Ryan Carroll: Why culture eats your strategy for breakfast?

Ryan Carroll: Why culture eats your strategy for breakfast?
By Ryan Carroll, Country Director, Randstad Malaysia

With the substantial number of millennials entering the workforce today, corporate culture in organisations is more important than ever. Company culture was never insignificant, but it’s quickly proving to be a “must-have” rather than a “nice-to-have”. I truly believe that a winning strategy must include not only a clear and relevant employee value proposition but also the systems, people and prioritisation with which deliver to it. Defining your EVP can be hard, and more so now than ever before with the multi generational workforce we have today. I want to use this Blue Suite to talk about why culture should be an important part of the company strategy whilst sharing an insight into what we at Randstad have been working on.  

Millennials are a key target for talent in this multigenerational workforce and as such employers and organisations need to ensure that their employee value proposition (EVP) caters for this. Understanding what motivates and inspires an employee is the linchpin to sustaining their engagement. Organisations that have an EVP that caters to this will certainly have a better chance when it comes to retaining their talent.

Our 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research revealed that 39% of employees in Malaysia have a strong preference to work for large multinational corporations (MNCs). Randstad’s Q1 Workmonitor report also divulged that millennials in Malaysia in particular exhibited a strong preference for MNCs highlighting that on the average 87% of Millennials in Malaysia would like to work for MNCs, compared to 74% who like SMEs and 65% who liked startups. A primary cause that could be driving this trend could be because most of the big players in the job market already have a well-established, well defined cultural identity.  

Millennials have been nurtured in a different setting than the preceding generations. Paths may differ between generations but intentions are not; we’re all looking to accomplish the same things at work. With millennials making up more than half of the workforce today, companies need to come up with an EVP to ensure great talents stay in their company longer as we see shifting priorities in the workforce. Sure, a winning culture needs to include a good remuneration package, great career development and employee engagement programs, a majority of millennial employees these days are also looking for financial stability as well as a place to grow and gain new skills on their job.

From an employer’s point of view, one of the major challenges is creating an effective EVP to retain all kinds of talents within the organisation despite having an astral reputation in the job market. With more organisations progressively looking to embark on their employer branding journey, here are some of the factors to be taken into consideration in creating a stellar employer brand.

work-life balance

Work life balance has been an essential criteria for many of the millennials at Randstad so we have been moving towards shaping a rhythm and structure which foster this. As a result of this pattern, productivity is achieved within fewer hours. The millennial generation is also accustomed to various communication tools outside of the standard email and telephone. Rather than getting frustrated about the number of people absorbed in their devices, we have been working on ways to incorporate and quality control these new communication tools within our organisation.

sense of purpose

We also need to bear in mind that purpose is important for millennials. They often ask themselves “am I still learning?” or “why am I doing this?” The better the organisation understands the need to promote great culture and EVP, the better their chances are at creating loyalty and retaining talent within their organisation. The vision for an organisation should compel people to do their best but also instil pride. Whatever an organisation’s vision, the battle many face is ensuring it is remembered and acted on. I encourage employers to test this - polls, surveys and competitions can provide a fun way to then measure the uptake - the key is not to give up hope if initial results are low! Most CEO’s see their role transforming to ‘Chief Story-Teller’ - I really don’t believe there is such a thing as over communicating your company's vision and strategy.  

learning, development & employee engagement

At Randstad we have a relatively diverse EVP which allows us to pivot around the individual needs and wants of each employee. Our interview process starts by identifying a potential employee’s preferences and motivations from which we are able to efficiently tailor their experience as an employee to some extent. We have both leadership team and subject matter expert career paths, we boast a professional work environment but also had the luxury to be able to build a full-scale Café area with equipments such as a ping pong table for those looking to breathe easy and recharge. The reality is that organisation’s need to be able to point and exhibit how an organisation brings their EVP to life where possible. It makes a much stronger impact when I can communicate to a potential new employee about our commitment to learning and development and then walk them to the Training Centre - a space dedicated to L&D.

great working environment

Aside from this, a great corporate culture in an organisation more often than not cultivates productivity. ‘Engagement’ at work — which is correlated with feeling valued, secure, supported, and respected is commonly negatively associated with a stressful, cut-throat culture. Employees who feel like they’re valued and supported tend to work harder than those who do not feel appreciated for what they do in an organisation. A great working environment is much more than a nice office, it’s about a friendly team, collaborative office divisions and supportive management.

professional development

Like flexibility, professional development is also highly important to millennials when selecting an employer. This means that organisations should think about the potential for advancement within the company and also how job opportunities are presented to prospective employees. Training programs, conferences and  informal learning opportunities are some of the things employees yearn for in an organisation. Where possible, each role should have the clear set of competencies needed and a road map to get there. At Randstad, have spent a great deal of time mapping out what is needed to move up to the next position. The leadership team have discovered that this has been time well invested as it has provided structure and clarity to reviews and promotion conversations.

social responsibility & reputation

Another key factor that should be taken into consideration when creating a winning corporate culture is how much employees care about its reputation as a company. This reputation encompasses employer brand as well as the company’s social responsibility efforts, such as corporate giving, volunteerism and sustainability. What an organisation does and portrays to jobseekers needs to align with what employees believe in.
We at Randstad Malaysia believe in the tagline that  “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and have come up with certain practices to ensure our employees are happy, satisfied and feel compelled to help deliver the company strategy - and not because they have to. We make sure our employees’ voices are heard and as much as possible come up with a collective solution when a challenge arises. We host several polls and surveys to measure engagement and future investment into new concepts. No matter what strategy a company may pull off, if the corporate culture is not on par with strategy, then the execution of the strategy will be an uphill battle.


For a more thorough look at employer branding, request for a copy of our recent Randstad Employer Brand Research 2017 white paper.

Please click here to download a PDF copy of the article. If finding exceptional talent to drive success is a key challenge for your business, register a vacancy with us and we will be happy to help.

Randstad Blue Suite
The Randstad Blue Suite is a collection of personal insights from the Randstad leadership team.
Posted: Friday, 12 May 2017 - 1:00 PM