78305570_M“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” — Peter Drucker, business management guru

What does this quote have to do with your organization and its talent search? A lot.

The conversation around talent attraction and retention has been, for some time, centered on “perks.” All things being equal, a candidate might find an organization with an in-house cafeteria, gym and even bean bag chairs among seating option as more attractive than ones not committed to investing in their in-office culture.

However, in the quest to woo the best and brightest, we can easily gloss over one important element of culture: a sense of belonging. The fact remains that team members who feel like they are part of a team generally are more motivated, committed, proud and have a positive association with their work.

While “belonging” can mean different things to different people, company leaders can start with the following:

1. Be intentional in encouraging discussions.
Indeed, you can’t force people to share intimate details about their personal lives, but you can at least try even at a basic level. Once team members feel like they know and understand each other, interpersonal barriers can be broken down, or at least minimized.

2. Establish and maintain a shared vision.
How does the part inform the whole? Employees who feel like their talents and expertise matter are more engaged. Sharing a vision is one thing—revisiting it from time to time is another. Staff lunches, employee retreats, annual meetings, etc. are the appropriate times for this critical work.

3. Check-ins.
This one is simple but not always obvious: Are your people happy? To take the temperature of your workforce, consider conducting engagement surveys. The feedback may indicate where your organization needs to invest more resources or scale back in other areas.

4. Launch a mentoring program.
Mentoring can help people maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses. At the same time, it can inspire the work necessary to carve out a brighter future for team members, their teams and the organization as a whole. Mentoring initiatives can be formal or informal, but both parties must have a mutual understanding of the expectations.

5. Celebrate wins.
A culture of recognition can do wonders for morale, not to mention retention. Make a point to share key wins and their significance, and make specific mention of the people who were behind the success.

It’s a job seeker’s market. What are you doing to gain a leading edge in terms of culture?

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