Written by Kate Scott | 23rd September 2021

In our recent snapshot survey of employers, we asked businesses if they were planning to take on new staff over the next 12 months, and 78% said yes. It’s no surprise that a recruitment boom is expected this year as many businesses seek to rebuild and strengthen following the pandemic.

But getting employees through the door is proving challenging for some – and with job seekers’ wants and expectations changing, employers must look at new ways to attract and retain staff.

When candidates have options to choose from, a good company culture can be a crucial deciding factor in their decision-making process. Here are four ways culture plays an important role in the recruitment process.

Culture attracts talent

Company culture can be make or break for candidates when deciding to accept a job offer or even apply for a role as 57% percent of UK employees value this over salary, according to Glassdoor,

A positive company culture is attractive to potential candidates and can help persuade them to choose you over another employer. It can also improve retention as employees who feel part of your culture and aligned with its values are more likely to want to stay.

Without attending an interview, candidates can get a sense of what it’s like to work for you from the job ad, your website, social media and even speaking to your employees.

New recruits will be looking for ways they can add value and have a purpose in an organisation, so you’ll want to communicate how the company will value their ideas. In the job description, you could describe by what means their actions will help in achieving the company’s goals.

Career progression and personal development is also hugely important for both potential and existing employees. If you foster a culture of development, discuss with your employees in their regular one to one discussions and appraisal meetings.

Job seekers will be looking for a trusting relationship between manager and employee. Giving the freedom for employees to fit work around the rest of their lives, shows a culture of autonomy and flexibility which then can have a positive impact on engagement and retention.

If social responsibility is a large part of your culture, don’t be shy about it! Publicise your company’s credentials and activities on social media and your website.

Communicating culture to employees

Different candidates work well in different environments, so it’s important to convey what your workplace is like early in the recruitment process. If your offices are relaxed and friendly, describe that in your job ads. You may also want to include team size, office layout and ways of working. These all help people gauge whether they’d work well in your business.

Potential employees often want to hear from the existing workforce on what it’s like to work for your company, with many candidates now checking employer review sites such as Indeed before they apply for a job.

If you are involved in onboarding, this is one of the main ways that new employees will learn about your culture, and hiring a good cultural fit is one part of building and maintaining your company culture.

Regular 1-to-1 conversations for existing team members provide a fantastic opportunity for two-way communication between line manager and employees, building relationships and trust. It’s also an opportunity to ensure they understand company values and for you to get feedback on how the company culture could be developed.

If workers don’t have good lines of communication with each other and management, and don’t feel like they’re being heard, they may not be as committed or loyal to the company. An open culture can’t exist if there is lack of trust between employees and managers.

New hires can shape culture

It’s clear that culture plays a critical role in the hiring decision of most organisations.

A good recruitment policy run by trained managers or outsourced specialists helps ensure that successful candidates are a good cultural fit for your organisation. This can make the difference between a successful recruitment process and one which stores up problems for the future.

“Cultural fit” is essentially whether someone fits into your set of business values and particular working environment. However, it’s not always about being a ‘cultural fit’, as new staff can also help develop and enhance culture.

People are now talking about hiring for “cultural add”. What can a candidate bring to the table that will add to your culture and help it move in the right direction?

To do this you need to first understand and define your culture and then find out what areas you are lacking in. Employees who bring in a fresh perspective and desire to learn something new could help drive a positive change in your business.

New expectations

Does your culture need to change to attract and retain staff whose mindsets have changed?

As a result of the pandemic and the mass period of home working, potential candidates and even your existing employees will have new expectations, such as being able to work from home, choosing their hours, training and more support and empathy from managers.

Candidates may be searching for something new that offers them what they see as most important – this might mean putting more focus on work and life balance, flexible working and less on competitive salaries and on-site benefits.

It’s a good idea to make clear how and where people are expected to work in your job advert and job specification to show that your business values this.

Culture of flexibility – from day one

In line with changing employee expectations, the government are currently working on proposals for a day one right to request flexible working.

This report from BBC says that employees could have the right to request flexible working from the moment they start a job, with employers forced to explain their reasons if it is then refused. The plan would also force employers to respond to these requests more quickly. However, it’s important to remember this is a right to request flexible working from day one – not a right to actually have it.

Whether the proposed legislative changes come into effect or not, businesses will benefit from putting more focus on flexibility from day one, as this will enable them to attract candidates from a much wider pool of talent and support the retention of their existing talent.

Since the start of the pandemic, employees have been leaving the workforce or switching jobs in their droves, and much of this is down to the employer. The ‘great resignation’ as it’s called is forcing many companies to look at how flexible they are so they can attract candidates and remain competitive. It’s clear that employees are now looking for flexibility as standard, so having to actually request it and follow a drawn out process for a response could put talented applicants off a role.

Before you begin your search for candidates, think about using your job ads to show your flexible working approach, for example job location and working hours. You should also be open and transparent about the possibility of flexible working during the interview process – if a role can’t be done form home or in part-time hours explain why. This will help avoid sudden flexible working requests on an employee’s first day.


Of the 78% of businesses that told us they plan to recruit in the next 12 months, the majority said they would look to take on two or more people. It’s vital for businesses to avoid ‘distress hires’ or settling for second best because of the challenges they are facing.

If in doubt, seek HR advice before starting recruitment to help create the right conditions for success.

We offer a full range of recruitment services from full service handling of the hiring process, drafting job advertisements, screening CVs, interviews and more. For more information see our recruitment page or get in touch with our team.