Now more than ever, employers are struggling to hire and retain talent. We have been asked more than once why turnover is so high (we discuss this in detail here). In too many cases, furthest from leaders’ minds is perhaps exactly what can stop the employee mass exodus we seem to be experiencing and boost potential hires’ interest:
The health of their work culture.
The reality is that far too few leaders ensure their work cultures meet this standard. And when employees don’t feel as though this is being met, particularly post-pandemic which has fuelled greater freedom and autonomy while working from home, they leave. For many companies with less-than-healthy work cultures, the ‘Great Resignation’ is real.
When working from home became a norm for many (and being laid off a reality for others), the pandemic gave many PR and comms professionals a chance to consider what is most important to them, a moment to reprioritise life, and to reconsider what they wanted from their employers.
Leaders may or may not realise that culture change is now crucial to effectively stop top talent from giving notice. Or they won’t be able to attract, retain, and celebrate talented and engaged players of all generations. It’s high time employers turn their attention to developing workplaces that their people find not just civil but innovative, gratifying, productive, and fun.
As more businesses move towards a hybrid working model that embraces the best of both remote and office-based work, adapting to this new model will prove more nuanced in practice, especially when it comes to company culture.
So how can corporate comms leaders build the types of bonds that establish a lasting culture, not to mention integrate new employees? How can they redefine company culture to match the new rhythms that emerge when some employees are in the office and others are working from anywhere?
Here’s how we view the future of company culture, and how it needs to adapt so that all team members feel as connected and supported as they did pre-Covid.
- The first hurdle is acknowledging that a strong company culture has not suddenly gone away in a remote/hybrid context. Cultural norms are still being created and reinforced, but they’re not being guided purely by the routines that were previously established in the office. The shift to working from home (either fully or partially) means that leaders need to ensure an even distribution of culture across those in the office and those working remotely. One of the greatest risks with hybrid work is the potential for employees to have different and incompatible understandings of the company culture, and to lose that all-important sense of connection with the rest of the team.
- Leaders need to not only understand the type of culture employees want, but how and when to communicate it – with a reduced number of contact hours, they will need to be disciplined in how they ensure that their culture fosters inclusiveness and builds a strong team.
- Remember – work culture, whether it’s in-person or remote, is an unconditional feeling of connection a team experiences when they’re bonded by similar priorities, interests, and attitudes. This feeling of connection can survive when people don’t see each other on a regular basis, but only if it’s fed by regular in-person catch-ups – these are key to keeping this feeling of connection alive.
- If employees loved to gather for impromptu nights out pre-Covid, and have not resumed this ritual, then it needs to be re-instated. Find a day when all or most of the team are in the office and ensure that this is the day when the whole team do something together, whether it’s lunch, cocktails, yoga, or mini golf! Pinpoint the underlying appeal of what bonded the team before the pandemic and recreate it.
- If you are sitting beside a colleague in the office every day, it doesn’t take long to start learning a lot about them; without even trying, you start getting a sense of who they are as a person, and what personality traits they have. This becomes more of a challenge when the team is working remotely. Remote employees are often working from a home office, kitchen table, or even a sofa. There’s no shared space for employees to catch up and chat, making it challenging to not only form, but preserve a sense of camaraderie. Your remote team culture will flourish or fail, purely on communication. Do a survey to establish some simple, fun activities for the team to undertake (things that remote team members can join via Zoom or Teams) on a regular basis – this will really help to grow a positive company culture with both the remote and in-person team.
- Set aside regular times every week for a whole team chat if possible. Cover what the team is working on, give details on any decisions that may affect the team and reiterate that you want feedback and open communication. Having these regular meetings helps share news and encourages motivation amongst the entire team.
- When using video conferencing, ensure cameras are on. This allows people to recognise each other and see reactions and facial expressions. Body language helps effective communication as people observe your body language almost as much as they listen to what you are saying.
Remember: employees – of all generations – desire and deserve workplaces where they are respected and validated for their ideas, efforts, and contributions, every day. And they want to work somewhere where they feel valued, noticed, respected, supported, and cared for.
We hope that leaders will recognise that thriving in the new era of work depends on being open to new ways of building and maintaining a strong culture that is as fun as it is supportive. After all, we all need something to smile about these days!
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The Works Search: a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email email@example.com