Human resources should be out to form a culture club

Melinda Rizzo, Contributing Writer//March 29, 2023

Human resources should be out to form a culture club

Melinda Rizzo, Contributing Writer//March 29, 2023

Does your company cultivate a growth mindset among its employees? Do they feel they can push back, or bring questions or concerns out into the open, without fear of reprisal? Are they not only willing – but actually going – the extra mile for your business? 

From hiring practices to company culture, career development and investment the right employee fit has become more than aligning skills, education and past experience to a job description – it’s also about a like-minded fit between company culture, value systems and employee mindset.  

What we’re seeing is more and more companies are doing the recruiting based upon their company culture, and who will be a good fit,” said Karen A. Young, founder and president of HR Resolutions, LLC, in Susquehanna Township in Dauphin County. 

Recruit to culture 

More and more, job candidates are looking at their prospective company’s culture. They’re reading Glassdoor and other online job recruiting sites for company reviews – both good and bad. And they’re paying attention to social media when on the hunt in their next job search. 

According to Young, many younger job seekers care more about the company’s culture for which they work, rather than they an extra 25 cents more an hour in pay. 

“It needs to be a fit for everybody. People learned to live with less during the worst of Covid, and they also learned they didn’t have to ‘put up’ with bad behavior [from employers] either,” Young said. 

“I believe organizations are starting to recognize that, and candidates are starting to demand it, she said. 

What employees want  

“A lot has shifted because of what candidates are looking for – it’s more than what are the salary and their job description,” said Jake Stehman, talent acquisition manager with RKL LLP.   

RKL is an accounting and business consulting firm with roughly 600 employees and offices located throughout the region including in Lancaster, York, Mechanicsburg and Chambersburg.  

Stehman said while employees are looking for companies willing to invest in their careers, employers are looking for talent they can hire, retain and grow over the long haul.  

“I remind our hiring managers that candidates are interviewing us as much as we’re interviewing them,” he said. 


What employers want  

Companies are looking for talent willing to share ideas – and even raise concerns they have about the work environment, their project assignments or other aspects of their jobs. 

“We want [candidates] who can bring new ideas, and we look for diverse backgrounds” when making hiring decisions, Stehman said.  

Creating two-way dialog isn’t easy, but it’s essential to a professional growth mindset, according to Young and Stehman.  

Cultivating a growth mindset in employees comes down to creating a safe environment, he said.   

“It’s about making sure the team and the company as a whole, no matter what the level, is comfortable sharing ideas,” he said.  

Creating a safe space to speak up is among RKL’s goals to help employees’ not only achieve success at the firm, but to grow their careers with the firm. 

“If you’re promoting this [concept] throughout the entire firm, [employees will become] comfortable enough that they’ll share new ideas,” he said.  

Assigning a performance coach is a long-term commitment the RKL makes to help ensure employee success and longevity.  

“If people don’t know how to work in growth think[ing] environments…they won’t be comfortable enough to grow personally,” he said.  

When a company sees the rewards of creating an atmosphere where employees feel empowered and able to stretch their skills it benefits everyone and “you’ll get new ideas constantly,” Stehman explained. 


Soft skills and critical thinking needed 

According to Young teaching hard skills like answering a phone is easier than teaching soft skills, like how to answer the phone politely. 

“Soft skills are primarily intuitive, and you can coach soft skills to improve them,” she said. 

Someone who is given a standard operating procedure to follow probably won’t try to color outside the lines, or innovate a job or task a process or procedure. But a critical thinker will follow that process and will also be evaluating how that process can be improved, be made more efficient. 

“How can I make it better” is the kind of mindset more employers are looking to add to their teams, Young said. 

“The employee will need to feel safe in the environment, like they can make a mistake. Having that ability to make a mistake, and know it’s OK to make a mistake” is the first step, she said. 

Set expectations  

Stehman said it’s important for employers, lead personnel and managers to set expectations up front.   

From the first phone call or email during job recruiting to on boarding new hires, clear expectations make a difference. If you’re setting and following through with expectations from the candidate’s interview to hiring, on boarding and transitioning into the team environment, Stehman said employees will be more willing to step up.  

When employees are unhappy, feel like they are not heard, feel work stifled or quit, there is a significant cost to the bottom line.  

The Society for Human Resource Management website estimated the cost to replace an employee earning about $60,000 annually can cost about 50% of the salary. The cost range to replace an employee who has left your firm varies: from 16% of yearly wages for hourly employees to a whopping 213% of an annual salary for a highly skilled professional employee.   

“[You end up] losing team camaraderie and industry knowledge, and I think more companies are becoming aware of that,” he said. 


Post pandemic work environment  

Both employer and employee expectations continue to evolve in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Whether that means flexible work accommodations including remote or hybrid work from home provisions to encouraging employees to stretch beyond their job’s comfort zone, creating a listening culture is a vital component.  

“One of the things we do to add to [an employee’s] comfort zone is providing buddies and performance coaches. They may not be direct managers but in those conversations we identify where [the employee] is right now, and to see where they want to be” moving forward, Stehman said.  

Melinda Rizzo is a freelance writer