When you hear the word “culture”, what comes to mind? Pre-pandemic, many employers and employees might have considered things such as company gatherings or free merchandise as their company culture. While these elements can certainly play a part in fostering it, they only scratch the surface.
With many provinces signaling the end of COVID-19-related restrictions, many employees will likely be returning to the office in the near future. Some companies have also committed to remaining fully virtual even after the pandemic ends. So what does “culture” mean for those companies moving forward?
Simply put, culture is important. It’s an integral part in increasing employee engagement and productivity and maintaining a healthy team environment.
With that in mind, here are my top recommendations for improving your company’s culture in a post-pandemic world:
Give your employees what they (truly) want
Social gatherings and freebies are great, but recent studies have found that most of today’s employees are looking for something much different: flexible options, including when they work and how their productivity is measured.
While your business needs should always be a priority, I recommend revisiting your work models, especially if offering flexibility is doable. By approaching your HR and hiring practices a bit differently, you’ll find that it is likely possible to meet your employees’ needs without sacrificing the needs of the business.
Practice what you preach
Oftentimes, companies rely on mission statements and visions to guide their business decisions and growth. These tend to be customer-centric, and while you should focus on creating optimal experiences for the customers you serve, you should equally focus on aligning these with how you treat your employees. This may also be a good time to revisit your core values and mission to determine if it’s still relevant in our new world.
For example, if mental health is important to you as an organization, ensure your culture is not contributing to a toxic work environment. While mindfulness workshops, yoga and access to an on-site fitness centre are “nice to haves”, what’s more important is cultivating a culture of support where your employees don’t feel the need to burn themselves out.
Be empathetic and understanding
For most, if not all of us, we’ve just experienced an exceptionally difficult time in our lives. Many of our employees have been negatively affected by the pandemic, whether it be the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, or struggling with mental health.
If the Great Resignation has shown us anything, it’s that our employees aren’t willing to settle for anything less than what they think they deserve and what they deserve is respect, understanding and transparency.
Many larger companies rely on automated pulse checks to gauge their employees’ satisfaction levels, however a tool such as this one can only go so far. Instead, I recommend using employee focus groups or town halls where you can speak with employees to hear their firsthand experiences to implement real change.
Culture is not something that appears overnight. It takes time and is a culmination of various efforts, values, beliefs and actions. If you’re in need of advice on how to create positive culture for your business, reach out to The Alternative Board today!