A recent article in Forbes (link below) covers a topic we discuss almost weekly with clients — the competitive advantage of culture.

Cultures like Google and Apple are renowned for creating competitive advantage through fostering creativity that leads to great new product offerings.

One often overlooked aspect of having a fantastic culture are the returns to the company in the form of better employee recruitment, development and retention. Many of our clients bemoan the fact that they cannot offer competitive salaries – particularly those in the public and non-profit sectors – and therefore lose-out on the “best” talent in the market. Additionally, many feel that low salaries cause a high turnover rate among their best employees, leading to a talent-brain-drain within the organization. Most, unfortunately, resign themselves to this situation as an inevitability. We work to convince them otherwise.

During the recent recession, lower paying companies have been able to hire extra-ordinary talent. But they fear, with good cause, that these same people will be heading to other higher paying opportunities once the job market improves.

The competitive component that most organizations are missing out on is the quality of their culture. Working within a fantastic culture – one that inspires and nurtures the individual – is one of the key strategies for recruitment, development and retention of great talent. Different cultures appeal to different people. Finding those individuals that are a fit for your culture should start at hiring. Articulating and carefully cultivating a great culture can help all companies hire, develop and retain an above average, talented workforce.

Creating an intentional culture and installing it within the organization (Because you have an operating culture, whether you intend it or not!) is a strategic challenge that will have yield competitive advantage to those willing to take on the challenge.