Corporate Cultures

Cultural Twig-bending

by Ray Knight and Rob Sanders

Think of how many ways your company has to involve a new employee in your corporate culture before he or she actually starts to work.  What’s your guess?  Six?  A dozen?  Two dozen?

It’s likely the number you guessed is under twenty.  It’s equally likely that your company is missing some or all of these opportunities to get new hires off to the right start in your culture.  Though most casino operations now have at least some activities aimed at cultural development, relatively few reap the benefit of the most productive culture-building opportunities – one that is fleeting in time but lasting in impact.

The actual number varies greatly from company to company, but a typical casino operation
has literally hundreds of “touch” points in the process of acquiring new employees.  Each of these
connections is a priceless opportunity.  Each is a chance to begin planting the seed of your vision,
communicating your goals and aspirations, infusing the prospective employee with the behavior
you desire for your culture.  If you capitalize on all of them, a new employee will come into your
organizational firmly pointed in the right direction from Day One.  This is most especially
important in the case of brand new casino openings.

There isn’t space here to list all of these touch points, and it would be boring reading even if
there was space.  However, there’s nothing boring about the positive impact you can achieve if you
use them to your advantage. To tickle your imagination, let’s explore some of the possibilities and
how can you make them work for your cultural development.

Job fairs can be more than just a platform to tell prospective employees about your benefits
package.  Build into them a theme that conveys what kind of company you run.  Include
presentations that give jobseekers a sense of the personality of your company as well as the hard
facts.  Make certain that the tone and language of presentations, along with the decor and other
amenities are strategically positioned to deliver a clear message of what kind of person is likely to
do well in your company.  This applies to other events, too, like community meetings and speeches
by company officials.

Do you have a jobs hotline?  What kind of impression does it convey to callers?  Plan and
craft telephone contacts with employee prospects as carefully as you would those with an investor. 
After all, you’re asking them to invest a major portion of their waking lives to your enterprise. 
Their experience on the phone with your company speaks huge volumes to them about what your
company is like.  Do they talk to a human or a machine?  Are the first words they hear respectful
and reassuring?  Do they get put on hold?  How long?  What do they hear while they wait?

The environment a jobseeker encounters along the route to becoming a new hire establishes
a first impression.  Is the room where they fill out an application shabby, noisy, cramped?  Or is it
spacious, businesslike, pleasant?  Use the decor at your recruiting center, job fairs, interview rooms,
and skills and drug testing sites to frame a positive culture message.  Decorate the walls with
posters that communicate the theme of your vision.  Include take-me displays of brochures and
handouts that talk about your vision and your culture.  Pay attention to colors, cleanliness, noise
levels, and especially the behavior of your interviewers and hosts.

The media you use to communicate job opportunities and requirements should reflect the
culture of your organization as well as the factual necessities.  Your application forms, website,
signage, recruiting brochures and videos, advertising – in fact, everywhere you speak to the public –
should reinforce your cultural stance and expectations.  This serves a dual role of pre-conditioning
new employees and influencing those whose outlook may not be compatible to self-select out of the
hiring process.

Once you’ve hired an employee, there are many, many more touch points to reinforce your
cultural communication.  The notification of hiring is an important milestone.  It should send a
positive message.  The employee orientation and all the new hire materials like handbooks should
confirm the employee’s belief that he or she is one of the luckiest people in town to have this job. 
The hard realities of working in a casino – any casino – will soon enough knock some of the shine
of their spirit; but the brighter it is to start with, the better the spirit  will stand up to reality.

The hiring process is your once-in-a-relationship opportunity to bend the twig the way you
want the tree to grow.  It’s far easier to set it straight from the root instead of trying to unbend it later.

(This article appeared in the August 1999 issue.)