Tag Archives: strategy

Organizational Culture Series Part I: Friendliness and Pace

My story begins in the small town of Ames Iowa.  Not exactly the kind of place you would expect to go to study organizational culture but I find myself at a small but rapidly growing tech company called Webfilings to talk about their culture and their recruiting systems.

I already had a copy of their culture report based on comprehensive surveys of their employees.  Two things that stood out in the culture survey became immediately apparent moments after walking through their doors- Friendliness and Pace.  Webfilings oozed both of these qualities- a rare combination.  First and foremost what struck me was the warm and welcoming atmosphere. From the receptionist to senior management I was immediately welcomed.  I felt like I had walked into a family gathering and was an honoured guest.  During my stay I was always greeted with generous smiles and sincere queries into my accommodations and wellbeing.  I have no doubt that some of that friendliness was a result of the Iowan culture in general which is well known for its hospitality.  It was also clearly a deliberate result of Webfilings management to create this atmosphere.  As a software company, they compete directly with attractive employers like Google and Facebook for talent.  Webfilings had built itself from the ground up to be a sharing collaborative environment that could attract smart, young programmers and support personnel.  A large lunch hall provided free catered meals served at long tables with bench-style seating to encourage sharing meals together.  Team rooms dotted the scattered complex to encourage open discussion. Senior managers dressed in casual clothes and it was often impossible to tell by looking who was in charge.

I noticed that everyone’s workspace was dotted with rubber ducks and I asked why these were everywhere.  It turns out that the Webfilings buildings are located near a large concrete water drainage structure and when it rains it turns into a temporary stream.  To blow off steam some of the founding employees decided one rainy day to race some rubber ducks.  Now all new hires find themselves purchasing their own lucky ducks- some are decorated in racing stripes and other identifying features.  When it rains Webfilings employees can be found racing them together. A shared moment of joy in the rain to break up a hectic day.  One more part of their friendly culture.  It was hard not to have a corporate crush on Webfilings.

However, to say Webfilings was hectic is an understatement.  Their Pace score compared to over 1200 companies in our culture database was off the charts- well over the 90th percentile.  Hectic frenzied activity was a hallmark of this junior company.  Webfilings was abuzz with activity, an excitement that permeated the place.  In preparing for my visit it wasn’t unusual to receive e-mails sent at 2 or 3 a.m. from senior managers taking care of business in the wee hours.  I got a sense of what their daily schedules were like.  During my day and a half workshop the attendees were constantly changing with people darting in and out to take care of urgent business.  Smart phones clicked, buzzed and whirred and you learned quickly to cut to the chase or risk losing your preoccupied audience.  Despite the frantic pace of activity, Webfilings employees seemed genuinely excited and happy to be there.  In a country that has experienced considerable setbacks in employment, I sensed that the employees were proud and energized by their shared success.

Moving forward, rapidly growing companies like Webfilings are the most vulnerable to unintended cultural change.  Each new hire has the potential to influence the corporate culture- particularly at the management level.  It was clear that they liked who they were as a company and hiring new employees who fit into their culture was a priority for them. It was one of the many levers they were pushing to steer their little company in the direction they desired.


Derek Chapman, Ph.D.President & Founder CounterpartMatch.com

Four Strategies to Retain Employees

Employee retention strategies

Four Strategies for Retaining Employees

Competition is heating up in the job market. Finding and keeping key employees is becoming more challenging. There are several strategies for retaining employees in competitive times:

1)Bribe them: this strategy involves high pay and benefits to attract and retain employees.

a) Advantages: it is quick, it is effective (in the short term), it is simple to implement

b) Disadvantages: this strategy is easily copied by your competitors creating an escalating bidding war for talent; this is the most costly method of solving the problem; workers who are hired in this system tend to be mercenary they will stay with you only for the pay and are the least productive workers; it is only effective for the short term as workers quickly feel entitled to the new level of pay/benefits

2) Build an attractive employer brand: Foster a corporate culture that attracts people and keeps them there. Knowing what workers are looking for in a workplace and creating that environment can assist in attracting and keeping key talent.

Advantages: Once this is in place it works for you 24/7 with less input needed to keep it going- your reputation is the asset; workers will stay in these organizations with lower pay and benefit incentives making it inexpensive once it is established; very difficult for competitors to copy your culture so you retain advantage for some time.

Disadvantages: This takes a long and concerted effort to establish; initial costs can be high; companies with existing strong cultures may find it hard to change them; harder to implement in larger companies relative to small ones.


3)Hire for Fit: Find employees who are a good match for your company culture and hire people who fit that culture.

a) Advantages: Far easier to do than changing your corporate culture;least expensive of the strategies; Can be implemented very quickly; highly effective; long lasting effects; reduce payroll and benefit costs as people hired are less mercenary; reduces competition with other employers who copy your strategy as they are looking for employees to fit their culture not yours;

b)Disadvantages: Works fastest when a lot of hiring is happening, otherwise the effects take longer to become established; good tools are needed to make this type of match (we have those tools available);

4) Bind them to you with contracts : Use legal contracts that require new employees to work for minimum periods or be penalized for breaking the contract.

a) Advantages: Simple to implement; legal costs are up front; predictability of work force due to knowing when workers are eligible to leave.

b) Disadvantages: The contract works both ways so you may be obligated to employ workers longer than you want; mass exodus of workers at the end of contracts can create a contagious effect on other workers; work performance suffers because workers stay only because they have to and do the bare minimum.

Which strategy should I choose?

Many factors need to be considered before choosing a recruiting and retention strategy including the size of the problem, company size, frequency of hires, industry, availability of qualified applicants and so forth. Often more than one strategy is used simultaneously to improve the chances of success. Contact us at sales@counterpartmatch.com if you have any questions.