Improving Workplace Culture During Trying Times
Quick quiz: Which of the following statements are true?
- 51% of people feel more loyal to their organization since the beginning of the pandemic.
- 37% of employees believe company culture has improved since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis.
- 47% of people say they’ve felt burned out since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
All statements are true, according to a study by Quartz and Qualtrics. What does this mean for your company?
It means that many businesses are doing a good job of keeping employees happy during these difficult times*. It also means that good organization culture is more important than ever. Losing a good employee to burnout is a shame for companies and workers alike (and it costs them both money).
How to improve your company culture and keep those valuable employees? Begin by examining your current workplace culture.
*Though 37% may not sound like a lot, only 18% of employees thought corporate culture had deteriorated. The rest felt it stayed about the same.
What Are the Characteristics of a Positive Work Culture?
MIT Sloan Management Review produces Culture 500, an annually updated interactive index that uses a dataset from 1.4 million employee reviews on Glassdoor to measure and compare the cultures of over 500 of the largest American companies. Culture 500 has identified the nine most important values in corporate culture as:
Culture 500 also makes the case for a strong corporate culture, reporting that it can “boost employee engagement, create competitive advantage, predict financial outcomes, and promote ethical behavior and social change.” Research bears that out:
Glassdoor’s Mission & Culture Survey 2019 found that employees think culture is more important than salary, and 77% of respondents said they consider a company’s culture when applying for a job.
A study published in The Academy of Management Perspectives found that companies with good organization culture garnered higher firm value and stock returns.
Creativity and Corporate Culture, a research paper published this past April, reported that cooperative corporate culture fosters high effort and creative performance.
So, a positive corporate culture is important not just to your employees but to your business. That fact has become even more apparent during the tumultuous times of the past two years, as businesses scramble to hold onto good employees.
Culture Change During the Pandemic
Though it’s been an admittedly difficult time, some good has come out of it. In addition to the statistics about loyalty and improved company culture cited earlier, employees reported that their employers are now more flexible with working hours (58%) and location (55%). While positive, that flexibility also brings challenges to company culture. “We had to shift from a 100% in-office to a 100% remote culture,” says Globe Runner CEO Eric McGehearty. “One way we maintained a human connection is by asking everyone to keep their cameras on during team meetings. This way we can still have the feeling of a face-to-face meeting.”
That human connection is important, and oddly enough, may have been enhanced by the pandemic. “To some degree, I’ve seen every employee become more sympathetic and lead with compassion during these turbulent times because we are all feeling the pain,” said Upflex co-founder and CPO Ginger Dhaliwal in a recent Forbes article. “This resilience and respect for one another is bringing a positive cultural change in the way we treat one another.”
What Are Signs of a Good Company Culture?
Still not sure how your company culture rates? Look for these positive markers:
- Low turnover
- High employee engagement
- Openness to new ideas
- Good communication
- Investment in training
- Solid financial performance
Even if you rate high, you can do better—and you should (remember those burned-out employees). Begin with these tips for a better corporate culture:
Be as flexible as possible. Flexibility is key to maintaining work-life balance, which, according to research by Comparably is the number-one employee priority.
Encourage social connection. Remote work can be great for work-life balance but social engagment at work is important, too. “We’ve instituted a quarterly retreat for the whole team,” says Globe Runner’s McGehearty. “It’s been a great way for us to do some strategic planning as a group and enjoy some memorable after-hours experiences, like ax-throwing, which was a blast for everyone.” Not ready for ax-throwing? Try book clubs, happy hours, or family-friendly potlucks.
Communicate like never before. Check and doublecheck that people are talking to each other. Set up easy ways for team members to follow projects. Consider weekly or monthly updates highlighting successes, tracking projects, and giving customer feedback. Listen to employees—maybe even set up office hours where they can air grievances, brainstorm solutions, and propose new ideas.
Help people embrace purpose. Job satisfaction is directly tied to meaning in work. You don’t have to be a nonprofit to add purpose to work life. “I’ve always felt like connecting work with people’s heart projects is an important way to build a positive culture,” says McGehearty. “We offer people additional PTO to volunteer for their favorite charities and then celebrate those efforts with the team. We also take on pro-bono clients who are doing good in our community.”Promote wellness. Offer discounted gym memberships. Encourage people to take breaks. Consider walking meetings. And don’t forget mental and emotional health, especially important now with so many feeling stressed. When Hewlett Packard gave workers access to an online meditation site, they discovered that over 9,000 employees accumulated more than 500,000 meditation minutes in less than three months.
Another Surprising Way to Improve Company Culture
Many companies are trying to do the same work (or more) with fewer employees. If you’re one of them, take some of the stress off your employees by outsourcing some of their workload. Hire Globe Runner! You’ll get expert marketing services while improving workplace culture—a definite win win! Contact us today.