Using Your Leisure Culture to Recruit Employees

Written by Paul Marchildon, on January 13, 2015.


What’s it like to work at Google? Fun. Innovative. Fast-paced. Fulfilling, and just plain filling (all those catered meals and the endless smorgasbord of snacks!). How do I know; I don’t work there! Most people, in fact, do not, and yet we’re all familiar with the workplace culture. That’s the power of an effective employer brand. And that’s the power you need to harness to recruit and retain your own employees. Does your reputation precede you? It needs to!

How Much is Culture Worth?

A lot. And yes, I can back that up with quantifiable data. Consider this: studies show that college students are willing to accept a reduction in base salary of up to 7% in exchange for a culture that aligns with their values.

And this: many (18%) list culture as one of their top priorities when choosing a job.

And this: companies that focus on recruiting candidates who will fit the culture outperform their more indiscriminate counterparts.

Bottom line: culture matters. And it is a remarkably powerful tool.

Be Authentic

The only way to leverage your culture for recruiting is to be authentic in everything you do. How? Well, first, you need to have a work/life integration culture in place, at least to a certain degree. You have to have it or be on your way to it. Then you need to live it for your recruits.

At Atlantis, we started right from the beginning. When candidates came in for interviews, we were prepared for them. Ever go in for an interview and feel like an idiot while everyone’s trying to figure out who the heck you are? That was not going to happen! We greeted recruits like we’d greet clients, and they felt special as soon as they walked in the door.

Walking Potential Hires Through the Culture

Instead of jumping right into the awkward “So, tell me about yourself” conversation, the candidates were met by someone at the same level they’d be starting at, or perhaps one step above. Right away, the potential hire could identify with the culture. Here was this person, someone a lot like them, introducing them to the company. Not an austere board chairman or a CEO or a hiring manager who keeps calling them the wrong name; someone who they could relate to immediately.

The company “peer” went into the boardroom with the interviewee, presented our credentials, showed them videos, gave them tours, and got them completely jazzed about the company. The goal: for them to say, “I wanted to work here before I came. Now I have to have this job.”

Another key – and a reason why we attracted superstars – was the nature of the “official” interview itself. We recognized it was a two-way dialogue. Sure, we asked about them to ensure they were a good fit for us, but we wanted them to interview us as well. Would we be a good fit for their goals and aspirations?

What If You’re Not Quite There Yet?

When I sold Atlantis to a much larger agency, the parent company was in transformation. In many ways, it had a work/life integration culture – but in other ways, it did not. One of the reasons why they bought my company was to infuse our culture, and it worked. If your own culture is developing, celebrate that, and use it to your advantage. (Just don’t dupe the interviewees!)

If you’re working towards a leisure culture
, tell them – and show them. You’re obviously going to highlight your best self (do it!) because it indicates what is possible and in what direction your company is growing. Now your selling point to the candidate is this: We think you can help enable and grow this culture.”

Being in on the cutting edge of this transformation? That’s exciting! That’s a reason to accept a job and to be fully engaged in it each day. That’s a reason to talk up your company and do a lot of the heavy lifting of recruiting for you in the future!

Demonstrate It. Live It. Be It.

You’ve worked to build a strong company culture or are working to do so. Now let it work for you. When you’re meeting recruits, make sure they see and experience the culture.

If, at this point, you’re thinking, “Great! Umm… what is our culture?” you’re not alone. Sometimes, we may not even be aware of what is so unique, wonderful, and marketable about our cultures. So find out.

Take a good, hard look at your place of work and assess: where is work/life integration successful? Where is it not? When you’re recruiting, highlight what you’re doing well. And then get to work on the areas that aren’t living up to your standards (yet.)

Every year, 2 million people apply to Google. Why? Because those 2 million people want to participate in that famed culture. They want to be part of a team that innovates, that excels, that provides value to the world. They want to work with an organization that acknowledges their work. It’s not search algorithms; it’s not smartphones or tech solutions; it’s culture. That’s what propels Google, and that’s what can help your company recruit the best and brightest. Start living it – and leveraging it!

Paul Marchildon

Paul Marchildon

A self-proclaimed Leisureologist and Motivational Speaker, Paul Marchildon applies his vast expertise in human engagement to help leaders create more productive, effective organizations. Building on an influential career as a pioneer in employee incentive and loyalty programs, strategic creative communications, social media and mobile marketing, Paul provides insight into the advantages of incorporating a leisure culture in the "work" place. He is past president of Society of Incentive and Travel Executives’ (Site) Canadian Chapter and founder of Atlantis Creative Group (now part of Maritz Canada). He is one of a select group of Canadians who have received the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation.