Workplace culture is all about how an organisation brings together its people to interact and work with one another. Leveraging a strong culture is important to help advance employee engagement as it increases morale amongst staff. Additionally, everyone tends to work better together, and staff are more likely to be productive and high performing. Having a positive impact on your organisation as a whole, building a strong culture in the workplace is therefore crucial – especially in 2022, where 47% of people looking for a new job cite culture as the primary reason for leaving.
But why is this the case? The way people work has radically changed in recent years as a consequence of the pandemic. And as the workplace has changed, so has culture. Not only are employees now reconsidering what their priorities are, but the normality of hybrid working has meant that leaders need to work harder than ever before to elicit togetherness and instil a positive working environment.
However, most leaders have differing ideas about what exactly ‘culture’ is. This lack of clarity makes it hard to put strategic changes in place that truly engage and retain staff. Aspects that help mould a robust workplace culture therefore need to be focused on first. In this article, we discuss 5 things to consider when looking to build an engaging work culture in the modern day.
The idea of flexibility in the workplace is not a new concept. Prior to the pandemic, many UK businesses were already starting to shift towards more flexible work arrangements. Covid-19 just provided a fast-track for this, where now, flexibility is a crucial part in creating an engaging workplace culture.
Flexibility is no longer a means for just helping working parents or those who have a long commute. In the modern day, it’s about looking out for all employees, regardless of their backgrounds, to improve the work-life-balance. Organisations, both large and small, can reap the benefits by providing a flexible workplace culture through 3 steps:
1. Finding out what works for teams
A flexible workplace can mean something different for everyone. Consider communicating with each team to find out what options work best for individual lifestyles. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to please all staff though. So, it’s a good idea to work with the majority, or discuss the most valued flexible work options in a meeting. It’s then important to trial these ideas. At the time, something might seem like a good idea, but when put into practice may not turn out as planned. Gather feedback, and then tweak the plan to address any problems that occur.
Although it may seem like a simple concept, flexible working may be unfamiliar to some. Before putting in place any new flexible work concepts, hold training sessions with employees. This will enable expectations to be laid out and the opportunity to offer tips and advice.
3. Learning and adjusting
As you roll out your flexible work policy, encourage employees to speak up and provide feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. Seek to alter the flexible work arrangements as necessary to meet different needs or look for new options.
Recognition enables employees to see that their organisation values them for what they do and who they are. Showing appreciation for staff will build their confidence in relation to how they are benefitting the business, motivating them to continue doing great work. In-turn, the workplace will feel more human and inclusive, driving trust, engagement, productivity, and performance by 14%, according to research by Deloitte.
Previously, recognition in the workplace was very much centred around ‘employee of the month’ awards. The main issue with this type of recognition is that it doesn’t show employees that you appreciate all of them. Consequently, employee motivation can tend to fall flat, as it’s often the case that eventually, people will get left out. Instead, think about encouraging some of the below to show that employees doing a great job are recognised:
Employee recognition could be shown over an email, a message, directly in a 1:1, through a hand-written note, or even in a short informal meeting.
This could be within your company newsletter, a shout out in the office, or a shout out over social media.
Promotional recognition could be shown either in the form of the scope of work that one person is responsible for, the amount of responsibility they have over a specific area, or with a new job title. Recognition can even be shown through asking employees for help as it demonstrates the value of their opinion.
This could be shown with a raise, a bonus, gifting an experience, or an educational opportunity such as tickets to a conference or paid training.
Communication in the workplace is how your organisation engages with its people, shares information, and drives conversations. And organisations that foster open, honest, and transparent ways of communication can reap the benefits of employees who are happy and satisfied.
Keeping this up in the wake of remote working and dispersed workplaces popularising has proved difficult. But there are ways around this to retain employee engagement and keep your workforce connected and inspired in 2022, for example:
Establish standard communication practices
Create a set of standards that will be the benchmark for any future communication efforts. Ensure that this is communicated internally and externally.
Use technology in the right way
Technology is great for the workplace in many ways. It saves time, reduces printing costs, and is a business practice that is environmentally friendly. But it’s not always the most effective method of communication. There are certain scenarios where physical conversations should be utilised instead and are a better use of time. In person communication will also aid workplace relationships and keep staff engaged.
Easily accessible documents
Save valuable time and aid employee productivity by organising shared documents onto an online space that’s easily accessible. Not doing so can frustrate employees as they can’t find relevant information to do their jobs.
Diversity & Inclusion
A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that equally involves everyone, regardless of who they are, where they’re from, or what skills they bring to the table. It’s a growing area of focus for many organisations, where globally, more places of work are developing their diversity strategies to enhance their business.
Research has proven many benefits to a workplace that’s diverse and inclusive. For example, higher revenue, heightened innovation, and better decision making. But arguably, one of the biggest benefits to having a diverse and inclusive workplace culture is how it retains staff. When people are supported and feel comfortable, they tend to work better and are more inclined to stay. There are many ways to increase D&I within your workplace to keep up with modern expectations. Here are a handful:
Relay plenty of clear information about D&I to staff and encourage them to share their own thoughts and experiences. By doing this, you can overcome cultural barriers and understand one another better.
Evaluate leadership teams
The makeup of your leadership teams will speak volumes about your workplace culture. Are men and women equally represented? Do these leaders come from different religious and cultural backgrounds? What about their sexual orientation, physical abilities, or age differences?
Look at the recruitment process
Relevant skills and knowledge are important when recruiting for a role at your organisation. But a recruitment process that’s too rigid can cause you to lose out on quality candidates that don’t typically fit your profile. Encouraging those from non-traditional backgrounds to apply through your advert will open the door to a larger pool of talented people.
Providing a culture of listening within the workplace has become more than just a nice-to-have. In fact, it’s a critical component of creating happy teams who are more engaged and productive. But staff must see that their feedback is being considered and actioned where relevant. This is key to them becoming more willing to communicate issues, ideas, and opinions.
To keep a constant pulse on the employee voice, start with surveys. Engagement surveys will measure how invested employees are, and present findings to show where your organisation can improve. Offer these regularly to pinpoint where improvements can be made.
You could also look to use pulse surveys. These are used to gain quick feedback – most commonly when something new is happening. They help to decipher whether new procedures work, which is important for growth.
A common theme amongst all the above culture drivers, is the importance of listening into what employees have to say. It’s basic knowledge within business that to be able to grow, you must listen to what your customers want – and when it comes to staff, it’s no different. Regular employee listening can be used to track what staff think about your culture, so any areas of concern can be flagged and actioned, and your organisation can flourish.
Find out how WorkBuzz can help you to put strategic employee listening practices into place so you can make data-driven people decisions and manage change better, by requesting a demo here.