Over the past 18 months, we saw companies of all sizes adapt, pivot, and accept a newly defined modern workplace. HR teams and executive leaders breathed sighs of relief as employees embraced remote and hybrid work arrangements, often without sacrificing productivity. However, while many employees enjoy the freedom to work from anywhere, they also miss the personal connections and interactions that come from being in an office. Many of them feel isolated and lack an emotional commitment to their job or their company, which can make “job hopping” easier. As Bob Sutton, an organizational psychologist, and a professor at Stanford University notes, “If you’re in a workplace or job where there is not the emphasis on attachment, it’s easier to change jobs emotionally.”
The “Great Resignation” saw a record 3.9 million people, or 2.8 percent of the workforce leave their jobs this past April alone. This has resulted in HR searching for ways to maintain a positive, productive company culture in this pandemic-influenced world.
Your company’s culture is a blend of its business values, mission, and goals. It’s deeply influenced by your employees’ feeling of connectedness. Here are three ways HR teams can maintain a healthy, productive company culture for remote workers.
3 Best Practices for Cultivating and Maintaining a Positive Company Culture Remotely
#1 Communicate your company’s values early and often
Your company’s values are the “North Star” of why your organization exists, how it operates, and how its employees contribute to a healthy work environment. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, 56% of employees find a good workplace culture to be more important than salary. Communicate your company’s values to your employees on a regular basis and recognize employees who demonstrate how they’ve taken these values to heart. For example, one tech company encourages its employee to nominate team members for the “Wingman/Wingwoman Award” which recognizes them for going above and beyond to help their colleagues succeed. Winners are announced at the company’s monthly All-Hands Meeting.
#2 Create opportunities for employees to connect and build relationships
Traditionally a company’s work environment played a significant role in its culture. Employees from different departments often gathered in communal spaces for informal chats, competitive ping pong games, and more. While many remote workers no longer have access to this environment, HR teams can still create opportunities for them to connect with each other and build relationships. Here are some ideas to get started:
Virtual Executive Luncheons
Invite a small group of employees from different departments to have a virtual lunch with a key executive from the company. This provides an opportunity for employees to connect with people from other departments and ask questions or share ideas with executives with whom they might not typically interact. This is also a great opportunity for the executives to reiterate the company’s values and how each employee contributes to the organization’s success.
After-hours Virtual Social Events
These video-based events allow employees to connect with each other based on mutual interests. Consider holding a monthly book club, cooking class, game night, or bourbon tasting.
Fun Chat Channels
Set up specific channels Slack or Microsoft Teams for employees to bond over mutual interests such as movies, photography, music, or pets.
#3 Make Face-to-Face Meetings a Priority
There is no substitute for face-to-face communication with your colleagues, even if it’s via a video screen. Connecting with your colleagues “in-person” builds rapport and helps employees feel like they are part of a team.
Designate time for managers to meet with their employees individually to discuss their roles and how they contribute to the organization’s overall success. This should also be a time to set and track individual OKRs, provide support where needed and celebrate wins. Managers should also use this time to get a “pulse check” on their team members and solicit their feedback regarding their employee experience which can be used to help improve the company culture.
Mandatory Video Meetings
Zoom Fatigue is real. However, scheduling fun, face-to-face video meetings can help build connections and address employees’ feelings of isolation. Encourage your employees to turn on their cameras for the first 15 minutes of an all-hands meeting. Take a page from one technology company that holds weekly “gratitude calls” with their sales teams to celebrate wins and thank the support teams for helping them close deals, take care of customer requests, and more.
In this “next normal,” HR and executive leaders must intensify their efforts to cultivate and maintain company cultures that foster connection and belonging within their workforce. This will help their colleagues feel less likely to quit due to disengagement if they have a strong virtual culture supporting them!