No doubt you’ve noticed the way we work today has dramatically changed as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic. With more and more people working remotely, having a healthy workplace culture is extremely important to both your employees and your company.
Building a strong culture starts by creating an environment where employees feel engaged, trusted, inspired and treated as valuable assets.
Through experience, I’ve found these simple steps can create a healthy workplace culture that pays off big time:
- Consistent, regular communication. Connecting employees to the mission, vision and strategy of the company is one of the first steps to achieving a strong culture. This includes consistent, repetitive, concise communication, both written and verbal. Be creative. There’s a number of ways to communicate. I’m a fan of monthly all-hands meetings, sharing how the company is progressing from tracked metrics, providing an overview of pertinent business issues and opportunities, welcoming new hires, recognizing individuals with personal accolades and allowing plenty of time for Q & A. Most important is to keep your team updated about company financials. Everyone wants to know they are contributing to the team and that they are on a winning team.
- Stay focused on top priorities. To make sure everyone focuses on key priorities, I like creating a corporate 5 x 5 plan with my executive team, which then cascades down into each business unit with more specific activities for each team. A 5 x 5 defines your company’s top five priorities and details five supporting activities and initiatives that need to be completed to ensure each of the five corporate objectives are achieved.
- Empower employees. Empowerment is the first sign of trust. It allows employees to be more productive, feel more important and ultimately valued. When you empower employees to make decisions or lead projects, let them do it. Trust them to get it done and to make good decisions. Stand in the background ready to help or give advice when asked but let them own it and be responsible. Use failure as a coaching moment. If people are not making wrong decisions occasionally, they are not making any decisions. So be prepared.
- Ask for feedback. Employee surveys are important so that you have a baseline pulse on culture and morale. Don’t assume you know what’s going on. You really don’t know until you ask.
- Listen and respond. Listening is important in all aspects of life. Gathering feedback is the easy part. Implementing change is more difficult, as well as providing regular updates on change, but it is vital if you want to solicit feedback in the future. At Talus Pay, we ask all employees to identify areas where we need to fix a process or a potential efficiency being overlooked, no matter how large or small. Do not let employee suggestions fall on deaf ears or work on them in a vacuum.
- Keep employees engaged. Employee action committees or councils are a great way to evaluate and prioritize survey results, with an ultimate goal of increasing employee engagement, boosting innovation, improving culture and even changing company policies. The committee’s deliverable should be a list of specific recommendations for leadership to consider implementing. Discuss these suggestions with your executive team and implement changes. Then periodically survey employees repeatedly to see if culture and morale are really improving. And don’t forget, you can use your employee council to help administer the surveys, track recommended solutions and communicate updates.
- Have fun. Regularly scheduled team-building activities at and after work contribute to a happier employee experience. They not only offer a fun break from work, but they also bring out creativity, collaboration, competition and help improve communication skills, all while building a stronger workforce community. From meals, parties and after-work happy hours to team competitions and challenges, trivia games, book clubs, fantasy football and more, the possibilities are endless. Even virtual events, like lunch-and-learns or activities such as online meditation and yoga classes are great options. When a business becomes personal and people have fun, the rewards are endless.
To reiterate, a strong culture helps attract and retain employees and turns them into advocates for your company. People are your most valuable assets, and they should be treated as such.
Building a healthy workplace requires time, momentum and action. In the end, the payoff of happy, engaged employees is well worth the work, especially in these interesting times as we undergo the great reassessment of work.