Three strategies for a positive corporate culture
Stephanie Coward is Managing Director of Human Capital Management (HCM) at IRIS Software Group.
The pandemic gave millions of people the opportunity to dip their toes into an enhanced work-life balance, more time with loved ones, and reduced commuting costs. Over one-third of employed workers were now at home and our mindset of office-based work versus remote changed forever. Three years later, many employees expect the best of both worlds with hybrid options – but it’s brought new challenges to the workplace.
One of the top challenges organizations are facing is maintaining organizational culture. According to Gallup’s 2022 workplace survey, 32% of workers are feeling less connected to the culture when they work in a remote or hybrid format. For some employees, this working format has meant a lack of collaboration and excessive work hours if they are unable to switch off at the end of the day. On the other hand, an additional Gartner report found that 67 percent of employees expect flexibility and 55% said it would impact whether or not they stay with a company.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to building and maintaining a positive corporate culture, but leaders must find ways that work for their own unique teams in order to build meaningful relationships in an organic way.
Ask your employees what they want
It’s important for leaders to maintain an organizational culture within a flexible work environment. Leaders can both foster their culture and allow their team to focus on delivering valuable work and services to their clients. Whether a team member is working from their kitchen table 1,000 miles away or coming into the office a few days a week, putting a strategy in place to build a positive company culture will set you up for success.
The first step is to learn more about what your employees want. By listening to your employee’s concerns and incorporating their feedback, you can begin to foster authentic, respectful relationships with your team. Only once you know how, and how often, your employees want to meet in person can you begin to set a regular cadence for activities focused on interpersonal interactions that will make a difference for all those involved.
Establish culture from the top
Managers will play a critical role in establishing your positive organizational culture and setting the standard for the rest of the organization. It is important for managers to lead by example to minimize burnout. For example, ensuring managers log off at the end of the day and not answering emails outside of work hours will give all employees permission to do the same.
When manager and employee interaction is good, it encourages overall greater contributions from the team and can improve job satisfaction. It is critical to have managers helping every employee understand where they fit into the larger organizational structure when teams are dispersed across the country. They can help their team set their roles and responsibilities and specify expectations when working in a remote or hybrid environment for performance, communication and hours worked.
Focus on interpersonal connection
The regular daily occurrences of personal connections that boost team morale or connectivity organically are not possible in a remote environment. Employees that crave those types of interpersonal connections and collaborations like catching up at a co-worker's desk might feel the loss of an organization’s culture in a remote environment - but it doesn’t have to be that way. Approaches that create team engagement in today’s workplace include:
- In-person quarterly gatherings for teams that are fully remote or don’t get together often for meetings
- Dedicating time for social catch ups to build team cohesion and foster genuine connections
- Agreed upon time in the office together to create opportunities for shared experiences, problem solving and professional development
These interactions allow employees to build interpersonal relationships through socialization, helping to foster positive relationships and ultimately, boost productivity. By following these strategies, business leaders can find ways to build and maintain a positive corporate culture in a hybrid and remote working environment.