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Utah Business

This month, Utah Business partnered with Motivosity to host a roundtable event featuring Utah human resources leaders to discuss building company culture.

Company Culture Roundtable

This month, Utah Business partnered with Motivosity to host a roundtable event featuring Utah human resources leaders to discuss building company culture, retaining talent, and engaging remote employees. Moderated by Joe Staples, chief marketing officer of recognition software firm Motivosity, here are a few highlights from the event.

How would you best define culture in 2019?

Michelle Vargas | SVP of HR | HireVue

One of the most important parts of workplace culture is having an honest and open communication between the leader and the employees. You know we talk about culture a lot, like, oh they do all of these cool things at their company and they have all of these food on-site and all these perks, but people honestly do not love companies because of those reasons. 

They really look at what that relationship is with their team, with their leader, and how they feel about how they are valued, how they are recognized, and what opportunities they have to grow and develop. And that’s what creates a good culture. That’s what makes people want to stay in a company and really be a part of something that they feel like is important to them.

Salena Blocker | Sr. Manager, People | Ancestry

My thought with that is it is so important for the efforts around culture to be genuine. It’s like, ‘hey, this is what everyone thinks our culture is’ and then when you have an interview or something, people ask, ‘so what’s it really like?’ I think the more in line and true to that culture, to that brand that you are putting out there, the more that your leaders are actually walking that walk and talking that talk and genuine it is, the more that culture will sit and people will be attracted to that. And then they’ll say because it’s true, right, because the managers do exemplify this culture that we’re putting out there.

What factors contribute to an employee feeling satisfied at work?

Joe Staples | CMO | Motivosity

Employees want to feel appreciated for the work they do. Boston Consulting Group said that the three top motivators for employee satisfaction are: ‘I feel appreciated for my work, I have a strong relationship with my manager, and I feel a connection or sense of community with my coworkers.’ 

Michelle Vargas | SVP of HR | HireVue

Making sure that employees understand how their role fits into the bigger picture of the organization is key. And I guess that is being appreciated and understanding that even if I’m a janitor, I think you guys have probably heard this story where the doctor made a big deal about this hospital janitor because he kept it clean so that people didn’t die from diseases or infections or things like that. 

So everybody’s role regardless of how it may appear, we all have an important role in the organization and everybody needs to understand that from the very beginning of their experience with the organization. I think that if people can understand their role and how it fits into the organization’s goals and they are all important, it makes people feel really valued.

What tips do you have for attracting and retaining talent?

Linda Makin | VP, Planning, Budget, & HR | Utah Valley University

You have to explain, ‘this is who we are and this is what we do,’ and at Utah Valley University we are not a research university, we are a teaching university, so when we are recruiting faculty, we want them to understand, your primary focus will be teaching, interacting with the students with our staff. Our focus is on success and helping them achieve their dreams. We have to be really careful about our message to make sure that we are recruiting folks that can embrace that. 

Brad Jensen | VP of Sales & Client Success | Motivosity

When it comes to attraction and retention, we first started with retention. One of the things that we focus on is we need team members to hold us accountable to our mission, vision, and values. Hold us accountable for the things that we say or promise to deliver. We don’t want individuals to take our word for it saying we have a good culture and this and that because that’s a part of the spirit. Each team member has different unique perspectives, insights, and experiences so if they feel something is lacking we need to create open dialogues and channels where they can facilitate. If they are not dialoguing with us they have a greater opportunity to fail when it comes to retention.

So then, once we facilitate a good open environment where people can talk openly and we can work together to solve minor issues or large issues, then we can have a positive workplace experience that attracts their referrals, their team members, other individuals that can see the product and environment.

How do you adapt to generational differences in the workplace? 

Linda Makin | VP of Planning, Budget, & HR | Utah Valley University

Our core business is focused on the rising generations and always has been. I think for us, we are constantly adapting to the changes generationally. We have employees in their seventies to employees that are 18 years old and it does impact the workforce but again that is also sort of our core business. So meeting the needs, removing barriers, seeing them as whole people, it is them and their families and their extended life. They have a real integrated life view and it is really quite fascinating.

Salena Blocker | Sr. Manager, People | Ancestry

I think it is interesting because one thing you have to think about is, do you have the avenue to get the feedback from what employees are actually wanting?  You know like through engagement surveys so you can kind of get the buzz. For instance, I think on-site childcare has been something that people have been talking about and we were talking to our total rewards department, they are thinking ‘well is that really what everybody needs? Let’s find out.’ So we have been surveying the employees, both the people who might have the need or not to understand if there is truly a need. 

How do you engage remote employees? 

Michelle Vargas | SVP of HR | HireVue

At least a third of our workforce is remote. One of the things that we do, which I think is very impactful, is have every new hire come to our corporate office as part of the onboarding process. You go through the academy a couple of days just learning about the company and connecting with their manager who comes on-site as well to make sure that they are connecting with the team and people that are going to work alongside them.  

I think that really makes a difference because they come in and they see the culture, they see what the organization is about, they meet important people, and they meet executive team members. They connect with others and that really helps, I think, to develop a foundation of who we are and what we are about and then they can feel a little bit more connected to the rest of the organization while they are out on their island working.

We also have the teams do a lot of offsite meetings together because a lot of people are working remotely in our CS team and our sales teams and I think that helps as well. We use Zoom meetings. Everything is a Zoom meeting at our company, so it’s always visual. It always feels like you are right there with that person and that helps us because it makes it that you may be hundreds of miles away but you feel like you are all connected with every meeting you attend.

Brad Jensen | VP of Sales & Client Success | Motivosity

As a manager with remote employees, I find it really challenging because the people that are in the office take advantage of the nearness. They are next to you and they leverage that and so it is setting expectations with remote employees as well. ‘I expect you to engage with me just like Peter across the aisle does.’ 

So when you talk about situational coaching Peter will come ask me this, this, and this and when you finish a call if you have a question, ping me, slack, zoom, same thing. The more real-time and personal you can make it the more connected they feel to me and the team that it is a kind of mutual expectation where I love the foundation of an onsite experience but the day to day is here how I expect you to engage with me so that I can help you most.

Salena Blocker | Sr. Manager, People | Ancestry

When you are planning some of those more perkish-type things, like team lunches, it is always being mindful of hey, we are having a company lunch here on site but let’s send out some gift cards to those people that are remote. Those little things really make an impact. So like, ‘hey, I know I can’t be there and it is always a bummer but I know I am still appreciated and that they are thinking about me.’

What culture hack would you like to share? 

Brad Jensen | VP of Sales & Client Success | Motivosity

To me, it is about alignment and helping individuals find what winning looks like for them. If they don’t feel like they are winning, they will leave. You have to attract talent by winning. You have to retain talent by winning so what does winning look like for the individual? What does it look like for the organization?  

We’ve seen real, data-driven results that if you focus on those three drivers in employee satisfaction, that contributes to culture that if we really are deliberate about the way we appreciate and recognize one another, if we have a culture of caring, if we work on relationships between managers and their direct reports that create a sense of community that they don’t want to miss out on, so I think focus on the fundamentals is my culture hack. We don’t have to get crazy to keep up with the perks down the street.

Salena Blocker | Sr. Manager, People | Ancestry

I think people want to have an impact in the workplace and are looking for the company in which they can do that and which aligns with their values and what they want to do. Making sure that you are genuine to what you are advertising out there will draw people in and if your managers are living and breathing that day-to-day then the people stick around because they are getting to make that impact that they wanted to. I really feel like it has a lot to do with that piece of being genuine and the manager’s ability to make that connection, understand what that employee is looking for so they can help build that experience.

Michelle Vargas | SVP of HR | HireVue

Culture eats strategy for lunch.

Linda Brandon | VP of HR | BioFire Diagnostics

I also think that we need to constantly reassess our culture and check to see if it is what we think it is, and to be willing to admit that there could be changes and that that’s maybe not a bad thing.

Comments (2)

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    Casey Bailey

    The quote attributed to me is not my quote. Divvy doesn’t save human lives, but we do make spending money smarter. 🙂

    • Kelsie Foreman

      Kelsie Foreman

      Whoops! So sorry about that Casey, we have corrected the misattribution!

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