisfied employees to comment on Glassdoor but only after you have made sure the employees who review your company understand your culture and reinforce your Values Statement.
Now that you’ve defined your company’s culture, you’ll want to develop a human capital strategy. In tomorrow’s article, we’ll cover exactly how to do this, and in the final post, we’ll look at step 3, telling your story.

Kurt Meyer is an award-winning HR leader and the Managing Consultant at Best Workplace Solutions, a division of Michael Best Consulting. To learn more about Meyer and Best Workplace Solutions, please visit
Chuck Palmer is a Partner in Michael Best & Friedrich LLP’s Labor & Employee Relations Practice. Palmer has been selected by his peers as one of The Best Lawyers in America for the past 8 years and was named the Milwaukee “Lawyer of the Year” in Employment Law in 2013. To learn more about Palmer and Michael Best, please visit