Are Top Candidates Turned Off by Your Company Culture?

You’ve posted your job opening on all the right boards. You’ve reached out to the most qualified candidates, and tried to set up interviews. You’ve put together a competitive salary and benefits package. But the top candidates – the ones you’re really eager to hire – don’t seem to be showing much interest in following up.

What could be the cause? One possible reason is that the industry’s top candidates have been doing some digging on your company’s culture, and aren’t liking what they find. This problem can be tough to see and acknowledge – and even tougher to change – from within. But if you’re having trouble hiring the candidates you’re most interested in, it’s an issue worthy of serious consideration.

Here are the three biggest factors today’s top candidates look for when they evaluate the company culture of a potential employer.

1. Transparency
If a candidate perceives a lack of trust among employees in your organization, that’s a major turn-off. If your previous employees are sharing stories of negative office politics, backstabbing, and sudden, surprising policy changes, any smart candidate would think twice before signing on.

Candidates have good reason to keep an eye out for a lack of transparency in the workplace. According to one recent study by the American Psychological Association, a full 25 percent of American employees say they don’t trust their bosses.

Meanwhile, forward-thinking companies are trumpeting their transparency from the rooftops. They share company performance data freely with their employees, provide employee feedback in a clear, open manner, and treat team meetings as dialogues, where everyone is free to contribute. As more and more companies recognize the value of transparency, your organization may need to become a bit more open, in order to attract the top talent you seek.

2. Flexibility
It wasn’t so long ago that “full-time” meant at least eight hours every day at a desk, no questions asked. But today’s top performers – especially millennials – expect a lot more flexibility in terms of work hours, as long as they turn in their assignments on time.

In fact, that same APA survey found that 82 percent of American workers rate flexibility as a top factor in their choice of employer. That means not only flexible work hours, but also the freedom to work from home at least one day a week, or to work remotely from a park or cafe.

As work-life balance becomes an ever-greater part of the dialogue around employment, companies that insist on eight hours a day, five days a week, are attracting less and less of their industry’s foremost talent. If your organization still makes this demand of its employees, it may be time to ask whether those old rules are actually paying dividends anymore.

3. Innovation
It’s not always easy to quantify innovation – but people know a forward-thinking organization when they see it, and they can tell instantly if innovation isn’t ingrained in your company culture. In the IT industry, especially, people want to work for employers that value employee innovation, and remain open to adopting new technology and techniques.

A recent survey by Deloitte found that 78 percent of millennials believe innovation is crucial for the growth of any business. This younger generation of workers actively seek out innovative employers, and remain fiercely loyal to them – but they also won’t hesitate to jump ship from an employer they feel is holding them back.

Is your organization agile in the face of change and disruption? Do your leaders value suggestions from younger employees, and adopt new solutions when they offer clear benefits? These are the traits that attract high-performing talent – especially the young, forward-thinking innovators who’ll keep you ahead of your competition.

If your organization isn’t exactly top-of-class in these three areas, that doesn’t mean you’ve got no chance of attracting top talent. But some small, incremental changes in each of these three areas probably wouldn’t hurt. Company culture can’t be transformed overnight – but even a few steps in the right direction can make all the difference, in terms of the candidates you attract.

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