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How Community Building Shapes the Launchways Experience

One of Launchways’ core values is to be a Community-Builder. Our team is community-minded and constantly looking for new opportunities to foster a richer community within Launchways and in the Chicago ecosystem. This common vision of bridge-building helps us form stronger bonds with our coworkers and more productive partnerships with other businesses in the greater Chicago area.

We approach our role as community-builder in two fundamental ways:

  • Fostering the Launchways community
  • Building a community outside our office walls

Fostering Community at Launchways

Why We Believe in Building a Launchways Community

In our mission to help our clients build thriving teams of top talent, we often address the topic of how to create a vibrant, engaging company culture. But within our organization, we believe in taking it a step further and creating not just a culture but a community.

Companies have a culture, whether they take steps to shape it or not. Letting it lie fallow can cause that culture to become toxic, and tending to it can help engage team members and make work more meaningful. A company community cannot exist without consistent and dedicated work by company leadership and every single team member. The risk of not putting in this work is not a toxic community, but the lack of any sense community at all. People will still come into the office, log their hours, and go home. But they won’t care about their cubicle-mates or see their work as helping themselves, their coworkers, and their company succeed. Simply put, they’re employees, not team members.

For that to happen, companies have to foster a community in which everyone is invested in helping everyone else grow, succeed, and pursue what matters most to them.

How We Foster Community at Launchways

We know that as an employer, you need to create organizational structures that will become the foundations of an organic and employee-owned community. So, we have implemented several systems at Launchways that help fuel our community and allow it to take on a life of its own. Each step seems simple and inconsequential on the surface but, added together, they completely transform how we interact with and think about each other as teammates.

Meetings are the main formalized touch-points that employees have with each other and with the company as a whole, so we have focused our efforts on creating community-minded meetings. We start each week with an all-hands-on-deck meeting where each team member discusses their number-one project for the week and any roadblocks they need help on. These meetings allow us to see what everyone is working on, celebrate their accomplishments, and seize opportunities to help each other whenever possible.

Another large part of a community is having a sense of working together for a common goal that everyone shares. As we advise our clients, we have integrated our values, mission, and vision into every policy and process in our organization so our team members can become their stewards. But we also hold quarterly all-company meetings to review our goals and progress towards those goals together as a company. These meetings drive home the reality that we are all working together to accomplish the same goals.

Beyond meetings, “shout-outs” are a core part of the Launchways community. Front-and-center in our office is our “Shout-Out Board” where we can recognize our coworkers on a daily basis for doing an awesome job and representing our core values. We also share highlights from the Shout-Out Board at our Monday all-hands-on-deck meetings so that we can celebrate each other’s accomplishments together. You would be surprised at how much a whiteboard builds a supportive and engaged community.

Stepping Outside Launchways: Fostering the Chicago Business Community

Launchways is constantly forming new partnerships with businesses and organizations in the broader Chicago ecosystem so that we can engage business leaders in a strong community. Some of our key business partners have included Hyde Park Angels, FinTEx, and the Illinois Technology Association.

Over the past year, we have worked with our business partners and organizations like FinTEx and ITA to host educational events for business and HR leaders in Chicago and the whole of Illinois. Just this October, we brought together five business leaders and HR experts for a panel discussion on tackling key diversity and inclusion challenges at our D&I Summit. We welcomed over 60 HR professionals for a complimentary dinner and open bar, which certainly got folks networking and community building. And the panel delivered an incredibly comprehensive look at D&I strategies for businesses going into the 2020s.

We also worked with our business partners to host a CFO breakfast that brought growth-minded financial leaders from around Chicago together to learn new actionable strategies to take back to their business, especially around the increasing role that CFOs play in their company’s HR strategy. And on the other side of the same conversation, we partnered with ITA to host an “HR Now” summit for HR leaders to help them form stronger collaborations with their finance counterparts.

Beyond hosting events, Launchways also partners with other businesses and vendors to provide additional resources and value for our clients. This isn’t just the right thing to do to help our client community and form the best relationships we can with them, it is also a great way to create a symbiotic community of businesses in related industries, all working together to meet the whole range of companies’ HR and benefits needs.

Key Takeaways

Launchways takes its role as a community-builder very seriously because we know that being part of a genuine community makes work more meaningful and rewarding and that every company has the responsibility to help build and uplift their local business community. This core value impacts just about every aspect of how we work and do business at Launchways. These community-building initiatives contribute significantly to our community-building efforts, including:

  • Leveraging weekly and quarterly meetings as community-building touch-points through open communication and judgment-free discussion of projects, challenges, and successes
  • Publicly celebrating coworker accomplishments on a daily and weekly basis
  • Hosting events for business leaders in our ecosystem
  • Partnering with businesses and vendors to bring our clients the best range of services possible

If working in a community sounds as good to you as it does to us, we would love to welcome you to our team. Check out current openings and get started with your Launchways journey by heading over to our Careers Page!

At Launchways, Employees Bring Their Authentic Selves to Work

At Launchways, we know that what makes us different is what makes us strong and that our team members thrive when they can be and share their full, authentic selves at work. Supporting and encouraging each of our team members as whole people, not just as productive employees, is one of our top priorities and fundamental values. We think it’s not just the right thing to do, but also the best way of creating a positive work environment and a productive team.

So what does living this principle look like at Launchways, and what effects does it have on our work? Here are some of the key points I’ll explore:

  • The reasons behind our approach and how it fuels our creativity
  • Authentic communication between Launchways employees
  • Work styles as unique as our team members

Why We Value the Individual at Launchways

Many companies are talking about diversity and inclusion nowadays and language about inclusion is making its way into more business’ value statements and employee handbooks. But how many employers put these words into action and do everything they can to support each employee and what makes them unique?

At Launchways, we understand the struggles that companies face tackling D&I and building a thriving, productive team. We’ve seen first-hand what works and what doesn’t. We know that divisions and conformity are toxic to a company’s culture and that businesses do better when they make sure that every single employee feels comfortable to be themselves without fear of being judged or penalized. We know that helping your employees succeed is the best way to make your business succeed, and that means supporting their growth and fulfillment in all aspects of their lives and all facets of their individuality.

Now, we know that saying we want all of our employees to feel comfortable and encouraged to be their 100% authentic selves may sound cliché. But living this value every day and in every aspect of our business makes an enormous difference for our team members, our culture, our clients, and our bottom-line. Communication is clear, morale is high, and we all work together to build up ourselves, each other, and Launchways.

From an employer perspective, this approach makes good business sense. Having diverse voices at the table is a surefire way to develop more successful strategies and initiatives. Studies show that greater gender and racial diversity leads to increased profitability and value creation. But to see the business results of your gender, racial, sexual, and culturally diverse team, you have to create a safe space where every employee is free to be and express themselves. When people are comfortable being themselves, they bring their whole selves to work and share their unique perspectives that can result in innovative solutions.

And bringing your whole self to work doesn’t just increase your value as an employee: it also results in a positive workplace and culture that is as vibrant as its members. Who wants to work somewhere that you can’t be yourself? A culture of lived openness invites the human back into business. We can genuinely communicate and build richer, more valuable connections with each other and with our partners and clients. At Launchways, our dedication to openness and authenticity is what makes our jobs so meaningful and makes going into work every day worthwhile and enjoyable.

How Launchways Encourages Employees to Share Their Authentic Selves

Simply put: just saying that you value something won’t make it a reality at your business. That is why at Launchways, we have taken concrete steps to shape our practices and policies around the value of making our employees feel comfortable sharing their authentic selves.

Authentic Communication

Communication is the key to encouraging our team members to share their authentic selves at work. After all, communication is how we express ourselves and our perspectives and if an employer does not support open and individualized communication, they won’t be able to foster a truly inclusive workplace.

At Launchways, we go out of our way to acknowledge and encourage different communication styles. Our team members value intent rather than presentation, which prevents plenty of common office misunderstanding and interpersonal drama. If someone tells it like it is, we acknowledge and support that without taking it as a personal attack. And if someone has a hard time voicing their opinions, we recognize that as well and try to amplify their voice and pick up on the messages they are sending. Now, there are still standards regarding acceptable and unacceptable behavior, but we work hard to acknowledge a wide range of communication styles.

This philosophy goes hand-in-hand with another of our core values, being thoughtfully candid. We don’t just believe in personalized communication, we also support open and honest communication and feedback: being candid. But we also stand for keeping the humanity and feelings of our coworkers in mind, being thoughtfully honest rather than brutally honest and always speaking from a place of trust.

It’s just as important to us that our team members are comfortable sharing their needs and struggles. We want to know the difficulties that our employees are facing and make every reasonable accommodation possible. We understand that our team members will be more productive if they are comfortable speaking up when they need help personally or professionally. We don’t want people blustering and covering up the fact that they are having difficulty on a project: we want them to step up and get the resources they need to get the job done. So we always encourage our team members to be comfortable telling their managers when they are going through a tough time, having a family emergency, or need additional help/support in the office or outside of it.

Work Styles as Unique as Our Team Members

At Launchways, we have implemented two main principles regarding our work that help our team members thrive as their authentic selves.

The first is that we get to work how we feel most productive. We have an enormous amount of flexibility regarding when, where, and how we work. While it’s important to have face-to-face interactions and meetings, we have flexibility determining our daily work hours so long as we’re getting the job done. And we can work from home when necessary: whether it’s because our kids are sick or because we just need to take a break from the office chatter to be our most productive selves.

The second principle is that we get to work on what most interests us. Launchways provides our team members the opportunity to pursue interests and passions. That means that if any of us has an idea for a project or initiative that we care about and think will contribute to the Launchways mission, we get the space and resources we need to make it a reality. You’d be surprised how many game-changing strategies develop when all team members are free to exercise their creativity.

Key Takeaways

At Launchways, our workplace environment, culture, and communication styles are all designed to allow us to share 100% of our true, authentic selves. This freedom has an impactful ripple-effect throughout all aspects of life and work at Launchways and makes us a better, more successful company. As we’ve explored, for us, the dedication to supporting employees’ whole selves means:

  • Our team members can grow and succeed as individuals, which helps our team and company succeed in turn
  • Employees share their unique perspectives, generating diverse conversations and innovative solutions
  • Everyone can communicate in their own way without causing misunderstandings
  • We can be open about our challenges and get the support we need
  • We work how we want, on what we’re passionate about

We think that our way of doing things is pretty great. We go into work every day to collaborate with our friends and fellow humans, forging deeper connections and producing unique solutions that we get to own as ours.

If you’re interested in joining the Launchways team, view our current openings here.

How to Build a Strong Employer Brand Without Spending a Dime

How to Build a Strong Employer Brand Without Spending a Dime

With the unemployment rate at 4%, we’re experiencing a candidate-driven job market. It’s become increasingly challenging for growing businesses to attract the attention of top talent. As such, creating an attractive employer brand is more important now than ever before. Research by Glassdoor indicates that 69% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the employer has a strong, positive employer brand.

For many growing businesses, employer branding may not be a top priority. But, it’s important to remember that your employees are your business’ number one resource. Your ability to attract and retain high-performers has a big impact on your bottomline. On top of this, a strong employer brand can reduce the high costs associated with recruiting and hiring by bringing more organic interest to your job openings. In fact, companies with strong employer brands enjoy 28% lower turnover rates, which presents an enormous cost-savings.

Many business owners have the misconception that you need huge name recognition and a large budget to build an employer brand. However, small fast-growing businesses have several advantages when it comes to employer branding. As a growing business, you’re more agile and flexible, so you can get more inventive with your employer branding tactics. Additionally, it’s important to remember you don’t need a large budget (or any budget) to get started with employer branding today.

In today’s post I’ll explore what it means to have a strong employer brand and how to use several no-to-low cost employer branding strategies including:

  • Improving your website career page
  • Leveraging social media
  • Taking a more strategic approach to your employee benefits package
  • Developing a more thoughtful hiring and onboarding process

By the time you’re done with this post you’ll walk away with a strong understanding of the building blocks that make up employer branding and a plan for several actionable tactics to begin improving your employer brand without increasing your budget.

What is an employer brand?

Your employer brand is your reputation as an employer and the value proposition you provide your employees. Your company mission, team, culture, and values make up your employer brand. An effective employer brand positions your company as a great place to work, which results in attracting and retaining top talent. Typically, the responsibility of the employer brand falls into the realm of HR, internal communications, and marketing. However, senior leadership plays a key role in shaping the employer brand.

As Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” In this sense, your employer brand is very similar. It’s what your employees say about your company when their friends ask what it’s like working there. It’s a culmination of everything being said about your company including:

  • Employer review sites
  • Word of mouth
  • Press

Why is your employer brand important?

Investing in your employer brand presents several benefits including:

  • Attracting top talent
  • Developing a better sense of camaraderie in your team
  • Improving your customer’s perception of your brand
  • Increased application rates, resulting in a wide pool of talent to choose from
  • Making your company stand out in a crowded candidate-driven job market
  • Differentiate your company from competitors

The graph below demonstrates how prioritizing employer branding is becoming increasingly important for CEOs of growing businesses.

Employer brand is becoming more important.

Managing Your Employer Brand Online

In this section I’ll outline all the places your employer brand lives online and provide some tips on how you can improve in each of these areas.

Social Media

Social media sites are not just for engaging with customers—they’re also key for building your employer brand. In today’s Millennial-dominant workforce, many job seekers will look at a company’s social media feeds prior to applying to get a feel for the company’s personality and culture. If you’re not leveraging social media to humanize your brand—you’re missing out on a key opportunity.

Some of the easiest ways to begin using social media to build your employer brand include sharing photos of your team or sharing updates about your team’s activities. For example, why not mention your recent happy hour celebration in a Tweet? Or if several of your teammates attend a local conference, make sure someone takes a photo and shares it on your company Facebook page.

When it comes to social media, make sure you’re leveraging the key platforms: TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Career Sites

Career sites remain the top place job-seekers turn to discover new opportunities. You should be taking steps to manage and optimize your employer presence on these sites. The key players in this space include: LinkedInGlassdoorCareerBuilder, and Indeed. Most of these sites offer a free employer profile which allows you to upload your logo, company description, and overview of company culture. Make sure your profiles on these sites are complete and up-to-date.

These sites are crucial because they allow employees to leave candid reviews of their experiences with employers. These reviews carry an enormous influence on your employer brand, with research by Edelman indicating that job seekers trust feedback from employees over the word of a CEO. Ensure you are monitoring, managing, and addressing the feedback received on these key career sites.

Job Postings

You should be using active job postings as an opportunity to strength your employer brand. A good job posting goes beyond explaining the job parameters to “sell” your company to prospective applicants. Here are some key factors you can include in your job postings:

  • Key company growth metrics/achievements
  • Overview of employee benefits offered
  • Why the company culture is unique
  • Opportunities for career progression/growth with the company
Your Website’s Career Page

Your website’s career page is the central hub of your employer brand. It’s your chance to share, in-depth, the unique company culture you’ve created and what it affords potential applicants. First, you should make sure that you have dedicated space on your website for a robust career page. Next, you should strive to optimize this page. We’ll cover this process more in-depth in the next section.

As with any branding efforts, consistency is key. You must ensure that you’re presenting a consistent message and clear employer value proposition across these key digital channels.

Optimizing Your Website’s Career Page

Your website’s career page is your best channel to communicate and drive forward your employer brand. As mentioned, it’s essential to have dedicated space on your website for a careers page. Here are some key elements to include on your careers page:

  • Key growth metrics/company achievements. If your company is experiencing significant growth year over year, highlight this on your career page. Similarly, if you’re on the Inc 5000 or have been highlighted in local press, these are great things to include too.
  • Real employee stories. Highlight quotes from top-performing employees that have experienced significant career growth at your company.
  • An overview of benefits you provide. Highlight, at a high level, all the value-adds you provide employees. These benefits can range anywhere from the “core” benefits you provide (health insurance, 401k, flexible hours, etc.) to add-ons (gourmet coffee, catered lunch on Fridays, monthly massages, etc.).
  • Your company’s core values. Your values are the heart and soul of your employer brand. It’s how your employee experience your company and realize their fit at the organization. Highlight each of your core values and what each one means to your employees.
  • Include real photos of your team. When it comes to your career page, generic stock photos won’t do. Make sure to include a few high-resolution photos of your team.

To give you some perspective, here are some examples of stellar career pages:

How to Leverage a Strategic Employee Benefits Package to Improve Your Employer Brand

The benefits you offer your team are core to your employer brand. If you haven’t taken the time to think about a strategy around employee benefits—you’re neglecting an opportunity to drive forward your employer brand. When it comes to benefits, you should aim to build a strategic benefits package that helps your organization become an employer of choice and attract top talent. Here’s a quick overview of the types of benefits you might opt to include in your plan:

Core Benefits
  • Health insurance
  • Vision
  • Dental
  • 401k
  • Vacation/PTO
Cost-based Benefits
  • Formal training
  • Education stipend
  • Student loan reimbursement
  • Snacks
  • Gourmet coffee
  • Catered lunches
  • Massages, yoga classes, gym discounts or other wellness activities
Low-to-No Cost Benefits
  • Career pathing
  • Flexible schedules
  • Unlimited PTO plans
  • Social events
  • Time-off to volunteer
  • Commuter benefits
  • Summer hours
  • Remote work
  • Casual dress code
  • Profit sharing programs
  • Open door management

As you can see, no matter what your benefits budget is, there are several high-value benefits you can implement at a low cost. The key to any high-impact benefits program is to have a clear strategy around it. The best way to do this is to understand your workforce. The benefits you offer must be in-line with the benefits your employees (and job candidates) want from an employer.

Research shows Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. This means it has become increasingly important to tailor your benefits package to the changing desires of the next generation of workers. Research by Gallup indicates that over 50% of Millennials rate opportunities for learning and development as extremely important when deciding to apply for a job. In this case, a company with a younger workforce might opt to bypass a 401k but instead offer extensive paid training opportunities.

If you tailor your benefits package to your ideal workforce, it becomes a useful tool in driving forward your employer brand.

Building a Thoughtful Recruiting and Onboarding Process

Many employers underestimate the importance of a job-seeker’s application experience in the overall perception of the employer brand. In reality, every interaction a candidate has with your company from job postings, to the application interface, to your follow-up, to the interview process, has a significant impact on their perception of your employer brand.

For example, a job posting may peak a candidate’s interest, but if the job application software you use is clunky or confusing, they may abandon it entirely. If a candidate reviews your career site, social media, and core values but then doesn’t experience a smooth, respectful interview process to match it—they will not realize your employer brand. If a new-hire spends their entire first day filling out paperwork, you’ve just lost an enormous opportunity to drive forward your employer brand.

For these reasons, it’s essential your hiring and onboarding process are inline with the employer brand you’re crafting. Here are some tips:

  • Ensure your job application process is simple
  • Document a timeline of how all applicants should be responded to and what information they should receive
  • Craft an interview process that’s thoughtful, high-impact, and respectful to the candidate
  • Ensure all interviewers are well-versed in the company’s core values and comprehensive benefits offerings
  • Leverage new-hire onboarding technology that completes all necessary paperwork prior to your new team member’s first day—so you can start the relationship off on the right foot
  • Consider implementing HR all-in-one technology which delivers a smooth user experience from application all the way through onboarding

Key Take-Aways

In today’s post we explored why it’s important to invest in your employer brand and discovered several low-cost strategies to do this. Here are some key take-aways:

  • Your employer brand is a candidate’s perception of what it would be like to work at your company
  • A strong employer brand can help you attract top talent, reduce hiring and turnover costs, and build a more effective workforce
  • Your company mission, core values, and employee benefits are key to your employer brand
  • Ensuring a positive, consistent message across online channels is important to a strong employer brand
  • A strategic approach to employee benefits will help drive forward your employer brand
  • A thoughtful hiring and onboarding process is key to the realization of your employer brand

How do you prioritize strengthening your employer brand? Did any of the tactics outlined in this post stand out to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts—just drop them in the comments box below!