Tools to Improve Company Culture
Helpful business ideas and creative visual methods to maintain and strengthen your company culture.
It’s Summer of 2020, and I’m sure you’ve noticed the workforce is more splintered than ever. Many are working from home, while others have workers dispersed on site or a mix of the two. Add in part-time workers, contractors, and volunteers, and we’ve got a big change in the way company culture looks, feels and sounds.
It’s long been proven that poor work culture can cause health issues, disengagement, and ultimately turnover. Conversely, the positive effects of strong work culture can pay dividends in profitability, reputation, engagement, and more.
The traditional method of creating physical culture and optimum work environment is currently out of reach. Business leaders are stressed about it – among other things, they’re coping with the reality of this presently unusable investment and grappling with decision-making around maintaining a physical office at all in the future.
While those ideas created a lot of buzz during the US’s ‘tech boom/open office’ phase, it’s actually the intangibles – wellbeing, inclusiveness, mentorship and blameless problem solving that drive the highest ROI.
So, what are some tools and cultural offerings that surround these principles – and which ones are most effective during times of unrest?
Time Off: Just because people are working from home, doesn’t mean they don’t need time off or some grace to get things done. Research shows that flexible schedules, discretionary time off, and empathy in general foster tighter bonds of loyalty and teamwork amongst employees.
Intangibles: Many companies have established a wide variety of perks from paid lunches, beer on tap and office gyms. However, polls regularly show that, even when workplaces offered material benefits as well as work/life balance benefits, employees regularly chose benefits relating to wellbeing above and beyond anything else.
Foster Social Connections: Positive social connections at work produce highly desirable results. Employees that feel included in the culture of their company are less likely to feel isolated for their co-workers, and more likely to become key problem-solvers and champions of the company in public.
Be Intentional: Plan meetings, lunches, virtual happy hours. These kinds of things don’t happen on their own, especially during a pandemic. Encourage interactions and relationship building amongst different teams and take time to follow through with these ideas. One of the biggest failures in building company culture is launching an initiative that is purely social and allowing it to fail through lack of nurturing.
Recognize Participation: Not everyone will feel comfortable with every social interaction in the workplace – both physical and virtual. Old methodologies focus on employees conforming to the types of team building activities that feel best to the company itself – while a more inclusive approach prioritizes and celebrates differences. Find ways to connect and promote participation with introverts, extroverts, and everything in between. Consider silent polling, virtual chat/typing and activities other than video chats. Take time to personally connect with employees you feel are not participating.
Show and Tell: When you onboard new employees or talk with current team members, do they really know the tenants of your culture? Are you making these value statements accessible, real? Consider a video, a microsite, or a webinar about culture. Get employees from all levels and backgrounds to contribute, and make it easy to find and easy to recall.
Demonstrate Empathy: While keeping professional distance is healthy for everyone, a leader who shows no emotion, flexibility or humanity will indeed have a lonely time. Leaders who demonstrate compassion toward employees foster individual and collective resilience in challenging times.
Take Interest: Honestly, the most basic step in mentorship is simply taking an interest in employee’s professional goals in context with how the company could help. Finding ways to align an employee’s goals with company resources is often a win/win, with both sides collaboratively investing in success. It also opens doors to more meaningful conversations and better alignment on growth.
Everyone’s Doing it: Mentoring programs have become mainstream. About 70% of Fortune 500 companies have something formal in place. Yours doesn’t have to be rigid or ambitious, just start small with a group of employee champions.
Lay It Out: Are your leaders dragging their feet? Younger teammates shy to initiate? Create messaging that lays out the case for mentorship, or testimonials of leaders talking about their own invaluable mentorship experiences.
Blameless Problem Solving
Promote Smart Experimentation: Experimentation is how companies innovate and develop tomorrow’s new offerings, but you want to make sure that the experimentation strategy is a smart one. Set up quick/regular intervals to check in, take stock of successes and challenges, and be prepared to change direction quickly.
Invite Input: Leaders need to make it clear to people that their voice is not only expected but also welcomed. Especially with the lack of face-to-face interactions, ensuring all voices are heard can be more challenging – and more important – than ever. Consider anonymous live voting, polls, or round robin-style input in live meetings.
Develop a Productive Response to Bad News: The classic ‘boss reaction’ may be expected, but no one loves it, and modern leaders are recognizing that reactions lead to corresponding response. Although you may ensure that an employee never makes the same mistake again by reacting with anger, you may also solidify a culture of fear, secrets, and tribes that are hard to unravel. Consider the psychological safety of your workplace in your reactions and choose to focus on solutions rather than the mistakes.
Change the Game: Communicate how you want your teams to solve problems together. Make some kind of messaging – via email, voice, video, or presentation – that lays out your expectations. Then, remind them frequently and do your best to model them daily.
How are you adjusting and improving your company’s culture? Hotbed Media’s expertise in creating dynamic videos, events and digital experiences make us perfectly positioned to help with your next culture project.