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The workplace of today may look different from a few decades ago. With more remote work and flexible hours, it’s not the typical 9-to-5 office cubicle scene for many. However, whether one is working remotely or onsite, organizational culture is the backbone of employee satisfaction. Many factors, including leadership principles, inclusion, and team bonding, contribute toward this environment.
High employee turnover can be expensive for management and demotivating for co-workers. Organizations can avoid onboarding new staff so often if they focus on retaining good employees. Here are four ways to improve workplace culture so employees are satisfied and don’t even want to look elsewhere.
1. Communicate a Unified Vision
To thrive as an organization, a business’s employees should truly believe they are working together toward a common vision. The goal of strategic alignment is to ensure that a company’s resources and efforts are directed in a cohesive manner. This maximizes the chances of success in achieving its strategic objectives. The company’s culture and values must align with its strategy and goals.
Effective strategic planning allows companies to plan for the future and adjust goals as needed. It is imperative to have employee buy-in during the strategic planning process. This way they feel invested in the company’s success. This improves the workplace environment because they aren’t just told what to do. They are consulted about what things should be done and asked how things can be done better.
As a corollary, staff do not need to be micromanaged at every step. However, when an issue arises, they must know where to find pertinent information quickly so they can respond effectively. That is possible when the company’s processes are clearly defined and communicated.
2. Invest in Team Bonding
When employees are asked for their input, they feel like part of a team. Small, informal get-togethers over coffee and donuts help staff loosen up and speak freely in a casual environment. Remote team members can video conference so that they feel connected even if they’re not physically present. Celebrating employee birthdays and regularly having fun competitions can also play a role in team building.
Try out various team-building exercises such as trivia night to foster connections between teammates. Sweeten the pot by providing dinner and prizes. For some occasions, employees may be able to bring their significant others to introduce them to their work family.
Milestone meet-ups like work retreats allow employees to share the lessons they’ve learned during the previous quarter or year. Consider using in-house talent for planning and executing such retreats. Let employees shine in their areas of expertise, such as booking travel or planning games, excursions, and entertainment.
Employees can also volunteer together for a good cause. Many companies partner with Habitat for Humanity or Feed My Starving Children to build homes or pack meals. Bonding outside of strict work hours or job-related tasks can help strengthen co-worker relationships.
3. Encourage Work-Life Balance
Even the highest-functioning teams can experience burnout. To prevent this, companies can conduct time management and stress reduction workshops. These can be helpful before peak times such as tax season for accountants or Black Friday for retailers. Such training can improve employees’ physical and mental health and, consequently, their productivity.
Some employees are great at laying the groundwork for healthy work boundaries. For instance, they make it clear that they will not answer work emails after 5 p.m. or on weekends. Setting such boundaries lets them switch off from work mode and be present for their family. Managers should respect that — and practice it themselves wherever possible. Constantly being “on call” can lead to burnout.
Fitness is another important component of work-life balance. Sitting at a desk all day can make employees feel lethargic and unmotivated. Companies can promote health and well-being by offering ergonomic equipment, sit-stand desks, or even treadmill workstations. Onsite yoga classes or a gym might help those with strength training goals. Others might need a 15-minute power nap in a comfy pod to feel rejuvenated after lunch.
4. Create a Truly Inclusive Environment
Companies may hire people of color, those with disabilities, or members of the LGBTQ community. However, to be truly inclusive, they need to provide all staff with equal opportunities to grow. For instance, a firm shouldn’t just mention diversity on its website’s career page. They should offer internships to diverse individuals and follow them up with real jobs and ongoing mentorship.
As an index of how far corporate America has to go on the inclusion front, only 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Most of the leadership is white, heterosexual males. When leaders cannot relate to diversity issues, it is harder for them to suggest or implement solutions. One way to combat these inequities is to have members of minority groups identify blind spots and share their ideas for improvement.
When hiring, using blind screenings and diverse interview panels can help alleviate bias. Once people are hired, inclusion is fostered by supportive policies (e.g., comprehensive healthcare, parental leave, flex-time) and a zero-tolerance policy regarding discrimination. A workplace that values diversity by showing it in its actions can improve employee morale and creativity.
Culture Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Workplace culture improvement isn’t a magic pill that will show results overnight. It requires good intentions, consistent effort, and buy-in from all employees. It takes time and hard work and often requires fine-tuning.
This is even more important today. With unemployment remaining at record lows, it’s crucial to appreciate — and retain — the humans that add value to your organization.