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Building better workplace cultures: Top tips for HR teams

Last Christmas, Amazon stole the headlines when it doubled the signing on bonus for new starters at some depots to £3,000. But even in a strong economy, most organisations can’t win a salary race. Plus, this approach risks attracting the types of employees who will jump ship whenever another opportunity comes along that offers marginally better pay.

The only sustainable way to win the war for talent, is by creating strong workplace cultures that are powered by a great employee experience. In fact, in our survey, culture was ranked as the most effective lever to attract talent. And this trumped offering higher salaries or opportunities for career advancement.

How can you build better workplace cultures through the employee experience?

There are opportunities to power workplace cultures through the employee experience at every stage of the employee lifecycle. As a start, ask the following questions of your organisation which can form the basis for planning and designing your desired employee experience:

Attraction – Are you highlighting the best of the company and its culture to attract the best candidates? Do you have a strong, intentional employer brand and employee value proposition (EVP)?

Recruitment – What is the current candidate experience and is it fair and transparent? Does the recruitment process produce the best employees for the roles advertised?

Onboarding – How do you enable and empower new starters to deliver? Are you providing them with the tools and skills to be able to do the job with clear expectations? How do you affirm the individual’s decision to join the organisation?

Connection – Organisations can’t drive engagement; it is a choice. So how can your organisation create an environment where people feel that they belong? How can you understand how individual employees contribute to the end goals and feel part of something where they are willing to contribute more than is asked of them?

Development – Does your organisation offer development opportunities, career paths and personal growth?

Perform – Do leaders ensure that all employees are supported and are able to perform at their best?

Life events – How do you manage and support employees through life events? This can be from personal events that may impact their mental health, to internal, corporate events such as promotion or greater people management responsibilities.

Exit – Why do employees leave? Does the offboarding process create a positive experience where alumni may choose to return at a later date?

Further tips for HR teams

Pay attention to the moments that matter

The moments that matter are important moments that occur in the employee journey. And it’s these moments that impact individual experiences, affecting how (and how much) employees engage in the workplace. Paying close attention to these moments will allow your organisation to become familiar with and understand what is important to your people. For example, a moment that matters could be onboarding, paternity leave, recognition in the team meeting, promotion, divorce, and 1:1s.

“Moments that matter are important moments in the employee journey. These moments impact individual experiences and affect how employees engage in the workplace. And paying close attention to these moments allows organisations to become familiar with, and understand, what’s important to their people. Examples of moments that matter can include onboarding, recognition in the team meeting, furlough, parental leave, a colleague leaving, development, and 1:1s.” – Dawn Smedley, Head of Culture at WorkBuzz

Demonstrate workplace cultures on social media

Social media marketing is your friend if you want to attract prospective employees into your organisation. So, embrace it! Alongside showcasing what it’s like to be a member of the team from a company angle, encourage your current employees to share what it’s like to work for you. Their individual stories will resonate and prevent what you’re saying being seen as ‘fake news’. And if they like what they see, this will help you to fast find a candidate that’s a good business fit.

Be sure to practise what you preach

Despite the current war for talent, don’t be tempted into making extravagant promises to new candidates, or even current employees, as a strategy for retention. Any promise that you make to new hires about what the experience of working for you will be like must be fulfilled. Otherwise, this breach of trust will become detrimental to the attitudes and behaviours of employees. It will deter them from going the extra mile and will cloud other positive actions that have been fulfilled in your organisation.

Continually inspire

Provide an inspiring vision and purpose to the employees you’ve already got, and to the candidates you want to hire. Now more than ever, people want to work for companies that clearly articulate their reason for being. And doing this well is how you will stand out in a crowded marketplace.

It’s also equally as important to demonstrate your business values. But these will only differentiate your organisation if they are real and embedded. Consider starting every meeting, from the Board level downwards, with a ‘moment’ relating to your values to reinforce that they really do matter.


This article contains a snippet from our 2022 report on The State of Employee Engagement. This report draws on insights from our 400+ clients at WorkBuzz and research conducted with 300+ people and business leaders. It outlines their top priorities, best practices, and different perspectives to help you navigate an ever-changing world of work. Download the full version of the report below. You can also view all our other eBooks available to download here.

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