Insights from Evanta – Business Culture Rules

Three colleagues having a conversation in the office

NPR’s Planet Money recently offered up an episode called “Quit Threat!” on single-digit unemployment emboldening employees to bolt.

It’s a big deal (see this).  

But quitting is only one of an employer’s problems. There’s also the matter of finding people. And as the recently wrapped Evanta CHRO Philadelphia made clear, culture looms large in recruitment and retention – so much so that one session pointed out how you operate in the current era can matter more to employees than what you sell. 

That was just one of the takeaways from the gathering of HR leaders at this year’s event. Some others: 

Step Forward: Scrutiny on how companies live their values (versus just market them) has been intensifying for several years. It’s no longer enough to merely profess commitment to #MeToo, harassment, diversity, inclusion – you have to prove it. That means a lot for HR -- a responsibility to train executives and line managers to be active stewards of culture: to speak up, act courageously, and negotiate difficult conversations about fairness, inclusion, and opportunity. The “bystander” effect is still all too common, said the speaker, and HR teams need to complement their diversity and awareness training with clear directives that ensure they practice what they preach. 

Improve the candidate experience: The old days of HR automation were designed purely for the employer – screen more resumes, approve more timesheets, facilitate open enrollment. But the tight talent market has flipped the equation on its head. New tools should be designed for the user experience – employees and candidates. So IT-driven technical advancements aren’t enough; they need the HR touch to ensure human appeal. For candidates, the ease of application process (human interactions and tech interface) is one of those brand representations that impact job searches (see, “importance of how you operate,” above). 

Quantify your challenges: Overcoming HR obstacles means knowing what they are. And that’s where data comes in. One hospital thought their bedside shortages were a recruitment problem. But a dive into analytics showed the real problem was retention  -- specifically unusually high first-year turnover among certain groups. The revelation enabled the CHRO to ask the key question, “What are those hiring managers doing – or not doing – to cause so many early exits”? Retention figures improved across the board the next year. A similar story played out in a financial firm, where data turned up a surprise roadblock (specifically the small percentage of female managers hired by male directors) to strengthening the female pipeline. The stark (and unassailable) numbers achieved a culture change that would have taken countless training courses to unearth. One year later, the hiring disparity virtually disappeared. Both instances required forward thinking HR managers who scrutinized data to make their cases.

All of the above fall under a single heading repeated over and over at the conference: dispelling myths, misconceptions, and longstanding practices (“because we’ve always done it that way”) that were obstacles to change. Attendance at the Evanta event showed people are looking for the right levers. How we respond will determine who has the employees they need, and who’s perpetually wondering why they don’t.

three happy employees working together

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Written by: Jonathan Corke

June 13, 2019

About the Author

Jonathan Corke at Bright Horizons

As Senior Director, Product Marketing, Jonathan has spent the last decade working at the intersection of strategic HR and enterprise technology. He has learned a great deal about converting a talent management strategy into an operating plan through direct conversations with HR leaders and numerous industry surveys. These experiences have sparked a fascination with how leading employers create a better environment for their workforce, and how that environment drives consistent business performance. Jonathan holds an MBA from Clark University.