This is an educated rant. This is only the second time I will have ever gone on a public rant. Ten years ago this advice was most likely true. If you weren’t completely professional and serious online and in life, you would be mocked and no one would consider anything you said. Back then everything needed to be polished, straight, orderly, concise, and consistent.
The rest of this article is my retort to that picture, and what it means today. A good company is a company with good culture.
WAIT!!! You just read “good culture” and you’re about to click off this blog because you are thinking you don’t have time for this. Before you click away please read the following statement. The cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5–2.0x the employee’s annual salary.
A good culture embraces the employees’ hobbies, talents, personal interests, and personal lives. If a company wants to become obsolete and never market correctly to millennials and Gen Z (looking forward to the future, which is what every smart company that wants to attract young talent should be doing), then okay. Continue living in the past, not adapting to the Information Age and new ways of thinking. “By the year 2020, millennials are estimated to spend a whopping $1.4 trillion annually – or 30% of all retail sales in the United States alone. It is time for businesses to start thinking like millennials!” (Thanks Katie Melissa for the quote). Millennials have recently overtaken the Baby Boomer generation and have become America’s largest generation.
Company culture is the personality of a company. It defines the environment in which employees work. Company culture includes a variety of elements, including work environment, company mission, value, ethics, expectations, and goals. I talk to many people from the consumer side as well as from the business owner side about consumerism. I consistently hear that the people behind the company, the company brand, the story, the messaging, and what the company openly stands for are more important than what that company actually does for consumers. The reason for this is because someone else is doing the same thing your company is doing. Unless you have zero competition and you’re the only one solving this problem, in which case the company can do whatever it wants, the CEO can say whatever they want publicly, and the company culture can reflect whatever it pleases.
Take a minute to think about Uber. When that company first came out, it could do whatever it wanted because it was the only one doing what it was doing. But things are different now because Uber has competitors, and consumers can choose which company they like better. If the culture of Uber appears to be racist and sexist, and if the CEO of Uber is seen screaming at his employees, people are probably going to choose a company that doesn’t have this negativity. If people are most likely to buy from a company that has a green environmental push compared to a company that just focuses on looking professional all the time, then companies need to adapt to how consumers think and buy.
So let’s get to the truth.
Yes, the value you provide to the company you’re being recruited by is more important than who you might be as a human. The company needs to make money and not just share stories all day long. Companies don’t just sit around and sing “Kumbaya”; they are here to make money. But companies who completely disregard the “humanness” of an employee (hobbies, interests, family life, personal beliefs, passions, dreams, and goals) and not take these qualities into consideration is a major part of why employee turnover is so bad. Obviously no matter how beautiful or caring you are, if you won’t add value to the company, you won’t be hired. I am not saying companies should hire hippies because they have a nice smile. Companies need to symbiotically look at the human side of the potential employee, not just determining if they will do what they say at your office.
I’ve spoken to sales teams at companies I work with. I do a social media check on the salespeople who work at the company before I speak. At one particular company, I saw many of the sales people putting extremely crude, rude, and offensive stuff online. These people reflect and represent their company. Employees, for better or for worse, are brand ambassadors for their company.
My final thoughts are directed towards both sides of this equation.
To the person trying to be recruited or promoted: Be a better human being and add value wherever you go. Being professional and serious on all fronts isn’t going to make you appear to be more promotable or hirable. You want to be someone who not only adds value wherever you go, but also someone people like to work with. The employee needs to understand that posting party pictures with their red solo cups on LinkedIn will potentially show they have low morals and character. I am NOT saying turn LinkedIn into Facebook. Please do not do this. LinkedIn is meant to be a professional network. What I am trying to say is continue to post your hobbies, interests, passions, dreams, and goals on your profile. LinkedIn is a professional network, but being professional does not mean people are robots.
To the company that is hiring: Please understand that who the employee is outside of their job is just as important as who they are at their desk.
If you are interested in making essential improvements to your culture and helping your employees be happier then I strongly encourage you to take some time to look at the Discover U Program – The Career Happiness Project.