In the age of social media and employer review sites, companies can’t hide their cultures. Anyone with an internet connection can get a firsthand look from the people who know it best — your employees. If your culture is healthy, you benefit from positive sharing by employees. If it’s not, negative reviews hurt your talent attraction and retention efforts.

Earning the loyalty and advocacy of your employees can’t be gamed. You have to deliver the engaging experience that employees crave. Your ability to do that depends largely on the culture you create and nurture.

A healthy company culture is not just about recruiting and retention. It’s a major contributor to growth. Organisations on the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” list have financially outperformed their industry peers since the late ’90s, earning nearly three times more stock market returns than the Russell 3000 and Russell 1000 Indexes.

At Salesforce, we’re fortunate that our leaders and employees feel a deep sense of responsibility to protect and champion our culture. That said, the Employee Success team at Salesforce is also working very intentionally to nurture our culture, using five key steps.



Step 1: Define and communicate your culture story


Get started by defining and communicating your culture story so everyone can align on it and use it to guide their actions. There are a number of data sources you can use to define (or evolve) the full story of who you are, what you value, and how you work together, including:

  • Common phrases people use to describe your culture in reviews

  • Answers to questions about your culture on your employee survey

  • Focus groups with your leaders and culture champions at all levels

Once your story is defined, you’re ready to bring it to life across the full employee journey, starting with hiring.



Step 2: Hire people aligned with your culture


Hiring for cultural alignment comes down to enabling both sides to make an informed decision. Encourage employees to share their honest experiences on review sites and with their social networks using a culture hashtag — ours is #SalesforceOhana. During the interview process, invite candidates to read reviews and search your hashtag on social media to gain insight into what it’s really like to work at your company. This transparency helps candidates understand your culture, so they can opt in or opt out of your interview process.

Next, train your hiring managers on how to talk authentically about your culture, as well as the business value of building diverse teams.

Ultimately, you want to make sure you hire people who are aligned on your values, while also looking for individuals that bring something special that adds to your culture.



Step 3: Help new hires adopt your culture


If you want new hires to adopt your culture, you need to go way beyond a one-day new hire orientation. We’re talking full immersion here.

At Salesforce, this starts with an email journey that flows from when an offer is signed, through the entire first year and is packed with useful info and tips to help a new hire feel like part of the team fast. Dripping this info out instead of cramming it all in to the first-day program frees up time for us to include a culture storyteller and a volunteering experience with the usual paperwork and equipment distribution.

And it doesn’t stop there. Within the first two months, new hires also attend a full-day culture-immersion experience with executive engagement and interactive exercises that go deep into our values.

Your onboarding goals need to include making sure new hires understand how to thrive in your culture, and their responsibility to protect and champion it.

In addition to adopting your culture and ways of working, you can accelerate time to productivity by making sure new hires have a centralised hub where they can access their apps and find people, information, and files to actually get their work done. See how you can “Transform Your Intranet into an Engaging Employee Experience with Salesforce.”



Step 4: Live your culture – inside and out.


Employees stay and give their best when they feel connected to the culture. That connection comes from consistently and constantly communicating your culture in all your internal messaging and from empowering employees with ways to live your values. Here are three examples of how we do this at Salesforce:

  • Transparency: Our V2MOM process ensures that all employees have full transparency into where we are going, the plan to get there, and their role in it.

  • Giving Back: Our employees get seven days of paid time off to volunteer in their communities.

  • Well-Being: We dedicate spaces in our buildings for meditation.

While employees are living our values, they are often sharing their experiences with their friends, contributing to our number one source of hire — employee referrals. And, when they share and friends react positively, there is an employee pride bounce that helps us retain our talent, too.



Step 5: Measure results and evolve.


Culture work needs to be an ongoing cycle of implementing ideas, measuring results, and evolving to meet new goals. Analyse questions that gauge the health of your culture on employee surveys and employee reviews to inform your efforts. The best ideas on how to improve will come directly from employees. So communicate your findings openly, listen to your people, and be willing to evolve.

By creating a strong culture, you’re increasing your ability to deliver an engaging employee experience. And studies show that employees will return the effort by delivering better experiences for your customers and more success for your company.

This is the second in a series of five blog posts that look at how Salesforce engages employees and how you can, too. Read the first post here. We hope you’ll join us as we share useful insights and actionable ideas on how we have been able to grow the company rapidly while remaining one ofFortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” nine years running.

In the meantime, please check out the on-demand webinar to see how Salesforce's CIO partnered with HR to transform the employee experience.