The recruitment industry is a continually changing market and even more so in the IT sector. When I first started working at Datacom in 1975, we were very much a generalist recruiter in a generalist industry. During the 1980’s recession, we had to adapt or die and focused our efforts in computing. With the evolution of the PC, we had to move into more highly skilled IT disciplines.
Today we are looking for specialists in fields that until recently we had never even heard of. A recent example is a new product called TippingPoint, connected to firewalls and data security. We are being asked by a major finance organisation to find specialists in that technology but it’s only just been released.
With the current economy picking up again, the recruitment business is returning to strong growth. Employees looking to move companies have more options and employers need to work harder to secure the hire of the best talent. That’s where company culture can play a key role.
Company culture is fundamental to growth
In our experience, company culture is more evident in larger companies. Smaller businesses tend to thrive on dynamic and innovative environments and look for people with skills to bring fresh ideas. Larger organisations often have less opportunity for a dynamic environment as people often get caught up in the processes that are necessary to operate a business of that size.
It also depends on the type of company. Organisations that are involved in media, advertising, designing or software, are a lot less corporate than the traditional companies and have a much more relaxed approach.
In fact, we’ve received complaints from some of our candidates that when a company grows and becomes more corporate, it becomes run by finance rather than the people who actually are making the products or providing the service, and inevitably the company culture changes.
Personality still plays a role of course. From a recruiter’s perspective, you’ve got to know your client really well to know what he or she wants. And you’ll know right away if a candidate will fit in an organisation or not.
Some IT disciplines such as programming or coding can be done from home. People used to doing that and working in a more relaxed, non customer-facing setting can then have difficulty re-adapting to working in a corporate environment. We had a case recently with a talented programmer who was doing a great job from home, but when he had to come into the office for a project, both the programmer and the clients hiring him had difficulties working together. We had complaints because they loved his work and couldn’t do without him, but he wasn’t fitting in to the company culture.
Work-life balance is top for employees
Companies need to realise that employees are moving towards flexible working and are starting to expect more work-life balance in their careers. That’s the direction the market is moving and companies need to keep up with this in order to retain talented staff and not lose them to companies that will offer what the employees want in this regard.
There has been an explosion of home-based working. Some companies are reticent to it and that can be dangerous as staff will move on to other companies who will give them the flexibility they desire. Because of technological advancements it matters less where the work gets done, as long as it gets done. A massive selling point now is being able to work from home on Fridays or getting home on time so they can spend a little more time with family.
One of our recent clients, a property management company, had a very interesting approach to work-life balance. They expected complete and utter devotion to their business from their team during working hours, but expected everyone at 5 o’clock to go home and to leave their work mobiles at the office.
Tips to create the right company culture
There’s so much more to retaining good staff. As an employer, it is imperative that your staff are interested in their work and the future of the organisation, and want to grow with the company.
1. Keep a personal touch and stay close to your employees. Make sure that everybody in the company is approachable, whether you are head of a department or the CEO. Your Line Managers will have to spend time with all members of the team to gauge how satisfied they are with their job in order to make the changes that are necessary.
2. Team bonding and team building exercises can also help. You don’t want to get to the point where you are paying top competitive salaries but still losing people. It is important to know when things are going wrong and equally important to find out if people are unhappy or thinking about going elsewhere and to catch that early on.
3. Companies should also look into extra perks and benefits. Consider short day Fridays in the summer months, more days off between Christmas and New Year or company BBQs: they are all factors that can attract and maintain a valuable employee.
In summary, getting the right work culture is incredibly important to the efficiency of a company. It can mean the difference between being up there with the competition or being left behind. The growth of your company really can depend on the culture the management create. So the lesson learnt is, take care of your people and their environment and they will take care of you.