A few weeks ago a friend of mine sat through a job interview at a startup where she thought she’d be a perfect fit. They asked the usual interview questions, asked about her technical skills, and then they did something that completely ruined their chances of hiring an amazing candidate: they asked her if she liked beer pong, if she minded doing shots, and whether or not she’d be ok with off-site meetings that involved partying and visits to the strip club with clients.
This wasn’t an interview for a job at a bar, a porn website, or a fraternity, but their interview questions implied that their culture is built on drinking, partying, and misogyny. It left my friend with a bad taste in her mouth, and she shared her experience with more than a few people, giving the company a bad reputation in her circle.
My friend’s experiences led us to coin a new name for the Bro-Culture office: “The Bro-ffice”
By now we’re all aware (or at least we should be), that company culture is not created by installing ping pong and foosball tables, and office beer taps. Culture is the unique personality of a company, and it impacts everything, including your branding and the perception that job applicants have of your company.
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy parties, team bonding trips and events, and the occasional drink or three, but it does mean that if you want to grow your business with a highly qualified and diverse team of A players, with the skills to take your business to the next level, you need to make sure you have substance at the core of your company culture.
How do you know if your “Bro-ffice" culture is scaring away the best talent?
- You don’t have authentic company core values that align with your vision and your company values aren’t ingrained in your strategic plans
- Your employees don’t know or respect your company core values
- You only celebrate in one, non-inclusive way that doesn’t fully reflect your company values, the diversity of your workforce, or the diverse workforce you’re trying to build.
- Your only culture development initiatives involve “bonding” over drinking, sexist humour, and games that don’t appeal to women and minorities.
- Your interview questions to determine culture fit are focused on the surface-level aspects of your company culture (such as drinking, sports viewing, “funny” gross/ sexist humour etc), rather than your deeper authentic values, which are demonstrated in many other ways
So what should you do about it?
- Clarify your authentic values, and your company’s authentic values. If you’ve never spent time exploring your values, or creating a vision for your company, make the time to do it. Now. (ahem - we’d love to help with that, our Values & Visioning Workshop and consulting packages are great places to start with this work).
- Incorporate your company’s values and vision into every process, system, and document; job postings, interviews, onboarding, training, weekly meetings, strategic planning, rewards and recognition, performance reviews and more. As Razor Suleman, founder of Achievers and CEO of NextCanada, says “As a founder, it’s your job to tell your team the “why”, and their job to determine the “how”. When everyone knows and understands the company values, they can act in accordance with those values, and build and scale a high performance team that’s in full cultural alignment.
- Include your entire team in planning celebrations that include their interests and needs. Ask them for weekly feedback on rewards and celebrations. Involve them in planning fun company traditions.
- Try some out of the box team bonding activities that engage everyone, beyond just drinking and video games, such as cooking competitions (the Iron Chef), adventure races or scavenger hunts (the Goosechase), charitable activities, artistic events, shows, and more.
- Implement a values-based interview process to help your hiring team avoid unconscious bias and a homogenous workforce. We recommend using Fortay.co in your hiring process!
TL; DR: If you think you have a “Bro-ffice Culture”, you probably do. The first step is to recognize that you need to take action immediately, take time to draft authentic values, and implement them in all of your business processes, strategies, and documents. Include your team in the “how” of implementing culture change, and empower your employees to create a more inclusive and engaged workplace.