Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen companies embracing a variety of workplace models to keep their employees safe. And while many have come to accept fully remote or hybrid workplace models as the new norm, one challenge remains — understanding how to keep your team culture and spirit thriving the way it did pre-pandemic. As the office has always served as a critical nexus for productivity, culture, and collaboration, now that teams are working remotely it is becoming increasingly evident that finding new ways to promote company culture and spearhead collaboration across departments is essential to employee engagement and retention.
Following are some steps companies can take to keep up team morale in today’s current workplace model.
Support flexibility, not just remote work
Bill Gates once said that as competition for talented employees gets tougher and that “companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge.” Turns out he may have been onto something. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Survey, a third of employees surveyed (31%) said that flexible work schedules are very important to them when considering a job offer. That number only goes up if prospective employees have kids at home.
Having a flexible working schedule does not mean alienation from your team. Flexibility means acknowledging that employees’ work days look measurably different than they did when everyone came into the office — unexpected appointments and interruptions abound. Employers need to demonstrate that they can and will trust employees to get their work done, so foster asynchronous communication and give employees greater independence in finding a working arrangement that works for them.
Improve team culture with shared experiences
Virtual events to engage your employees are more creative and exciting than they’ve ever been because events and initiatives that were commonplace pre-pandemic are now adapting for the online world. Virtual team-building experiences are not just fun to participate in, they foster cross-departmental collaboration and reignite team culture and morale. They also provide an opportunity for an entire team or company to kick back and enjoy themselves together. Some virtual experiences can also address the needs of working parents by bringing employees and their families together.
Virtual activities can range from lighthearted team building activities such as cooking competitions or coffee tastings with professional baristas, to ongoing weekly health and wellness activities, to company offsite events that support their physical and psychological well-being. As for family-centered experiences, a magic show could be fun and engaging for all involved.
Provide funds for perks
According to a survey of customers, 62.5% of those interviewed are currently providing or interested in providing a stipend toward virtual experiences, while 54.6% said they would provide a stipend toward physical and mental health services to support their teams in this new reality.
Though employees are working remotely, it is still possible to support and reward them. Prepaid cards and a budget for mental health and fitness services, in addition to educating employees about how they can make use of these options, mean that employees feel less alone while they work from home. Because the truth is, many continue to miss their work family, and present-day isolation in conjunction with the winter blues has weighty effects on people’s state of mind. The little things — such as supporting employees through grocery delivery, a budget for lunch, and education and personal development courses — can mean the world right now and work to remind employees that they are valued and cared for, regardless of where they’re working from.
Encourage a healthy feedback culture
One of the keys to employee retention, and by extension a healthy collective morale, is for employees to feel genuinely connected and represented in their company’s culture. Leadership teams and employees should be working together to determine what they want their workplace culture to be. This is crucial because it enables every individual to play a leading part in developing their culture’s meaning and relate to it on a deeper level while fostering authentic connections. Culture is an ongoing and organic element of a business, being created by the people or developed alongside them. When employees are not confined within a particular space, which is the case in today’s hybrid workplace, a democratized company culture exists where its people are.
Accordingly, through regular wellness check-ins with team members, and allowing for asynchronous communication, leadership teams can create a stress-free environment so that culture can thrive. Systematically encouraging healthy feedback can work towards making fluid communication a habitual part of company culture. Ultimately, the contours of a company’s spirit or the shape of its teams’ morale will be unique, much like a fingerprint.
Original publication can be found on PulseBlueprint