Learn from HubSpot and Refine Your Company Culture to Attract the Best Talent

May 22, 2013 - 8 minute read - Posted by

I recently watched a TEDx talk by Brian Halligan, the CEO of Hubspot who talked about how companies can use their culture to attract the brightest Millennial talent (see the video below). This talk completely resonated with me as I’m a Millennial (Gen Y) and have many Millennial friends right now who are actively looking for jobs after graduating from college. The reason I really appreciated this talk is because Brian Halligan shows a realistic comparison of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials in terms of what they are looking for in a company.

You may think that since your company doesn’t have a fancy office, beer on tap, or the biggest budget, it may be hard for you to attract the best Gen Y talent out there. But you may be wrong, because having a great culture can attract the best talent and culture is not about having a cool office or a keg in the lunch room.

Companies have been moving away from the 1970s Baby Boomers era where the mantra revolved around management: the workplaces where the traditional 4 walls offices; and employees planning their whole career for one employer until they retired. There was no need for a standardized performance appraisals as managers usually would micro-manage every little detail to their reports. Then Gen X started entering the workforce which led companies to start changing their culture to reflect what Gen X valued. Performance appraisals became a hot and every company started conducting a performance review once a year. Well this description fits the current situation of most companies these days. However, Brian Halligan raises a very interesting point: Should we not be moving away from the Gen X era to embrace the Millennials as they represent the majority of the workforce? There are hundreds of articles on the internet about what Gen Y values, what are their perspectives on working hours etc. But very few of them talks about what companies should do to align their operations and management practices to match the Millenials.

In this blog I wanted to give you my perspective as a Gen Y on the different subjects Brian Halligan talks about in his talk. At the same time, I’m going to share some tips on how you can adapt your culture to what Gen Y wants at their workplace. Brian Halligan paints a picture of what the 2013 companies should be like:

Mantra – Inspiration:  As a Gen Y, I have to agree 100% with this mantra. We want to be inspired. We want to work for companies who motivate us to achieve excellence, to work for a common goal, and to grow as an individual. With the easy accessibility of information, Gen Y is being picky as they truly believe in working for a company whose core values align with their own personal values. You should break away from the traditional, boring core values that are just a plaque on the wall and create innovative and creative ones such as “Deliver WOW Through Service” which is one of Zappos core values. Learn more about leading and inspiring the Millennials.

Desire – Learning: Baby Boomers wanted a job that would offer them a secure pension to support themselves and their families after they retired. Gen X focused on salary – the more money, the more likely they would stay in the company. But when it comes to Gen Y, what we want is to learn. Of course, we want to have a decent salary that will cover our basic needs and a little vacation from time to time. But no amount of money will matter if we are bored out of our mind. Gen Y has a thirst for learning and mentorship.

Hours and Workplace – Whenever and Wherever: Gen Y lives through technology. It’s a fact that many companies should start embracing rather than resisting. Sometimes we function at different pace – it happened to me couple of times that I would have a crazy idea and would share it with my co-workers at 9 pm. Do not limit your employees to be inspired only from 9-5. And this is where a strong culture is important – Yes you want to ensure that all of your team members understand that they are held accountable for their duties, but you are not micromanaging them to deliver their best performance during a fixed set of time during the day. Also, you may considering throwing away your vacation policy just like HubSpot did.

And finally, Gen Y craves for ad hoc feedback. We want it whenever we want to and whenever it is needed. The traditional performance appraisals are usually conducted once a year, twice if you are lucky. But given that a Gen Y stays in a job for approximately 18 months on average (great companies like HubSpot get to keep Gen Ys for much longer), you are not doing us a favour by showing interest in our performance once a year. We want to get better faster, that’s why we want to receive as much feedback as possible on a continuous basis. You may want to consider evolving your 360 feedback process to make it continuous and employee-driven. Now, many managers would use the “well it’s not like we have all the time in the world to sit down with each employee to coach them”. This is where social performance management comes in. We are a tech-savvy generation, and companies need to embrace it. Social performance tools such as 7Geese allows you to provide feedback and recognize your employees in real-time. Social performance management allows you to be involved with what your employees are doing and to be actively supporting them when needed.

Generation Y is coming into the workforce at a fast pace and they now represent the majority of the workforce. It is definitely a challenge to adapt your culture to Gen Y as many workplaces have a mixture of Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y as employees. However, it is important to start taking baby steps to accommodate the Millenials as you do not want to lag behind when it comes to attracting the best talent for your organization.

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