An opinion piece by Kathy Rich, People and Culture Lead at Compugen Systems Inc.
On the heels of a pandemic, weathering the storm of the great resignation, and now facing potential recession woes, HR professionals and business leaders alike look for creative ways to aspire to be a best in class employer. Many are turning to cultural elements to help broaden company appeal, in addition to the standard competitive wages and comprehensive benefits offerings. Although the importance of wage and benefit standards certainly continue to hold true, employees want more, and are getting more through empathetic employers that embrace and tackle the ever-morphing topic of company culture.
Here at CSI, we are no different.
We recognize the challenges the current business environment presents and know that we must make a commitment to elevate the employment experience to remain relevant in today’s market. When I joined CSI as their new People and Culture Lead 8 months ago, I was inspired to embrace our cultural evolution. Right out of the gate, I recognized CSI had a true commitment to innovation and creativity, but that commitment was also bolstered by the support of our leader who was willing to take a leap of faith on some nontraditional offerings by supporting the creation of some vehicles for staff to voice their thoughts and giving more of themselves in the workplace. In other words, a willingness to take the road less traveled. The hope was this would not only support continued success but would provide the company, currently in its formative state, with some culture shaping elements to pull our remote team together. Personally, I found the drive for innovation very invigorating after 25 years of HR traditional practices.
CSI has recently experienced a record-breaking revenue milestone this summer, and continues to hire, and expand across the nation. I truly believe one of the contributing factors to such success is the result of challenging ourselves as a business to think outside the box, push past some of those traditional boundaries, and take a deeper dive into the exploration of the Team Member Journey here at CSI. Some of the differentiators that we have pulled into the fold as a result of that deeper dive, are not only contributing to our success story, but are helping us shape our cultural philosophy as a business.
The Team Member Journey not only refers to the onboarding period for our staff, but also refers to the full career cycle of a team member. It starts in the interview process with the very first conversation. Here at CSI, we are thinking about culture even before day one. The realization that brand ambassadors don’t just sit in our marketing department, or at our leadership level, but down the chain and beyond our business walls. P&C is sharing our success story, and our differentiators right off the gate to all potential candidates, so they know just how special CSI really is. As a company, we fully realize the information we share regarding some of our unique offerings in these conversations are then shared with friends, families and business associates and those selling points get shared organically amongst circles of influences and have a positive rippling effect in the community we serve and helps to contribute to our covetous appeal. The upside to these conversations can hold as much weight as target marketing initiatives. As an HR professional, it is always gratifying when you hear some of the words you speak to potential candidates, or to existing staff, come back to you full circle. This affirming moment shows that not only what we do makes a difference, but what we share and how, and we share business information truly matters and can be incredibly impactful.
Once an individual has decided to make CSI an employer of choice, some of these differentiators I refer to are low cost, no cost options, as we realize any business can just throw money at an issue and hope it helps, or simply do what other businesses are doing. We wanted to challenge ourselves in this regard, and that we did.
We have made a commitment to soliciting feedback throughout the entire tenure of our team member journey. Efforts have been made by CSI to proactively solicit feedback, analyze the information and act in that regard. It’s important to our culture to recognize we want to hear from our team far beyond day one.
But again, these days you need to do more than ask your employees their opinion to be an employer of choice.
Some unique offerings we have included are fun hashtag contests to engage the team in content curation for our social media platforms, our Hi-Five
at Five program where a colleague can praise another colleague by tagging them on our intranet at the end of the day, so comradery is fostered, and the Buddy Program, where team members help new hires acclimate into the organization and conversely expose our existing team members to new skills.
But the most significant offering that has caused the business to separate from the pack a bit is the development of our C3, the “CSI Culture Club”. The C3 is a culture initiative where the business engages the team in all sorts of topics whether it’s wellness, wellbeing, recognition, or giving back to just name a few. This initiative has been significant in helping shape our image, our culture, and quite frankly, has been the impetus to a significant shift for the business. Even in a primarily remote/hybrid workforce with a modern philosophy of work anywhere, anytime, by using culture as a driver we have been able to knock down the communication constraints of the remote workplace roadblocks to unleash the full potential of our team. By doing so, we are getting to know our team and fully realizing our team’s talent, we are instilling a sense of vision, values, and inclusivity, all by listening, engaging, and taking some risks.
Soon to be released, our podcast series, “CSItalks” where team members will have the opportunity to share more of themselves. This will be our “virtual water cooler” so to speak. The motto of this new communication vehicle will be -hear something, share something, learn something. This will be yet another differentiator here at CSI and will again be giving the team the opportunity to voice their opinions and to showcase their skills in a unique way. After all, the most successful employers are businesses that are learning to capitalize off their shared talent pool and truly pull from that talent to bolster business development. No more one size fits all, no more cookie cutter mind sets, no more working in silos.
Collaborative and creative workforces have proved to be very successful, and what better way to find out our team’s hidden talents and skill sets than by providing the team with new and creative ways to evolve along with the business as part of their own individual Team Member Journey. We all know there is no stopping engagement and passion, so we are uncovering new ways to discover and harness the energy of both. All by giving the team the means to share more of themselves in unique ways other than what is expected though their traditional job duties, giving a reason for them to take pride and purpose in what they do, and most importantly, by giving them a real voice in the workplace.
In other words, CSI has taken the road less traveled, and it is making all the difference.