Culture: The Foundation of a Great STEM Employment Experience

Culture has become a huge buzzword when it comes to employer branding, and for good reason. Study after study has shown that a company’s culture plays an increasingly central role in driving recruitment, increasing engagement, and decreasing turnover. This is particularly true for companies looking to attract and retain STEM talent. To them, a great workplace culture and employment experience is not just a priority, it is a given.1 As a result, smart companies are adopting strategies that cultivate a culture that attracts STEM talent, including:

Hire and Nurture

Ensuring a good culture fit when hiring is nothing new. So it makes sense that one predictor of a new hire’s success is how well they will fit in with the team they are joining. While a potential hire’s STEM skill sets, credentials, and experience are important, it is equally crucial to determine if they will be compatible with their colleagues. Build in opportunities for candidates to interact with the team during the interview process and pay close attention to everyone’s feedback regarding the experience. Was the team enthusiastic about the candidate? Did meeting the team make the candidate more excited about joining the company? Ensuring things are simpatico among current employees is also vital for engagement, retention, and high-level performance.2 Nurturing new STEM talent also plays an important role in reducing turnover. Recognizing this, companies are taking the time to show each individual employee how they fit into the bigger picture and mapping out the career development opportunities that will help them evolve in step with the company.3

Build Trust through Engagement

According to a Great Places to Work study, STEM employees have a strong work ethic and are innately conscientious employees.4 However, they are also often introverted and tend to be intensely focused on their work. To balance the risk of isolation that can come with this degree of focus, companies are making conscious efforts to build interactions and team building activities into the employment experience. More than annual summer picnics, teams are encouraged to attend learning or growth activities such as conventions, immersive educational tours, and even on-site events that feature expert speakers or a curated activity. Trust also means fostering a flatter organization, if not in title, then at least in accessibility. Gone are the days when CEO interactions rival that of celebrity sightings. Good leaders know the value of personally engaging with employees.

Create Meaning

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is non-negotiable when it comes to the STEM employment experience – and it’s all good. As initiatives go, CSR often yields excellent ROI. Companies who have CSR initiatives have improved retention, thanks to employees who feel great about being part of an organization that cares enough to make a positive difference. In addition, CSR programs don’t just look great on social media, they get instant buy-in from stockholders, the community, customers, and STEM talent. Research found that nearly three-fourths of millennial job seekers list meaningful work – either with or through philanthropism – as one of the three most important things they look for in prospective employers, and just under a third consider it the most important.5

While there is no magic bullet when it comes to creating a great employment experience for STEM talent, the steps outlined here are a good start. By making sure you are choosing talent that fits your culture, investing in their career development, gaining their trust, and working toward a better world, you are doing what you can to make sure your organization is STEM-friendly now and in the future. If you have any questions regarding engaging STEM talent, AllSTEM is here to help.

  1. The Science of Happiness: Improve employee retention in your company (whitepaper download), Workhuman (2019) https://whc.workhuman.com/PPC_Science-of-Happiness.html?gclid=Cj0KCQiApaXxBRDNARIsAGFdaB8MCcK_d-iDg2TqIweCp3R-BVwoF0MLIb_rq_q0ZIS17SP_C__FuncaAq_gEALw_wcB
  2. Being Happy at Work Matters, Annie McKee (11/14/14) https://hbr.org/2014/11/being-happy-at-work-matters
  3. 20 Things That Prevent Transparency in the Workplace and How to Fix Them, workfront.com (2/19/19) https://www.workfront.com/blog/transparency-in-the-workplace
  4. Building Trust in a STEM Environment, Ann Camden (4/30/15) https://www.gscommunications.com/building-trust-in-a-stem-environment/
  5. How to find meaningful work in tech: 10 companies to consider, Suelyn Yu (2/14/17) https://medium.com/@suelynyu/https-medium-com-suelynyu-how-to-find-meaningful-work-in-tech-96f8e7b9cc4a

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