In case it slipped by you, there was a critical culture shift in 2020 when the concept of employee engagement was replaced by “employee experience.” This is not semantics. It’s a new perspective on how employees should be treated in the workplace. It requires that employers create the same positive experience inside our companies that we have always provided on the customer level. I call this a “Camelot” culture, where leaders put their people first and “dare to care” about their employees on a holistic level. Creating a Camelot experience begins with candidates comparing how you treat them versus the competition and extends throughout the lifecycle of every employee—including how positive they feel when they leave your employ.
The job market is hot and highly competitive, and it’s expected to stay that way into the foreseeable future. In order to attract and retain top talent, you need to meet the expectations employees have today—many of which may be new to you if you’re stuck in the practices of the past. It’s time to throw away “command and control,” offer individual choice and flexibility, and build equality and inclusiveness into your culture. The closer you come to Camelot, the better chance you have of winning and keeping the people you want in your company.
What does a Camelot culture look like?
Camelot cultures are led by people-centered leaders who share a number of important attributes. They connect deeply with their people and develop respectful relationships by telling the truth; showing competence and accountability; building trust through empowerment; listening deeply; encouraging innovation; and refraining from judgment while still being decisive.
They feel genuine empathy, passion, and concern for the wellbeing of their people before anything else. They regularly recognize effort and show people that they matter and that their thoughts, opinions, and contributions are valued. These are the things that create the positive and inspiring employee experience that people are looking for and that allow them to perform at their best.
People-centered leaders understand that the employee experience is an ongoing, all-hands-on-deck process designed to bring love, wellbeing, inclusivity, and shared purpose into the workplace. Camelot cultures are positive environments where people find dignity in the work they do, and the work is as meaningful as the relationships people develop with leadership and coworkers. Yes, Camelot is an ideal, and one we can aspire to achieve by creating Camelot moments that add up to a culture that comes very close—close enough to recruit and retain high-performing people with the right culture fit.
Give that Camelot Feeling to Candidates
You can list all of the factors that make up your Camelot culture, but that’s not enough. Candidates need to feel what it’s like to work for you, and feeling is best explained through story. Explain why you are in the business you are in, what your purpose is, and what Camelot means to you. Candidates want to know in your own words. Tell an authentic, passionate story that reveals something about you as a human being and as a leader. And then listen. People are generally terrible at interviewing. Be delightfully different by making your interviews two-way conversations that are told in stories.
Communicate frequently throughout the recruitment process. Show respect by keeping candidates informed about the process and when to expect decisions. And be aware that in our current, hot market, decision-making speed is critical. Candidates won’t wait days for you to follow up—and neither will employees. Continue to treat people in the same respectful way after you’ve successfully convinced the right candidate to become an employee.
We are reimagining our workplaces just as many families have become used to living a new kind of life, one that makes them more connected. Work and home are no longer separate entities, but a holistic blend of both aspects of our lives. Leaders must recognize and embrace these new realities because their candidates and employees already have.