This guest post is by Arte Nathan, a veteran HR professional with more than 30 years of practicing human resources, most of it as chief human resources officer for Golden Nugget and its successor companies, Mirage Resorts and Wynn Resorts. He now lives in Laguna Beach, Calif., where he consults, writes and teaches. Follow him on Twitter at @arte88.

This is part one of a two-part series. In part two, Nathan explains “The ABCs of building a positive culture.”

I’ve been hiring people for more than 30 years, and it’s amazing how many times I’ve heard that applicants are attracted by a company’s culture. I know — you always thought that it was you, or your great products, the well-crafted job description or compensation. All that stuff is important, but unfortunately it’s also taken for granted; people today want more. They’ve had time during this down economy to think about what they really want from their job. Here’s what I think people want from their job:

  • They want to be a part of something special. People are connecting in lots of new, different and impersonal ways today: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. They now want and need to have some balanced and tangible human connections at work.
  • They want to be challenged. The day of the assembly line is long past, and unless you devise ways to get your team engaged in the details, they’re not going to be as good or as happy as you and they want. People today expect to be included in discussions and decisions, and they want their ideas to be heard and considered.
  • They want to work hard and prove themselves. You’ve got reduced budgets, and guess what – they get it. They know things are tough and that everyone has to do more with less. But if they work hard, and things start to turn around, you should be prepared to take care of those who’ve helped carry the burden and keep the lights on.
  • They want to have a voice. The market is populated with so many qualified (and overqualified) people that you wouldn’t have had access to before – and now that you do, you have to carefully and effectively manage these superstars. They will expect greater authority, access and autonomy. But the good news is that most of them are more than capable enough to handle this.
  • They want to be treated fairly and respectfully. You expect a lot so if you treat them fairly and respectfully, they’ll treat you the same. It’s the ultimate expression of the Golden Rule at work.
  • They want to trust their employer, and to be trusted in return. Nothing goes more to the heart of culture and motivation than this – do it right and employees will walk over hot coals for you.
  • They want to have some fun. I know, it’s work; but that doesn’t mean it should feel like a place where nobody cares or smiles. Walk around, don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself and help keep it light. Laughter can be a great motivator.

Image credit, sjlocke, via

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4 responses to “Companies need to cultivate a culture of inclusiveness”

  1. I am sure you are right that employees want to be engaged and a part of something when they are looking for employment. Gallup's research on the level of engagement on the job paints a very different picture with about 75% of employees in America being at least partially disengaged on the job. The question is, "what happens on the job that turns the tide?" I look forward to you next post in the hope that you will address this disconnect. From my perspective it happens for a number of interrelated reasons but most significant is that few of those on you list actually happen in most companies. Employees are give tasks not roles.

  2. DEM says:

    I think you hit the proverbially nail on the head. Corporate culture starts with a declared mission state, core values, long term goals and short term goals. You would start a driving trip without a destination, purpose or daily mileposts nor should a company. Not knowing where the journey is taking you makes for a lot of anixety or at the very least, a disconnect between the driver and the passenger. Engaging the passengers with options, allowing inputs on points of interest certainly makes the journey experience better as opposed to feeling kidnapped or trapped.

  3. Great post, Arte. I'd add one more – they want to be appreciated for the work they do. Please don't misunderstand me. I do not mean to imply employees want a pat on the back or a trophy for every little thing (like many posts on Gen Y seem to imply).

    No, employees (of every generation) want to know their contribution was valuable and appreciated. They want to know that what they did or delivered helped achieve some greater goal (which fits in with your point about wanting to be part of something special). They are seeking meaning in their work.

    A detailed message of recognition and appreciation gives employees this needed appreciation in the context of the work they do every day and the bigger picture of what the organization is trying to accomplish.

    I wrote more about this in context of how to enjoy going to work every day in this post: