By Jay Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Theorem
As we look to the flexible future of work, the questions that are frequently asked are – ‘will businesses continue to let their employees work from anywhere? What does flexibility mean when it comes to employee work/life balance, post-pandemic? Will my mental health continue to be prioritized by my company? Does my employer expect me to return to the office?’
In the mix of all these pending, unanswered questions, there is one challenge that remains prominent to business leaders — institutionalizing company culture for businesses and organizations while employees work from home. This is a topic that remains pressing as we proceed in a work-from-home environment and needs to be addressed as we look to the flexible future of work.
According to Forbes, one of the key elements of strong company culture is communication. Email, video and company portals are integral mechanisms in facilitating connectivity. Although desk-less workers make up over 80% of the total workforce, they typically don’t have access to these tools, often creating a disconnect in a hybrid environment.
Let’s explore three tips for business leaders today on how they can establish company culture for their business, organization and employees.
Why is Company Culture a Key Factor in a Successful Business?
When an organization is interviewing a potential employee – there is an abundance of information that needs to be collected for the company to hire the ideal candidate. On the flip side, the candidate is also looking into the company to see if the job and business is a fit for them. When doing so, the candidate’s main focus is on the organization’s company culture.
According to Forbes, as businesses continue to adapt and refocus their efforts for 2021, the foundation of a strong culture will position companies for future growth and success. Employees are looking for the ‘right’ company culture as the job market continues to grow into 2021.
Establishing company culture for employees, no matter the format or location of the workforce, is something that will continue to stay top of mind as we pivot into the new future of work.
Start with a Vision
As companies mature and move ahead into 2021, reinforcing company culture is going to be at the forefront of any business leader’s mind. In 2020, we learned how to navigate the work-from-home environment. Now, it is time to solve the remaining “work from home” conflicts, such as implementing company culture.
This starts with a vision. Realizing that culture is not something that can be formed or created overnight, but rather an ongoing process that the main focus is the employees. Focusing on the vision before implementing a plan is the first step.
As business leaders, we understand each department has a different function, so each employee will have a different definition and understanding of what company culture means to them. Gather your employees and have the vision be evangelized in company ‘town halls’, or meetings.
Understand what each of your employees values. Hear the honest feedback received. How does each employee define company culture? How can you personalize company culture while remaining consistent?
Then, how do you begin to put the vision to life?
Packaging The Plan
As we now know, company culture is abstract. From your entry-level employees to directors, client-centric and company culture have a variety of connotations. Regardless of location or level, each employee must feel their company culture is valued and at the forefront of their job.
Once a well-rounded understanding of what culture means, packaging the plan together is the next step. Working with your team, building a flexible plan and looking ahead on how to implement it will be the best step moving forward.
Once you have a clear understanding of what the overarching company culture message means to your organization, it’s time to look ahead and package and implement it to match your organization’s messaging. This not only means implementing it into your employee’s day-to-day life but showing clients or your audience that this is how your organization is run. This will set you up for success.
The execution of packaging the plan can be culture training and having teams and employees give anonymous feedback on how they see culture in their day-to-day lives. Then, once your plan is packaged, you must begin to implement it.
Implement the Tactics
Implementing a plan for company culture will be an ongoing process. This is not something that has a deadline or a hard stop, rather a new way of working. It is one thing for a business leader to ask their employees what company culture means to them and actually listen and implement the feedback.
One thing leaders must understand is the difference between benefits and culture. Listening to your employees and implementing summer Fridays or coffee gift cards is not the same as implementing an effective company culture to your organization.
Company culture should remain no matter the employee’s location or what the future of work looks like. Whether hybrid, fully remote, or if we choose to go back into the office, company culture must prevail.
With new company culture, there should be a celebration of individuals at your company who are showing how they are living in the new company culture in their day-to-day life. With offices being multi-locational now, rather than one ‘office’, building company culture in a new way of work will be challenging, but possible.
Transforming Company Culture
It’s no secret that businesses are at the mercy of their employees in today’s work model. Trusting employees to work from home efficiently and in a productive matter will come naturally as company culture is implemented.
If a business leader is able to successfully implement a positive and successful company culture for their organization, employees will be more inclined to stay and ultimately lead to a more successful business. As they say, a happy employee is a happy business.