5 ways to build culture in a hybrid workplace
Leading organizations are responding to the new reality of hybrid work by doubling down on Employee Experience. But that means more than offering new perks or better benefits, it means wholesale changes to workplace culture
COVID-19 has accelerated two emerging business trends. First is the rise of hybrid working. A move from fixed work (full-time on location or full-time working remotely) to a fluid model comprising a mix of office-based, frontline and remote workers.
The second is the realization that organizations need to work harder for their employees, not just their customers or shareholders. This includes building trust and focusing on workplace culture, both of which are bound to become even more difficult as teams spend less time together.
This is hard but necessary work. Before the pandemic, 58% of employees were unsatisfied with their day-to-day work. How do we make sure we don’t simply return to a ‘normal’ that wasn’t good enough in the first place?
The answer to that lies in Employee Experience (EX).
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Company culture and the Employee Experience
We think of EX as a systematic way of approaching employee needs that creates a meaningful experience for people at work.
Critically, it’s not about changing behaviors using traditional levers like perks, benefits or general employee engagement. It’s about changing culture. It’s about putting concepts like trust, honesty, belonging and purpose at the top of the business agenda.
And if 2020 was about reacting to an extraordinary situation by focusing on short-term improvements to culture and working arrangements, 2021 will be about cementing these changes permanently in business strategy and operations.
The good news is there’s an appetite for change: seventy-five percent of CEOs are ‘supporters’ of EX. The not-so-good news is that although 84% of HR leaders say EX is a priority, only 9% have a plan.
It’s time to turn support into action.
EX affects every part of your company culture
But before you get started, it’s essential to note that Employee Experience isn’t just a CEO problem or an HR problem. Every major stakeholder in your business has some skin in the EX game. Building a new strategy will require executives from various departments to connect and collaborate to develop and execute scalable plans. But when you do, the benefits are clear.
- CEOs. Connect authentically with people in the company, listen and respond to what people have to say
- HR leaders. Attract, train and keep the best talent while building a strong company culture
- Comms leaders. Improve the flow of information, and get actionable insights on key messages
- IT Leaders. Consolidate enterprise tools through smart integrations and easy-to-use features
So how do you go about building one?
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Five ways to create an Employee Experience plan for hybrid teams
EX is especially challenging for hybrid teams. They’re fluid, dispersed and harder to reach. This brings inherent risks like poor comms, classism (an ‘us vs them’ mentality), and in-office bias that require a different approach to overcome.
The winning EX strategy for hybrid teams will enable you to:
- Communicate efficiently - reach anyone, anywhere with relevant information - and hear what everyone in your business has to say
- Build community - create belonging by focusing on Diversity and Inclusion
- Show care - find simple ways to support mental health and make sure knowledge is easy to find and share
Here are five tips to get you started.
- Share the value of being connected
Share the value of being connected
Let your executives know that being more active and engaging employees is worth it. In fact, tell them it’s really worth it: better EX can lead to 21% more profitability and 40% less staff turnover.
- Get the team together
Get the team together
EX affects all your key stakeholders, so don’t put all the responsibility on the CEO. Recruit from across the ranks of senior leadership because everybody has a role to play.
- Empower early adopters
Empower early adopters
Some executives will get it quicker than others. They’ll be excited about the possibilities and want to effect changes straight away. Encourage them. Letting cheerleaders cheer can build momentum and speed up the process.
- Assign areas of expertise
Assign areas of expertise
Support and empower senior team members to play to their strengths. Encourage them to take the lead on the topics that matter to them and they’re passionate about. You could suggest topics like inclusion, purpose and recognition.
- Show them what good looks like
Show them what good looks like
Inspire people with examples of open and authentic business communication, either from inside your own company or from the outside world.