In the office, aspects of a company or team culture can develop organically. This is due to the proximity of colleagues within a shared physical environment. However, working in a remote or hybrid world, means that there is a need for more deliberate thought in creating and maintaining a great culture among employees. 76% of employees believe that it is their manager that establishes the culture of their workplace. It is evident that there is a need for proactivity and intentional actions by management to foster a positive environment.
The concept of company culture can be summed up as being the heart and soul of a business. It is the attitudes, behaviours, and shared ethos of a company and its employees. On a broad scale, it can be what sets each company apart, and it sure is something employees and even future employees are thinking about. In fact, 66% of people say that when they are job seeking a company’s values and its culture are the most important factor they consider. Then if we look at staff already employed, there are 40% higher staff retention rates in businesses that have an active focus on company culture. These statistics say a lot. If company culture is that important to the people who work for us, whether that be now or in the future, then we need to be actively working on developing a great one.
Creating a great company culture is multi-faceted. Many variables make up a company’s culture.
Some of these include;
When we look at the benefits that can be achieved from focusing on developing our culture, these positive effects can be seen at both the individual and the business levels.
The positive outcomes and the widespread impact a culture can have across a business are evident, so it is time to consider what yours looks like and if it needs to be improved.
Like with many things, when it comes to people it is not a one size fits all approach. The most important element of a company's culture is the people that make up the company itself. Ask for an honest evaluation, ask for feedback as new initiatives get implemented and make your people the focus for how to develop a thriving culture.
One of the first things to consider is your current company/team values. Is there a mission statement? Is there a list of core values? You need to look at these, and as a team decide what that means to you all, and how you embody each value or work to align yourselves with the mission statement through your day-to-day activities. This creates a clear sense of purpose, a sense of shared responsibility and a sense of community within the team.
From here, let’s have a look at some other key strategies to utilise when developing a great company culture.
A great team is built on trust and respect, this is something you need to instil in your staff. Taking the time out for your staff to get to know one another on a deeper level gives them a greater understanding of who they are working with. This time can be spent getting to know each other's strengths and weaknesses, how they prefer to communicate and what ways each individual work best. So then as a team, collectively everyone can all play to their own strengths and work towards achieving your shared goal effectively.
Starting a new job can be daunting enough, let alone when you’re trying to do it from your home office alone. Ensure you take the time with new hires to enable them to have a supportive and thorough onboarding. You want to introduce them to the entire team and could even incorporate some get-to-know-you games or get involved in a team-building activity to break the ice, particularly if there is a group of new staff. Set out a clear plan for the first month as to what the new employee can expect in terms of duties, tasks, and training, as well as all the relevant points of contact. Ensure there is tech support on hand, as we all know there is always something that inevitably isn’t set up quite right, so be sure there is someone to call.
Promote open and honest discussions. Allow everybody the chance to say their opinion and give their suggestions. Having strong communication between team members allows for collaboration to happen effectively and for any conflict resolution to be managed easily. Be clear with your communication around goals and expectations, this leaves no room for any individual to be confused or lost in what they are working towards.
When your team isn’t all sitting side by side in an office, you can miss out on some of those office rituals. The water cooler chat, the coffee runs or the after-work drinks. Make an effort to encourage these kinds of interactions, whether it be a virtual get-together on a Friday afternoon when you all knock off 30 minutes early to jump on a video call to catch up. Whether it is a social channel that gets utilised in replace of the office banter that would usually occur. Or maybe even once a month you get together, virtually or in a hybrid nature to undergo some team-building activity like a trivia night or a virtual escape room.
This starts with setting boundaries. It can be taxing to be contactable all day during working hours. Constantly getting interrupted by the chat platform messages, emails coming through or a phone call as you try and get through your daily tasks. If you set the expectations up early around when to be contactable, when requests need to be responded to etc, then you are better able to prioritise your workload. This will generally involve some level of autonomy, however, it means that each individual can concentrate, be effective and work on what is most important for them that day.
You have been clear to set out goals and what your expectations are. So, when milestones along the way, or the goal is achieved, this is something to recognise. Be sure to celebrate success, whether that be collective or individual results. Praise and recognition should be done individually and in a group setting to foster a sense of value in having achieved the goals that were set out to accomplish. Rewards could also be in the form of gift vouchers sent out to individuals, meals/wine delivered to their houses, or extra paid time off. Find out what is valuable to your staff so you can reward them with things that are meaningful to them.
If and where possible, promote getting the group together and meeting each other face to face. We’ve spoken about interacting over video chat platforms before and how taxing that can be, and there really isn’t anything like bonding with people in real-time in the real world.
We briefly mentioned utilising feedback, and we will mention it again as it’s important. As a manager providing detailed feedback often to your employees is vital. It provides them with an understanding as to if they are meeting the desired expectations. Feedback can be in the form of recognition, as we mentioned previously, or in the form of constructive criticism should there be any areas of improvement. Feedback, however, isn’t a one-way street, you need to ask for your employee's feedback too. Find out from them how they think they are fairing, how they think the team is collaborating and what their biggest challenges are. If there are things you are wanting to change or have already implemented, find out from your staff what their thoughts are. There is nothing more valuable than information straight from the source, so be sure to give regular feedback, and ask for regular feedback.
Think about some creative ways to keep your employees interested and engaged. We’ve got a whole separate article on 8 proven ways to engage your remote employees, so have a read of that to inspire some ideas. Keeping your employees engaged, particularly remotely can be a challenge, but as you will find out, there stand to be huge benefits when you are able to do that.
When company culture seems to be front of mind to our employees, it must be a top priority for management as well. There is a constant need to evaluate, ask for feedback and adapt, in order to move with the changing ways of the modern workplace. It is not a quick fix and then the culture stays great, it is a continual process to reap the benefits and have a thriving culture that employees love to be a part of and that others wish to join.
Emily has a background in corporate sales and recruitment. Experience, that allows her to understand businesses and people, and to create compelling copy and content that showcases just that.
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