As the U.S. begins to discuss reopening offices, it’s time to take stock of how your company culture has fared over the course of the pandemic so far. The culture of a company sets the tone for virtually everything that occurs both inside the organization with the employee experience, and outside the company with customer and employer brands. From the way that employees treat each other to the level of customer care that’s provided, company culture can be a make or break issue.
If your company wasn’t quite where it wanted to be on the culture front before and/or during the pandemic, returning to the office offers an exciting opportunity to reimagine how you approach culture building. The culture of a company is not something that can simply be decreed from the top down; your culture stems from your values, which need to be practiced every day, in every interaction. We know this may sound daunting, which is why we’ve assembled some quick tips to help you make the most of this moment to transform the culture of your company into one that everyone loves.
What is company culture and how does it impact business outcomes
The culture of a company powers a number of significant business outcomes including recruitment and retention, engagement, and productivity. Since company culture impacts employees’ experiences every single day, it’s absolutely crucial that organizations dedicate sufficient attention towards ensuring that it thrives. Ultimately though, unlike sales or marketing, it can be difficult to know just how to build a positive and productive company culture, or even what comprises it.
Company culture starts with your organization’s values. What do you, as an organization, believe in and why? Now that we’re entering a new phase of the pandemic, it may be time to reassess your values and determine whether they’re still aligned with how your company operates. For instance, if your organization has historically placed a high value on face-time, but you’re going to be transitioning to a hybrid model of working, it might be time to shift how you’re communicating that.
Similarly, your interaction norms should stem directly from your company values, and provide a structure for how employees should treat one another. As an example, one of your company’s values may relate to respect. As part of this, your interaction norms should place respect on the highest pillar, and encourage everyone to treat all others with dignity regardless of their role, background, or any other factor.
Beyond values and interaction norms, the culture of a company stems from a wide variety of different components related to how employees and customers are treated including benefits and perks, team structures, learning and promotion opportunities, client support, and more. Due to the fact that it intertwines through so many different elements, approximately half of job seekers list company culture as being very important when considering potential employers, and nearly 90% say it’s at least somewhat important. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that nearly half of job seekers also noted that company culture was the reason they were looking to leave their current employer. Employees who are unhappy with their company’s culture are 24% more likely to quit. Perhaps that’s why more than 90% of managers say that a candidate’s alignment with the culture of the company is more important that their skills or experience.
How you can leverage company culture to supercharge your employee experience
Based on the data above, it’s unsurprising that 88% of employees and 94% of executives believe that a strong company culture is key to business success. Accordingly, how can you take advantage of this crucial moment to elevate your company’s culture and ensure a world-class employee experience? We’ve collected some quick tips below, but as noted above, it really comes down to how you treat your employees. At this point in the COVID-19 crisis, people want to know they have job security, to feel like they have the autonomy to get their work done on their own terms, and to know they have the ability to take care of themselves and their families, financially, health-wise, time-wise, and beyond.
Ensuring you’re supporting employees from the organizational level, and training and equipping managers to support their teams at the individual level, is a guaranteed way to start your culture revamp on the right foot. From that point, the following strategies can also help enhance the culture of a company:
- Communicate clearly and consistently. Transparency and consistency in all your communications provides a strong foundation for your company culture. Employees who don’t have to worry about what something meant or what they’re not being told are inherently happier and more productive by virtue of having these distractions eliminated. By ensuring everyone feels included and in the loop around what’s happening with the company, you’ll foster more openness and collaboration between employees, and more loyalty to your organization as well because team members know they’re valued.
- Prioritize deeper needs over superficial perks. Among the mainstays of the old approaches to company culture and employee engagement are superficial office perks such as foosball tables and free beer. While these were never particularly effective to begin with, the rise of remote working combined with the level of burnout brought on by the pandemic has rendered them wholly obsolete. Employees want to know that their companies see them as whole people with needs both in and outside of the office, so things like expanding your paid family leave policy, offering coverage for more mental health services, and mandating time off for team members to recharge will do a lot more for your culture than keeping the communal trail mix well stocked.
- Double down on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nothing is more toxic to the culture of a company than enabling exclusion and microaggressions to flourish unchecked. The overwhelming majority of people are part of an underrepresented group in some aspect of their life whether it’s their gender, race, sexual orientation, caregiving role, veteran status, etc. This means that when you create or allow environments that are unwelcoming for some people, you’re making the overall culture unwelcoming for many knowing that they too might be made to feel less than simply for their background or circumstances. Make sure you’ve got an effective, long-term diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy in place, and infuse this work throughout all areas of your company’s operations.
Your company culture essentially dictates whether the employee experience will be positive or negative. While it’s important to streamline systems and processes and otherwise make employees’ day-to-day easier, if the culture of a company is poor, employees will inevitably have a poor experience working there. If you’re looking for ways to improve your company’s culture at this crucial time as more and more people are getting vaccinated, consider checking out Workrowd’s platform. We offer an all-in-one solution for managing employee engagement and company culture across both on-site and remote workers. You’ll gain access to a central hub for all your employee initiatives, best practice resources to support employee culture leaders, analytics, and much more.
If you’re specifically looking to ramp up your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, Workrowd also powers the Global ERG Network. We’re working to build a comprehensive ecosystem to support company culture and employee engagement in order to meet the needs of today’s organizations. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be part of the movement.