metro map career

Why not hire one new employee for two or three jobs? I don’t mean that these new employees should work themselves to the bone, performing multiple jobs simultaneously. I mean that companies benefit from creating a perspective to make the follow-up trajectory clear, very early in the process.

The extent to which companies can successfully connect candidates to themselves correlates strongly with the extent to which companies can offer perspective. This can be illustrated relatively simply. Consider a subway map. Dear candidate, you are here. On this line, there are three stops (opportunities for advancement), and at the fourth stop, you could switch to another line, if you wanted to. Switching involves a so-called non-linear career switch, where the employee does not advance within the same role but can explore an adjacent role.

This brings me to “g”, the seventh letter of the corporate culture alphabet, which stands for growth.

Many companies prioritize growth but fail to propose a personal growth trajectory during the hiring process.

empowering flexibility

Heraclitus famously said, “Change is the only constant,” a principle that holds as true for businesses as it does for life. In a world where adaptability can make or break success, flexibility isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential.

Studies consistently reveal the power of a flexible corporate culture in enhancing organizational effectiveness and boosting performance. Whether it’s smoother implementation of information systems (Lepore et al., 2018), improved company performance through HR adaptability (Ngo & Loi, 2008), or fostering job satisfaction via authentic leadership (Azanza, Moriano, & Molero, 2013), the message is clear: flexibility enriches both the workplace and its people.

Beyond the research, how does flexibility manifest in the real world? Consider the employee navigating personal challenges, the professional feeling stagnant after years in the same role, or the organization facing unforeseen global events or disruptive tech. These scenarios underscore the need for flexibility at both individual and corporate levels.

Two foundations for flexibility.

Clear expectations.
Not everyone is naturally (equally) flexible, and that’s perfectly fine. Articulating the flexibility your organization offers (or demands) demystifies it for your team. It’s about setting the stage for what’s expected and how employees can navigate their roles with agility. This requires mapping professional expectations for both people and jobs.

Empowered autonomy.
Rigid, bureaucratic procedures — even though necessary in some cases — can stifle innovation and morale. Instead, empowering your team with autonomy not only fosters a deeper connection to their work but also encourages a culture where flexibility thrives.

lost again

I had gotten lost for the third time in as many days. In 2008, I found myself in Shinjuku, one of the busiest districts in Tokyo. In front of me was a gigantic neon Epson sign. I knew my hotel was diagonally behind that neon sign, but I couldn’t find my way there. A bit of background information: this was in a pre-smartphone era, and in Japan, it’s not unusual to navigate using large buildings, many of which continue underground. Without speaking the language and without map apps on a smartphone, it apparently was a huge challenge for me to navigate from point A to point B.

As mentioned, for the third time in a row, I was stuck. I probably looked a bit defeated. Until, at one point, a Japanese man approached me and asked if he could help.

The reason I tell this story is to illustrate the concept of empathy, more specifically the difference between empathy and compassion. Empathy (with ‘E’ as the fifth letter of the corporate culture alphabet) is perhaps one of the concepts with the most untapped potential.

Empathy means being able to view a situation from another person’s perspective. If a friend’s cat dies, your reaction might be: “Oh no, terrible news. I once lost a cat too, and I was devastated.” That’s compassion. You put yourself in the other person’s shoes and imagine how you would feel. Empathy, in this case, would mean wondering how that person feels. Without reflecting it back to yourself. How does that person feel? Why do they feel that way? How long have they felt like this? Etc.

To come back to my Japanese debacle. If that man who approached me had only felt compassion, he might have thought to himself: “I’ve been tired before, so tired that I just stood still in the middle of the city.” That wouldn’t have really helped me personally. The fact that he wondered why I was standing there looking bewildered, without reflecting on what it would mean for him, ultimately led me to my destination. He was kind enough to give me detailed directions and walk part of the way with me.

I’m telling this because I think empathy and compassion are often confused. Both in marketing and in human resources, I advocate for an empathy revolution.

By breaking away from “how would I feel in that customer or employee’s place” and moving towards “how does that person feel,” just that.

exclusive inclusivity

Diversity, with ‘D’ as the fourth letter in the alphabet of corporate culture, is fortunately on the rise. More and more companies are establishing roles for ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’, but how does diversity actually impact corporate culture? Here are six aspects where diversity has an impact, both positively and negatively.

Three positive influences are innovation & creativity, attractiveness, and improved engagement.

Innovation & Creativity: Various studies show that when approached correctly by human resource management, diversity not only stimulates innovation and creativity but also enhances problem-solving abilities.

Attractiveness: Companies known for their diversity often find it easier to attract talent because they have access to larger talent pools.

Improved Engagement: Employees who feel represented and involved are often more interested in their work, which increases engagement and thereby productivity.

On the other hand, three negative effects can arise when diversity is not properly managed; communication problems, tokenism, and exclusive inclusion.

Communication Problems: Cultural, linguistic, and perceptual differences can lead to various problems with poor management. A thoughtful approach and coaching are essential when focusing on diversity.

Tokenism: As a talent, you never want to hear a voice in your head during the ‘employee lifecycle’ asking a pertinent, painful question; did I get this job because my last name is Benaïcha, or because I am the right person for the job?

Exclusive Inclusion: Having a diverse workforce does not automatically lead to inclusion for everyone. Without actively focusing on inclusion, some employees might actually feel excluded or isolated.

Conclusion: diversity offers many advantages, but implementing it correctly is a challenge that requires insight and a solid approach.

no pity

Compassion (with ‘C’ as the third letter in the ‘organizational culture’ alphabet) is often mistakenly equated with pity, but it’s certainly not that. Compassion is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In a corporate culture, compassion is not so much a moral as it is a strategic necessity.

When companies focus on compassion, it means that both leaders and employees pay attention to the needs, challenges, and well-being of colleagues. Integrating empathy into your core values creates an environment where employees feel valued and supported. This leads to increased job satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity on one hand, and increased customer satisfaction on the other.

For example, Salesforce, known for its ‘Ohana Culture,’ emphasizes building familial support within the organization. Their initiatives include mindfulness zones and well-being programs that extend to family members.

In short; organizations that hold compassion in high regard inherently focus more on the well-being of their employees.


“Belonging” is the pivotal ‘B’ in the alphabet of organizational culture, serving as a cornerstone for a robust and positive workplace environment.

The trio of affirmation, belonging, and competence are identified as vital components of a corporate culture that is both people-focused and inspirational. As highlighted by a study dating back to 2008, it is the sense of connectedness, the feeling of belonging, that resonates deeply within us—not only as individuals but also as colleagues.

Employees who experience a sense of belonging see their roles as more than just jobs. Their work becomes intertwined with their identity, making it more likely for everyday tasks to feel meaningful.

Conversely, where a ‘sense of belonging’ is missing, the result is often a disjointed workforce characterized by isolation, competition, and a pervasive sense of disengagement. In such environments, departmental silos, metaphorically thick and towering, certainly do nothing to bridge these divides.

Among the various initiatives that can cultivate a sense of belonging, two stand out: a commitment to inclusivity and the encouragement of open communication.

What other initiatives can you think of that might contribute to a greater sense of belonging?


Appreciation is much more than a pat on the back. Appreciation and recognition are the building blocks of a healthy corporate culture.

Gallup research shows that employees who do not feel adequately valued are twice as likely to leave the company in the coming year. Another study by SHRM shows that 68% of companies that strategically handle recognition score significantly higher on employee engagement.

One way to facilitate appreciation is by organizing frequent feedback sessions. It’s important to note that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The old adage, “my door is always open,” doesn’t work (for everyone). Some employees actively seek feedback, while others prefer to leave the initiative to their supervisor or the company. By the way, this is one of the things that Kazi addresses.

In short;

🔍 Visibility: Recognizing and valuing employees ensures that team members feel seen and heard.

❤️ Motivation: A simple ‘thank you’ can boost morale, leading to increased enthusiasm and higher productivity.

🔄 Retention: When employees feel valued, they are more inclined to stay.

Appreciation is the first part of the company culture ABC. Inspired by an image from Hacking HR.

bottom-up culture

One of the best and at the same time most challenging questions people regularly ask me is: how do you build a (good) company culture?

My answer usually goes something like this.

Start bottom-up.
Ensure that every employee feels heard and appreciated. This way, you create a better job match one by one. The sum of all these job matches ultimately helps determine your company culture. Conversely, trying to “impose” a culture top-down typically doesn’t work. I was recently reinforced in this belief by an item from Gary Vaynerchuck. He said; the number one way to build a company culture is one by one. Find out what drives each individual employee and what gives them a sense of security.

Align mission & vision.
When the values that are important for the company to pursue are never explicitly expressed, effecting a cultural ‘shift’ is difficult.

Failure is allowed.
Allowing your employees to make mistakes, in fact, even encouraging them, emotionally creates a psychologically safer place. This makes it easier to get everyone on the same page and establish a culture that is supported.

Celebrate wins.
Obvious, yet it’s often forgotten. This doesn’t necessarily require exuberant initiatives. A small token or compliment can go a long way.

In the coming days, I will explain in more detail the individual pillars of company culture.

What (high-level) initiatives do you see that are building blocks for setting up a good company culture?

great reset overflow

The number of Belgian youths (under 25) who voluntarily terminated their employment contracts in 2023 is a staggering 40.8% higher than in 2022, according to a study by Acerta. The so-called ‘great reset’, where people in the United States offered their resignations en masse during the COVID-19 pandemic, seems to be finally (partially) spreading.

Young people are becoming increasingly critical, and rightfully so. They want to make their own decisions, have their voices heard, and have a say in shaping their careers.

Today, talent is in the driver’s seat, especially during labor market tightness. Making it easy for them to switch employers, given the very high demand.

Without considering the professional expectations and soft skills of talent, implementing a sustainable recruitment policy becomes extremely difficult. In that case, the 40.8% mentioned above will continue to increase in the coming years.

first six months

According to a survey conducted by The Muse among 2500 respondents, 80% of Gen Z candidates are willing to quit a new job within six months if it fails to meet their expectations.

This phenomenon, known as ‘shift shock’ or expectations mismatch, poses a challenge to sustainable hiring practices.

In countries with more rigid job markets, candidates or employees may have the intention to quit their job, but actually following through with it is often a different story. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that these employees have become disengaged, which has a negative impact on their involvement and overall productivity.

To ensure sustainable recruitment, it is crucial to have an accurate understanding of work values and (team) roles for both talent and the job itself. This serves as the foundation for effective recruitment practices.