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Attract and retain talent with a culture that’s ‘objectif’ (purpose driven)


Aug 17, 2022

This guest blog post is written by Jaclyn Anku who runs Community & Education for the HR and payroll platform Gusto. Before joining Gusto, Jacklyn led business education for accountants and bookkeepers at Xero.

If a brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room, a culture is what everyone does when nobody’s looking. And in that way, it’s not really all that abstract. It’s very real, and very tangible, and very important for attracting and retaining a team — especially when things feel uncertain.

Like, say, in a year when more Americans quit their jobs than ever before (4.4 million in April). But then, abruptly, the Federal Reserve announced that actually, we are in a recession, folks.

As someone involved in managing, hiring, or training others, you can offer certainty. You can create an aura of safety that helps attract and retain talent. And you can embed that in your entire hire-to-retire process by taking a proactive role in intentionally shaping each phase of the employee journey. 

Good cultures are built brick by brick

Let me share a personal story. After graduating school, I was faced with a choice. I could accept an offer at a Big Four firm and be whooshed into the corporate world with a nice salary and immediate bonafides. Or I could take a much lower paid role at a nonprofit helping entrepreneurs make their way. The choice was easy. I picked meaning. I went with the nonprofit.

The inspiration I felt from the nonprofit’s mission outweighed all other considerations. The organization’s culture and values radiated out to its clients, and among its team. It was obvious just from interviews that this was more than just a paycheck, and a place where I wanted to be.

You don’t develop a culture like this overnight. But having it is often the deciding factor between whether candidates choose you and somewhere else. And you can almost think of it as a product — something you generate that gives people oh so much more than bi-weekly direct deposits.

Want to begin building that, and help more of your culture shine through? Here are some suggestions you can implement at each stage of your employee journey:

1. Pick a mission that is meaningful for your team

At Gusto, our mission is to help create a world in which work empowers a better life. We see business owners and accountants as people, not numbers, and that’s something that everyone here can use as a daily rubric, whether working on the product or writing articles. “Does this make people’s lives better through work?”

It’s not always easy to arrive at a mission, but it’s a necessary and useful team exercise.

2. Attract candidates by rewarding employee referrals

You know who probably knows some great people? Your great people. It’s also a chance to reward and recognize them for participating in that process.

Referred candidates are also a great bet. They’re more likely to accept an offer, stay longer, and perform better, according to research published in the Journal of Labor Economics.

3. Invite candidates in with a positive application experience

87 percent of applicants say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted — it’s your big advantage over the Big Four firms.

4. Make onboarding delightful

Research shows that a positive, structured onboarding experience makes 69% of employees more likely to stay with a company for three years. Spend time sharing your firm’s origin story, offer a formal learning plan, and set them up for a quick win.

5. Retain them with pay, benefits, and yes, meaning

According to Gusto’s research, employees say flexibility is as important as paid leave — and second only to paid healthcare. 

Caption: Flexibility is now second only to healthcare. Source: Gusto.

And it doesn’t end there! Your culture should carry through to how you develop employees, transition them, and if and when the time comes, offboard them. (By the way, did you know that 70 percent of people who changed jobs during ‘The Great Resignation’ regret making the switch? Many go back to their former employer. Never close that door fully.)

Be purpose driven and you can drive anywhere

Want to become the employer who gets chosen over others? Focus on your purpose, and help those values carry through to everything you do, throughout the employee lifecycle.

Beyond being a great thing for your people, it’s the right thing for your business — especially when things feel uncertain. 

Want a step-by-step on how to implement all the above? Come and join myself and Will Lopez at our Xerocon session, August 24-25 in New Orleans.

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