What if you could surround yourself with an amazing team?

People you actually like and help motivate and inspire you.

We know culture is important, but Daniel Chait, CEO of Greenhouse, thinks the best way to impact corporate culture begins with hiring.

Daniel and Greenhouse have had the lofty task of maintaining a prosperous culture while experiencing dynamic growth.  So often we deal with affecting corporate cultures where there’s an absence of clear direction or even poisonous elements adversely affecting the environment.

The notion of being able to circumvent a lot of the messiness right from the beginning is worth exploring.  And while sweeping change is surgical and painful at times, there are some small shifts that can be made in our way of thinking that can immediately impact this process and perhaps ultimately provide the kick in the tush we need to make the bigger jumps.

Hiring Is Important

It’s also very difficult.  

So it’s easy to forget how profoundly impactful it is to your business until it’s too late.

Hiring is increasingly outsourced or pushed to the side as nominally important.  And while that may sometimes be a more efficient way with time and money up front, the impact it’s having on your culture might be dramatically affecting your company.

This isn’t to say that outsourcing is always bad; simply that if that external agency isn’t keenly aware of and in line with your cultural values, it’s likely they’re sending you very qualified terrible fits.

“Hiring is one of the most impactful activities that any organization can take.”
– Daniel Chait

Given the importance of hiring, it’s something we very much should have our hands in. And not just from the beginning when our company has four people, but when we’re pushing three hundred.

Instead of regarding the HR department as a nuisance or something entirely separate from the rest of the business, we should be looking at it as a tool.

The Right People

First, have you considered who the “right” person for the job and culture are?

It seems like an odd question at first, but the kind of specificity needed to set hiring parameters is often overlooked, especially when it comes to how that new hire might fit into a company’s culture.  

And that’s particularly true when the culture itself is ill-defined.

Time is valuable and hard to find.  But setting aside time to clearly define your values, ensure they’re being properly upheld in the current environment, and then ensuring they permeate the hiring process are all things that impact the people you’re finding and how they fit into your business.

“Your culture has to be a tool for you to attract not just the best people, but the right people for your organization.”
– Daniel Chait

Creating a culture where talented and fitting people can flourish is integral to ongoing success.

You’re not just evaluating employees; they’re evaluating you as well.

Additionally, the position you take regarding the importance of your employees and the attributes you incentivize will ultimately determine their ability to add continued value to your company.

Imagine walking into a work environment every day where you feel empowered, cared for, and encouraged or motivated.  Is there anything more valuable to an employee than that? And this will affect their performance!

At the end of the day, we want to ensure that employees are adding as much value as possible during their time with us.

The $100,000,000 Staffing Problem

Culture has always been important.  

And it’s importance is growing, as it’s attached more and more indelibly to a company’s bottom line.  While the game is the same with regards to hiring talented and skilled individuals that get the job done, we’re seeing a shift in the environment in which this game is played.

If you have a people problem, you have a business problem.  

“The line between what’s a business problem and what’s a people problem is going away.”
– Daniel Chait

When you’re first starting out, one hundred million dollars seems like an inconceivable amount.  However, when you consider the life of a business and the impact good and bad hires make on the bottom line (directly or indirectly) the notion seems far more reasonable.

And while the actual numbers may be lower, failing to act now on both your hiring elements and the culture you foster for current employees could mean both financial windfalls and – maybe more devastating – missed opportunities.

It’s impossible not to have a culture.

There’s a natural tension that exists in your culture as you try to create beautiful products and services.  Bringing a group of people together results in a dynamic that can drive your company to the next level or make the entire process unnecessarily difficult.

In the most recent episode of the What Culture Could Be podcast,  I chatted with Blake Garrett, Founder and CEO at Aceable Inc., about existing in the arena of high stakes education and what it takes to maintain a productive culture amidst a time of rapid growth, fund raising, and business acquisition.

Create The Culture You Want

In the end, as the executive either you define the culture or it is defined for you.  Ignoring it is not an option. And if you would take a look at the downstream metrics that show what an impact maximum engagement brings, you’d be wondering why you haven’t taken a more serious and proactive look at your company’s cultural development.

“You can make it engaging, entertaining, and more effective at creating outcomes.” – Blake Garrett

Blake admits that thinking about how to best utilize his people keeps him up at nights.  Appreciating the impact of his team – which he considers his most valuable resource – causes him to look not just at what the team is doing, but also what he can do as the head person to inspire empathy and trust within the company.

He recalls of 5 Dysfunctions of a Team where mistrust is the base of the pyramid of dysfunction.  If you’ve ever been part of a mistrustful team it’s easy to see how that dynamic can gradually erode the trust that helps your team add value to customers.

Conversely, creating an atmosphere where you and your team love to work goes a long way towards retention and productivity, which results in success.  And that is something that will definitely help you sleep better!

The Ebb And Flow Of Great Culture

“Things change,” Blake reminds us, “We’re not the same company we were years ago when we were only fifteen people.”  As a company evolves, jobs and roles change. There’s a natural friction that happens as people try to do their jobs well.

But this doesn’t happen well without conflict management.  It’s not that you or your employees should relish conflict; you should be able to have it productively, respectfully, and empathetically.  It seems as though, left to their own devices, people shy away from conflict (even when resolution is needed) and passive aggressiveness ensues.

Blake reminds us that “A huge part of culture is what’s not said,” and what’s passive can be quickly overlooked.  Culture isn’t something you can just wind up, let go, and hope for the best. It’s as dynamic as the people of which it is comprised.  And any space you’re not filling will be filled with something else.

“Tensions are normal, but if tensions are executed in an effective way they can quickly lead to the degradation of a culture.” – Blake Garrett

Invest in your team.  It’s more cost effective to retain the employees you have than to hire new people.  And without the proper environment, you might only be tossing another employee into the proverbial meat grinder.  It throws you into a seemingly endless loop, while serving to simultaneous stalemate your company’s growth.

You’ve gone to great lengths to seek out and hire the right people.  Keep them.

Creating a great culture – complete with the reality that it should be flexible enough to accommodate for growth – is the best way to circumvent major mistakes on the front end.

Blake recommends a people leader or team that whose focus is maximum employee engagement.  We’re not just talking about “happier and healthier” employees, which is also good, but about driving the efficiency of the team.

Properly positioning this person (or team) in your company structure will allow them to drive engagement and produce down-the-line results.

Clinging To Your Values

It’s easy to begin cutting programs, leading from the podium, and pulling away from engagement when things are rough.

However, adversity will reveal whether or not the values you’ve established are truly part of your culture.

People behave differently when they’re stressed.  At Aceable, Blake and his team use the DiSC Survey, which sheds some light on the variance of an individual with regards to how they behave when their stressed versus when they are relaxed.

Do employees have a sense of solidarity in their environment – something to cling to when things are going wrong?

“It’s impossible not to have a culture.” – Blake Garrett

Your core values define your company.  And nowhere will it be more obvious than to the people who work there.  It’s one thing to say that your most valuable asset is your people; it’s an entirely different thing to stay that course when the situation is dire.

“Looking back at the moments you’ve survived,” Blake says, “strengthens your team and creates a stronger culture.”  Not all businesses survive, but it’s a safe bet to think that the ones who stuck to great value are the ones who stayed the course.

The values you decide upon as a leader – not just the ones you proclaim on a mission statement, but the deeply abiding truths about your character and the quality of your company – will be integrated into your company culture.

Look at leaders like Blake and the team he’s put in place to bring success in a difficult market as an example of where great culture breeds business success.

Let’s be real, sometimes holding down the Human Resources department of a business can feel less than magical. Office disputes, payroll issues, and logistical nightmares come with the territory – and sometimes all you can do is laugh.

For those moments where you wish you could disapparate from the chaos, we’ve put together a collection of Harry Potter gifs that will get you through every HR debacle with a smile on your face.

1. When your team completes open enrollment by the deadline.


2. When your newest hire asks for a 30% pay increase.


3. When your Indeed posting actually generates quality candidates.


4. When you’re asked to book flights for your executive team two days before a conference.


5. When your therapist asks how work is going.


6. When you have to facilitate annual reviews.


7. The pep talk you give yourself before an exit interview with the office hothead.


8. When everything you warned your CEO about unfolds right before their eyes.


9. When you have to remain a neutral third party during an office dispute.


10. When your team complains about the offbrand fizzy water in the shared fridge.


11. When you’re ineligible for “Employee of the Month” because you’re responsible for updating the award plaque.


12. When you’re forced to attend a “working lunch.”


13. When half your company contests their remaining vacation days on December 1st.

Are your Learning & Development opportunities falling flat?

With millennials rating L&D opportunities as the number one indicator of a good job, it’s more important than ever for companies to dedicate time and resources to developing quality L&D programs.

And though many companies know the impact of Learning and Development on workplace engagement and recruiting efforts, employees across industries are underserved by their L&D options. (Not convinced? Just check out the overall net promoter score for training departments, which sits at a staggering negative eight).

So, how do you harness the power of this sought-after perk?


Get Started with YouEarnedIt

Leveling Up Your Learning and Development: Applying a Growth Mindset

Webinar: Tues, Jan 22, 2019 2:00 PM CST

With learned skills dropping to a half-life of 5 years, it’s critical that companies look beyond compliance training to re-imagine their L&D programs as opportunities to arm their teams with the knowledge to tackle changing industries, trends, and tools.

On January 22, join YouEarnedIt and HighGround for a 45-minute webinar that uncovers the secrets behind building impactful Learning and Development programs, including:

  1. Learn the business benefits of applying  a “growth mindset” to your programs
  2. Discover what your L&D program needs to make it more effective
  3. Gain tips for implementing a growth mindset in your L&D efforts
  4. Hear success stories studied by the NeuroLeadership Institute

Speakers: Andee Harris, President of YouEarnedIt/HighGround | Mary Slaughter from the Neuroleadership Institute

Download the Guide

Register for our webinar for SHRM Credit and get behind-the-scenes tips from Learning and Development experts, research-backed data on the effects of successful L&D programs, and actionable steps for building your own.

About YouEarnedIt

YouEarnedIt amplifies company culture through its award-winning employee experience platform that delivers engagement, retention, performance management, and improved business metrics. As a dominant force in the HCM market with an industry-leading retention rate, YouEarnedIt partners with more than 400 global organizations to build high-performance cultures and engaged workforces. Founded in 2013, YouEarnedIt continues to revolutionize the employee experience with its platform based on the science of motivation, rewards, and recognition. To request a demo, visit www.yeistaging.wpengine.com/demo.

You’ve identified your needs, researched HR strategies, chosen a technology partner and launched your real-time performance management and/or social recognition platform. Your job here is done, right? Wrong. The best-planned program can still fail miserably if it doesn’t become a part of your organization’s everyday activities.

We’ve asked our clients for their top suggestions for keeping their programs fresh.

1. Award limited edition badges for a get-it-before-it’s-gone sense of excitement. These can be specific to company events or milestones or celebrate new products or services. More generally, these badges can be in support of standard holidays like administrative assistant day, etc. or even made up holidays. One Kazoo client created a Chuck Norris-themed badge to celebrate its “Day of Awesomeness.”

2. Create a monthly award to reinforce your company mission and values. These could support the behaviors and competencies the organization wants employees to embody, such as community or integrity, and be awarded in a town hall meeting setting or announced in the platform.

3. Bring the online program offline. Use other avenues such as newsletters, executive emails and manager meetings to share what’s happening on the platform – whether that’s kudos for a new client win, reminders that quarter goals are due or sharing which departments have requested the most feedback.

4. Create an “on the spot” agenda item in leadership meetings to review each department’s usage stats and talk through any anomalies. This ensures that issues don’t go unresolved for too long – and helps executives identify the program champions.

5. Integrate, integrate, integrate. The easier the program is for employees to participate, the better. Systems like Kazoo can integrate with tools like Outlook, SharePoint, Yammer – wherever employees spend the most time communicating and collaborating.

6. Create a live feed of employee recognitions through the use of in-office monitors. Put them up in the kitchen and other places employees hang out TVs in the office, to further promote and reinforce the use of the system.

7. Put new badges and rewards up for an employee vote. Not only will it engage teams to choose their favorites, but it will create a sense of ownership and increase the chances of them awarding each other the badge or trying to earn the reward.

8. Challenge employees to request a new type of check-in with their manager. It can be difficult to move outside their comfort zone but interacting in a new way – whether it’s around goals, career development or feedback on a completed project – could re-energize employees and lead to more continued conversations.

keep employees engaged

9. Award individuals, teams, departments or even entire business units for reaching milestones in the system. The first employee to set and reach their quarterly goals could earn lunch with the CEO, or the department that is most active in giving out recognitions could earn a half day of vacation.

10. Conduct regular training or even monthly refresher sessions to create an ongoing opportunity for employees to ask questions and learn more about the system or program in general.

11. Find ways to share positive examples of usage. Examples could include an employee newsletter feature on an individual who earned a promotion after having frequent coaching sessions with their manager on improving their weaknesses or hosting a company-wide lunch to celebrate recent milestones in the system.

12. Give employees ways to invest in the system. Asking for their feedback on processes or how often they’re expected to set goals will get them more involved behind the scenes. If they feel a part of the decision-making process on a deeper level, they’ll be more committed to using it.

13. Relate the tool to everyday activities happening in the office. Having a company meeting? Run a pulse survey in the system about how the meeting went. Having an off-site field day? Give winners a special field day badge. Having a chili cookoff? Announce the winner in the system. Get into the habit of making the program a part of every facet of the business.

14. Assign days where employees who are recognized are required to “pass it on” by then sending a badge to someone else. This gets employees excited to see who’s next and keeps the activity high.

15. Encourage employees to access the system in new ways. This reinforces that employees can send badges, request feedback or update their goals via their desktop, their mobile phone or directly in other communication or collaboration tools.

16. Hold coffee/happy hour sessions with an in-office kiosk, desk or booth to promote new materials or act as a listening hour to hear feedback on processes both in the tool and outside of the tool. People love free drinks!

17. Start a Tips of the Week column on the company intranet or distributed via email. This will share tips and tricks for using the tool, promote new features and functionality or even link out to articles and research that talk about the employee benefits of requesting feedback or setting goals.

keep employees engaged


In today’s highly competitive business environment, a company’s employees are its most powerful asset. But plagued by a talent shortage that stretches across nearly all industries, HR leaders have been tasked with revamping retention strategies for the modern workforce.

To do this, many companies have placed a high priority on improving the employee experience. Traditional practices around performance management, employee development and recognition and rewards have proven to be ineffective at driving retention, but it’s not as simple as replacing them with something new. One misstep can create uncertainty and instability and have a damaging effect on the organizational culture – the very thing that they are meant to improve.

Change Management

For this reason, the implementation process of new HR technology is just as important as the new system or tool itself. While there’s no magic handbook that can guarantee a successful implementation, McKinsey reports that when people are truly invested in change, an implementation is 30% more likely to succeed. So, how can HR leaders create buy-in and adoption? By zeroing in on their change management process.

For our own new client implementations, we have found that there are three critical pieces to change management: communication, marketing and training.

1. Communication

What’s more frightening than the unknown? Having a strong communication plan in place – and adhering to it every step of the way – helps make change less scary. Employees tend to multi-task the day away, so even if you catch them in the office, you still can’t guarantee you’ll be heard. Here’s a handful of ways that Kazoo clients have communicated the HR process change to employees.

      1. Company-wide email from CEO or other top leadership

      2. Announcement on company Intranet

      3. In-person or virtual town hall meeting

      4. Company-sponsored happy hour

      5. Letter to managers from the CEO

2. Marketing

Once a change is communicated, it’s time to get employees excited. Involving employees in the implementation helps them feel like important stakeholders and minimizes any negative chatter that can be unproductive and detrimental to the process. Some examples of ways that clients have used marketing to create buy-in include:

      1. Giving the program a name/logo that’s in line with the culture

      2. Putting the program branding to an employee vote

      3. Allowing employees create/vote on other decisions (badge images, names, etc.)

      4. Distributing tchotchkes and other giveaways to establish brand recognition

      5. Hanging posters and other signage to reinforce program excitement

3. Training

No matter how much buzz there is around a new process or system, the best way to fast-track adoption is to ensure employees feel comfortable and confident using it. Training should take into consideration all of the different ways that we learn. Here’s a few ways that clients have helped get employees up to speed on Kazoo.

      1. Company-wide webinar, available live and on-demand (for new hires down the road)

      2. In-person training conducted by department or location

      3. HR-led training that feels custom to the company, not generic, vendor-led sessions

      4. Beta-testing to train employees and gain early adopters/enthusiasts

      5. Ongoing sessions to ensure continued adoption

While these tactics have worked for many Kazoo clients, each change management strategy is like each of our clients – unique. A company’s culture, leadership style and engagement level should dictate how a new tool should be implemented. Staying true to your own organizational culture is the only universal advice.

Change Management