Attract Top Talent — And Retain It — With a High-Involvement Culture

In a recent episode of the Let’s Talk Supply Chain podcast, I spoke about tech and sustainability’s influence on the freight industry and acquiring and retaining purpose-driven talent, the latter of which is my bread and butter.

My people operations experience has taught me the powerful impact culture has on a company’s success. That’s the mindset I bring to my current role as senior vice president of people at Flock Freight, a technology company that’s reducing waste and inefficiency by reinventing the supply chain. First to market with advanced algorithms that enable supply chain optimization by pooling shipments, Flock Freight creates a new standard of service for shippers, increases revenue for carriers, and eliminates the impact of carbon emissions through shared truckload service.

Speedily transitioning from underdog startup to billion-dollar tech enterprise, Flock Freight gives me the unique opportunity to work with an ever-growing team that’s fundamentally changing the way freight moves. As we embark on a second year of doubling our workforce, it’s especially critical that we attract and retain the right talent, and preserve certain aspects of our evolving culture while welcoming unfamiliar changes.

Recruiting Culture Adds

Building a stellar team isn’t just about attracting the best candidates; it’s about hiring the right candidates for the right reasons. That’s where “culture add” versus “culture fit” comes into play.

Culture fit is the practice of hiring candidates who look, think, act, and have similar backgrounds to your current team. It assumes your company has everything figured out and that all new hires need to do is fit in. Culture add, on the other hand, involves recognizing an opportunity to welcome candidates of other experiences and ideas. These additions may not have gone to the same schools or are not the same age as your current employees, but their diverse perspectives can enrich your culture.

At Flock Freight, our customers and carrier partners are incredibly diverse, so the more diversity we have on our team, the better we are at understanding our stakeholders, anticipating their needs, and forming effective communication. If we can broaden our culture, we can broaden our stakeholder impact.

Fostering a High-Involvement Culture

In order to sustainably grow our team, we must retain employees and keep them happy. Fostering a positive work culture is the key to achieving that. Culture isn’t just up to human resources or the executive suite — it’s the employees who are in charge of employee culture.

A high-involvement culture encourages and empowers employees to be active, conscious participants in employee culture. Employees should have avenues to be culture champions within organizations, and those avenues should have support from leadership and a budget behind them. At Flock Freight, this takes the form of five employee-run Impact teams focused on diversity and inclusion, the environment, employee engagement, community engagement, and philanthropy.

As Flock Freight grows, our culture evolves organically, and as a people operations team, it’s our responsibility to help shape and guide it. We do that in part by recognizing and rewarding employees who exhibit our five core values: All in, Do the right thing, Empower others, Be agile, and Think big.

I encourage other companies who want to foster a positive culture to find the people within your organization who care about it. Don’t look to your HR team — they care about it by definition — look to your other teams and get those folks to share their time and expertise. Engaged employees will often come up with better thoughts and solutions than any HR team. Also, gauge how your employees feel about your culture by utilizing surveys — an invaluable tool every company should use. Ask your employees how you’re doing, and when you find areas of opportunity in your company culture, go to employee groups to source solutions — don’t just wait for your HR department to fix it.

About the Author

Let's Talk Supply Chain Attract Top Talent — And Retain It — With a High-Involvement Culture 1

Melina Fairleigh is the senior vice president of people at Flock Freight, a technology company that’s reducing waste and inefficiency by reinventing the supply chain. She has over 20 years of people operations experience in various industries, including tech and food retail. Fostering a positive work culture is what Melina does best. Her most recent challenge involves preserving Flock Freight’s agile, high-involvement culture as the company doubles its headcount.

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