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December 9, 2021

The Whats and Whys of a Strong Staffing Company Culture

Office culture. We know that it’s critical to talent retention and attraction, to team happiness and productivity, and ultimately to an organization’s bottom line. But what if you don’t have an office?

It’s a situation that most (if not all) staffing firms have faced since the beginning of 2020, when offices were traded for homes, and watercooler chats were traded for Zoom calls.

In this three-blog series, we will look closer look at the modern challenge of building and enhancing company culture, whether that company is found within a single office, or spread across countless homes. We’ll be working to understand the ever-increasing role of technology in helping you generate, enhance, and ultimately evangelize that culture, and we’ll be looking at how thinking critically about culture can get you going in the right direction.

But before we look at the solutions, we must first work to understand the challenge at hand. What exactly does a strong company culture look like for a modern staffing firm, and why should you be acting now?

Developing a Healthy Company Culture: An Example

Citius, altius, fortius – faster, higher, stronger. The Olympic motto could just as easily be applied to organizations in the staffing space, and in 2011, Chicago-based solutions provider kCura did exactly that, albeit somewhat unwittingly.

In 2011 we were wedged between the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where Lindsey Vonn, Shaun White, and Evan Lysacek dominated while looking forward to the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where Michael Phelps would look to somehow back up his 2008 haul of eight golds.

kCura cared – and continues to care – about culture. Fun was actively encouraged, and employees were given free rein to suggest and implement team activities. It was an environment where every idea was heard out, and a good many were accepted. One such idea went on to become the K Olympics.

It was an event organized entirely off the backs of employees, who created a number of events that any team member could enter. While the events themselves weren’t exactly Olympic – there were talent shows, cooking competitions, and even an amazing race around the city in which competitors were challenged to spot deformed pigeons – the spirit of the games was most certainly there.

The entire team took to it instantly, whether participating or simply cheering from the sidelines. It was fun, it was wacky, and it caught on, with the now annual event becoming the first thing marked on company calendars.

And at a time when employer branding wasn’t a widely recognized or understood concept, a social media post about the K Olympics suddenly gained real traction. The event went on to organically become a part of kCura’s employer brand – the company shared the fun online, talked about it at industry events, and even brought it up in interviews with top talent. All this from an idea that didn’t emanate from HR, marketing, or a dedicated employer brand team, but from a small group of workers who felt energized by the culture they found themselves in and supported by their company.

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Create the right conditions, and culture will grow

10 years and one rebrand later, kCura is now Relativity, and the K Olympics is now the REL Olympics. The event has only become bigger over the years, helped by the fact that the original team of 100 has now grown into a team of 1300+, many of whom were attracted by the alluring picture that the in-house Olympics painted.

The moral of the story? Company culture comes from within, and under the right conditions, it isn’t just self-sustaining, it actively grows. Not many workplaces would offer their teams the flexibility to run around the city searching for deformed pigeons on company time, but kCura/Relativity did. And they reaped incredible benefits because of it.

Sure, your staffing firm might not be able to loosen the leash quite as far as a tech startup, but there remain a wealth of ways in which your company culture can be weeded, watered, and fertilized.

Making a tangible case for company culture

Is culture as important in staffing as it is in other sectors? The answer can be seen in staffing and recruiting’s annual turnover rate, which is amongst the highest of any industry. Depending on your source, between  25% and  43% of recruiters leave their firm in any given year. The industry simply must get better at retaining talented recruiters. Only then can it regularly attract good recruiters.

This is easier said than done during the Great Resignation, which is having a real impact on the ability of staffing firms to develop a healthy culture. In the  Staffing Hub’s 2020 State of Staffing Survey, two of the biggest challenges that staffing firms identified were:

  • Retaining top talent.
  • Managing and retaining office culture.

There are broader global trends to consider too. A recent Gallup poll found that only  15% of workers are happy and productive in the workplace. It’s natural to think that your entire team falls within that 15%, but the numbers simply don’t back you up. From a pure statistics standpoint, a team of 10 has a one in ~172 million chance of being completely happy and productive. The sobering reality is that a large majority of your team likely aren't.

Happiness and productivity are deeply intertwined, with happy workers being  13% more productive than average. On the flip side, there are the costs of losing good workers to consider: the price of turnover is  1.5 to 2 times an employee’s salary once hiring, training, and lost productivity are accounted for. Last year  $630 billion was spent by US industries on employee turnover.

The way in which we work has undergone such a rapid change since the beginning of 2020. We're only now beginning to understand and unpack how employee expectations have changed, and what that means in terms of developing a strong and successful company culture.

Given all the above, there’s no better time than now to develop your internal office culture. The next question: how?

That is the topic for our next blog, where we’ll be exploring the four core tenets of company culture, and how a staffing firm can achieve each by utilizing smart technology. Check it out here.