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The number one hiring question WD-40 asks to protect their culture

By Ashleigh Hansberger
Posted on 07/22/23
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Every company should strive to have a talent pool of stellar people whose skills and personal attributes match the company’s core values.

Unfortunately, in many companies, hiring for values alignment is done poorly, if at all. Hiring lessons are learned the hard way by suffering the financial and reputational consequences of making the wrong choices. But if you care about building a strong culture and an aligned brand, the company that makes the familiar blue and yellow can with the little red top can teach you a few things.

WD-40 has aligned its values for over six decades by making them the heart and soul of the company. On its culture homepage, WD-40 has the following message for applicants: “Please consider employment with WD-40 Company only if you feel as strongly about our values as we do.” Further down the page, to the right of a big red call to action to Apply Now, is the slam dunk question: “Do our company’s values resonate with you?”

This one compelling question holds the key to WD-40’s strength as a culture, and here’s why:

Values Alignment

Achieving values alignment can be challenging, but the rewards are many: happier team members, higher performance, lower turnover rates, and happier customers.

WD-40 knows that when people share the company’s beliefs and values, care about their work, and understand their impact; they work with a deeper purpose, not just for the paycheck.

The proof is in the numbers. According to their global engagement survey, 92.4 percent of WD-40 employees are excited about the company’s future, and 92.3 percent agree their work at WD-40 gives them a sense of personal accomplishment.

Whether you put it on your Web page for the world to see or include it in your job descriptions, “Do our company’s values resonate with you?” should find its way into your hiring process early. When values are placed at the forefront where they belong, you’ll find people who believe what you believe. This leads to a stronger team and a stronger brand.

Articulating Company Values

To look for value alignment in your hiring process, you must provide potential employees with the information they need to answer it.

WD-40 does this with a website full of rich, cultural content that describes what the company is and what it cares about, along with a video on its culture homepage presented by CEO Garry Ridge. There, he discusses the foundation of the company’s culture so people can choose whether or not they want to work there.

Ridge explains how the WD-40 tribe differs from the average corporate team. “A team is something you play on to win in a situation or an event…a tribe is enduring; it’s there to build a purposeful company over time.” He discusses the human need for belonging and how a tribe meets that need more effectively than any team.

By talking about purpose and belonging, Ridge teaches people about the company’s values while positioning the company as a rewarding and enticing workplace but only for the right people.

To attract talent who share these values, you must accomplish two things. First, you need a language that communicates the values in a format accessible to potential applicants. Second, the values must personally resonate with applicants so they feel strongly compelled to apply.

Embodying the Company Spirit

Many leaders have defined a set of values they expect their team to live by but fall short when consistently embodying and reinforcing those values.

This leaves passionate, talented employees feeling disappointed and disengaged. WD-40 embodies the values from the top down because they know values-driven leadership is an inside-out job. Only then can they inspire employees to become caretakers of the brand and protectors of the culture.

Being transparent about the values that drive daily decisions helps WD-40 align its values among its internal tribe. It also shows interested applicants how those values would play out if they became part of the family.

Likewise, you must provide examples of how your company’s values manifest in day-to-day business operations. By explaining your company’s value commitment in specific areas, potential and current employees will better understand what they can do to live the values personally.

This article originally appeared on Inc.

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By Ashleigh Hansberger