Organisational Culture: Attracting Job Applicants by Advertising the “Softer Side”

As top talent becomes sparse but human capital continues to be a chief competitive advantage, the ability to recruit highly skilled applicants is paramount. Additionally, modern organisations have the added hurdle of attracting job applicants that also fit well with the values of the organisation. Organisational culture is typically described as the collective set of values and norms shared by members of an organisation. Recently, researchers have started to categorise organisational cultures as either being “supportive” or “competitive” in nature. Supportive cultures value collaboration, equality, supportiveness, and work-life balance, whereas organisations with a competitive culture typically value individualism, ambition, rewards, and a focus on one’s career. 


In a recent study*, Catanzaro, Moore, and Marshall (2010) examined how beliefs about the organisation’s culture impacts male and female applicants’ job pursuit, organisational preference, and organisational choice. They found that both men and women would rather pursue a job with a supportive organisation, even if that meant accepting less compensation. However, when presented with a job in a competitive organisational culture, men are more likely than women to pursue the job.


Participants indicated that they would rather work for the supportive organisation because it allows for more work-life balance and appears more concerned for its employees.


This finding provides leverage for organisations hoping to attract top talent that lack the financial resources to contend with competitors. Organisations hoping to attract more eligible applicants might actually consider advertising and emphasising more “supportive” cultural values (e.g., flexibility, teamwork, and work-family balance) instead of just the “competitive” values (e.g., high financial rewards, rapid advancement). 


* Catanzaro, D., Moore, H., & Marshall, T.R. (2010). The impact of organizational culture on attraction and recruitment of job applicants. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25 (4), 649-662.