The introduction of remote working and the growing adoption of hybrid working, has thrown a virtual spanner in the works of creating a healthy work culture.
It’s a Holy Grail for the corporate world – a healthy work culture.
Not healthy in the sense of Pilates every morning – healthy in the sense of productivity, employee wellbeing and aligning employee behaviours with company goals.
The health of a company’s culture is influenced by a combination of factors, whether that’s the right recruitment, management messaging or something as simple as introducing a pool table. And no, a new pool table won’t fix everything, but has its place as part of an overall plan.
A virtual spanner
Of course, the enforced introduction of remote working and, as a result, growing adoption of hybrid working has thrown a virtual spanner in the works.
For all its advantages, flexible working has challenges, none more so than maintaining a thriving workplace culture with colleagues often not in the same place at the same time (not easy to play pool, either).
But a company culture is a living, breathing presence which, regardless of this latest shift in working patterns, is underpinned by a consistent set of principles that allows it to flourish.
Why is a flourishing culture important?
It doesn’t take much to figure out that a culture that’s flourishing is a good thing, but why should it be high on those weekly management meeting agendas? Two words. Employee experience.
A healthy culture defines how positively an employee feels about their experience with the company. But does it matter if they like the job if the work gets done?
How they feel can affect their health and wellbeing, their likelihood to stay, their commitment and productivity and, ultimately, company results. Does it matter? Absolutely.
Get the employee experience right – right from the very first contact – and you’re creating a catalyst for the culture you’re looking for: productive, inspiring, and caring. But the big question is…
How do you get employees engaged with your culture?
Here are the 12 steps you should be following to engage with employees and help your culture flourish.
1 . Give it meaning - people need to be a part of something bigger than just a job and a paycheck. Meaning drives higher performance.
Do your employees know why they do what they do? If they don’t, tell them. Regardless of their role, make sure it’s made clear to them why what they’re doing is important – and it is important – and how it impacts on the wider business and its overall mission.
2. Magnify their success – what a company recognises, gets repeated. Making a big deal of employees’ accomplishments ensures the victories are multiplied.
Recognising individuals for their efforts promotes better work, a happy workforce, and a more positive culture. This can be everything from a small yet significant gesture such as a thank you note to larger-scale appreciation such as a company awards ceremony.
3. Make it personal - more than ever, great leadership involves understanding an employee’s abilities, aspirations and how they work best.
Are you making time for the development chats, the regular 1:1s, and asking the right questions to your employees? If you’re not focusing on the employees and taking each person on their own merits, the overall culture can suffer.
4. Unite them - people go the extra mile for the right team, but only if they feel others will do the same. With more remote working, it’s more important than ever to foster collaboration.
Make sure you’re always looking for fresh ways to promote interaction and inclusion. When did your company last do some form of teambuilding or off-site day? Virtual hangouts are also a great alternative for creating and maintaining connections in a hybrid workplace.
5. Let them lead - true empowerment isn’t just a place to voice ideas, but having those ideas seriously considered and being supported when taking a risk doesn’t go as planned.
Create an environment that promotes problem solving and idea sharing to fuel innovation. By offering training to managers, they’ll have the skillset to show empathy if mistakes happen. And perhaps introducing a diverse committee that reflects your workforce and acts on its behalf is a way to empower your employees?
6. Foster belonging - fostering a sense of belonging within an organisation, within the team and with the work itself is critical for employees to stay connected and do exceptional work.
A well-thought-out job description and a considered, tailored onboarding process can offer connectedness from the outset. Ongoing, make it clear how a role aligns with the company vision, encourage inclusion through social events and be sure to recognise contributions.
7. Be boldly transparent - the best ideas may come from employees, so listen with an open mind and use those ideas to shape the vision for the future.
Making sure employees feel heard fuels openness, creativity and idea sharing. Give them a forum through which to express themselves, whether that’s a simple suggestion box or more formal town hall meeting. It’s important to then recognise those whose ideas are adopted.
8. Realise their potential - offering tools, learning and development for employees to be successful and reach their potential will grow your top talent — and your bottom line.
As well as offering essential role-based training, offer development opportunities geared to an individual’s broader needs, whether that’s online tutorials, work shadowing or personal development vouchers that can be used to pursue a hobby or interest.
9. See their future - companies that are deliberate about helping employees chart their future will be rewarded with their best work.
Career paths rarely follow a straight line and can include lateral moves. Make a point of gauging interest in internal opportunities. The ideal candidate could be right under your nose and seeking a new challenge. Meeting their interest with encouragement and training could prove fruitful for both parties.
10. Help them thrive - work, personal life and health is inextricably connected. Protecting employee wellbeing doesn't just reduce costs, it invigorates the employees and the business.
Organisations and managers that actively encourage and demonstrate support for work-life harmony will thrive. Flexible working hours and initiatives including days off for birthdays, gym discounts, on-site massages and volunteer days can all contribute to a better home and work life.
11. Challenge them - your best employees are eager to accomplish something incredible together. Challenge, rally and support them and you'll be struck by what they can do.
By setting an objective or target that stretches an individual or team it triggers innovation and performance. Subsequently, make sure you recognise their achievement to reinforce their drive to repeat the action.
12. Make money a non-issue - money isn’t everything. It only gets you so far. But companies that mishandle this emotional area will make it a bigger deal than it has to be.
Understand what factors drive your employees. Is it personal development? Achieving great results? Having responsibility? Frequent catch ups can offer insight into what makes them tick. As well as pay review, schedule a general review to capture their non-cash drivers.
Of course, some of the steps are quicker wins than others. But by investing the time, effort, and sometimes money into introducing and maintaining the 12 steps, you’re well on your way to engaging with your employees and creating a positive experience that, in parallel with other factors, can help your company culture to flourish.