Attracting & Retaining Talent – The Importance of Culture

Dene Gambotto


As younger generations make their way into the market place, we notice changes in expectations – this isn’t new with the Millennial generation.  Go back over the years and each major generational shift has had an impact on working environments.  So, what is it that the newest generation of talent is looking for?  How do you position yourself to ensure you are appealing to the right talent, the best talent? What part does cultural fit play in the interview process?


Firstly, there needs to be a positive mind set within the business that making changes to attract fresh talent is a good thing.  We often hear from hiring managers and line managers things like “why are we pandering to Gen Y?” “Why are we changing the way we do things for them?”  But it makes sense.  Each new generation thinks a little differently and as we would hope, has learnt lessons from the generations before – even before they join the work force.  Allow them to question the status quo – it’s great for growth!


Though warnings come with this too – if the existing culture doesn’t allow for challenging the status quo this introduction may cause more harm than good.  So being aware of the existing team, their values and cultural expectations as well as those of the new generation of talent you wish to attract is incredibly important.  During any cultural evolution ensure you are blending and managing the transition.


Here we explore some key ways to ensure your culture attracts new talent while supporting your existing talent;



  1. Authenticity

To attract the best of the batch so to speak, you need to ensure you are appealing to their desires while remaining true to the business.  Millennials are a generation that are more connected to their own authenticity, at an early stage, than any other.  It is important to them that they can connect with the purpose of the business.  Putting on a shiny front which doesn’t carry through to the day to day of the business will only result in turnover.  Millennials aren’t afraid to move on if the role or the business does not stand up to their expectations, so ensure you manage these at interview stage.


Your authenticity must come through every touch point of the business – it is not genuine, misleading and risky to talk up a culture you believe a candidate is looking for, rather than being realistic.


  1. Connection

Creating a connection between new employees and the business in the first 100 days is essential.  This creates a feeling of belonging and deeper desire to make the venture work out.  Developing a well-managed on-boarding program provides you with the opportunity to check in with new talent on a regular basis to ensure they are connecting with the business, its values and the team.


On-boarding is not simply about a desk full of paraphernalia, new gadgets and toys (which we are seeing a lot of on social media recently – though this is a good start!), it’s about how you can ensure that deep connection is built with the new team member. On-boarding starts from the time you decide the person is right for the business, from the way you make the offer of employment through the time before they start and should be well and truly solidified by the end of the 100th day.


  1. Personal Development / Career Planning

These guys are keen to develop – quickly!  That doesn’t mean they won’t put in the hard yards, it means they want to know what they need to do to get ahead.  Be open minded about the way you manage them and their wants.  Remember they grew up in a different world, where everything is available now.  This has created an energy of being able to move things quickly.


Leadership is important to them, in both a managerial way as well as mentoring. Providing them with the tools to improve and grow will result in loyalty and skills development, adding more value to the business.


Communicating the review or feedback process, and committing to it is essential with millennials as it should be with all of your team.  We believe in 100 day coaching, relaxed sessions with team members every 100 days to discuss their role, challenges and areas to focus on. Not only does this provide regular input into their development it also forges open relationships between managers and their teams.


  1. Work Life Integration

According to the Intelligence Group as quoted by 88% of millennials are looking for work-life integration, which differs from the previous expectation of work-life balance due to the way technology has blended our work and personal lives. Although true flexibility may be new to you and your organisation, it is often seen as the norm and ‘expected’ now, but not in an entitled way.  Flexibility in working hours and the opportunity to develop through multiple channels rather than a standard one size fits all step development plan all play to the millennials expectations.


Make sure you are working with the team as a whole, building connections between new ways and old. By ensuring deep, genuine connections within your business you will develop a loyal and successful team, no matter their generation.


iknowho places a high priority on ensuring we understand your culture so we can screen applicants to ensure a successful match. Many large organisations are hiring on cultural fit rather than purely skills based.  Skills can be trained, a cultural misfit can cause organisational damage which can take a long time to repair.


The AdNews Agency of the Year Awards will be recognising great talent in their awards for 2016 (entries close 18thJanuary 2017).  Keep an eye out for the results and start thinking about how you can drive your culture to be recognised next year.