The Culture of Calm
While the tightness of the labor market has certainly subsided, businesses that require a steady stream of talent can not afford to let their guard down on employer branding. Standing apart as an employer has become even more difficult as benefits have become ubiquitous across the companies that care about creating good jobs. Attracting new team members has thus become more about being "different" instead of doing "more".
We've always been inspired by the concept of a Calm Company; a place where you can do good work, isolated from always having to get things done "ASAP". It has helped us say goodbye to certain service lines and customer types because they did not fit this way of doing business. I always felt this was pretty great considering we run a professional-service firm in which clients are always supposed to be king.
It was only when on of my partners started preaching this message more publicly that I realized how how valuable it has been in attracting (and retaining) employees. We started wearing out "9 to 5" mentality as a badge of honor. This has become a true differentiator in a world where we and all our competitors offer free lunch, Friday drinks and foosball tables.
After a good conversation with a friendly competitor I was reminded how special this culture really is. She got pulled away by her Slack popping off and mentioned virtually attending the quarterly town hall from holiday. For reference: I don't get my business email on my phone. There's not right or wrong here, but I prefer my holiday to be just that—and I'm not the only one.
A few days earlier a long-time team member shared (unsolicited) the same sentiment with me, confirming how our efforts to become (and stay!) a Calm Company contributed to overall work happiness. There is no denying this deliberate choice has a positive impact on our existing team, but there are also tangible benefits for our hiring pipeline. In the last month alone we had:
A past employee write a widely shared post on LinkedIn about our great culture.
Received an open application in which she specifically mentioned following our company for a while and finally decided to contact us due to culture fit.
Had a candidate comment in his cover letter how he liked how we portray our company culture.
Being a good employer isn't difficult; it’s mostly about doing the right thing and treating others as you like to be treated. Employer branding is way harder, as it's more about setting yourself apart from the rest. The upside can be huge, whatever your differentiator.