There’s no doubt that businesses have had a rough couple of years. But those that have managed to survive have often come out stronger on the other side.
Many of these businesses have something in common: they’re dedicated to keeping (or even improving) their company culture during uncertain times. That doesn’t mean they’re offering pizza parties in lieu of fair treatment. In fact, they’re putting their people first – and it shows.
Companies with great culture – meaning the values, missions, goals, and overall environment that guide how employees and employers interact with each other – have major gains over organizations with toxic workplace cultures. Having an awesome corporate culture can help you attract new employees, keep existing team members around, improve productivity rates, and increase profitability.
Basically, if you want to become a leader in your industry, you need to prioritize cultural improvement. Here are just three ways you can start that process before the year is over.
Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
Prior to the pandemic, remote work was becoming more popular. But during 2020, it became clear that employers who were resistant to the idea might need to change their tune.
Now that we know just how many jobs can be performed in non-traditional environments, many employees have no real desire to return to the office any time soon. In fact, one recent Bloomberg survey found that nearly 40% of U.S. adults would consider quitting their jobs if their employers weren’t willing to offer remote work as a long-term solution. Almost 50% of millennials and Gen Zers said the same, which shows just how essential flexible work arrangements are to the American workforce post-pandemic.
Workers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from greater work flexibility, however. Businesses that offer remote work options have shown to have more productive employees and can save on a slew of overhead costs. Reducing daily commutes can also help organizations reach their environmental responsibility goals, as well. And keeping employees engaged and happy can mean huge things for your bottom line. Since turnover can cost around $15,000 per employee, according to HR Dive, it’s within a business owner’s best interest to keep them around.
Whether working from home has become the norm or you’re considering your options for the future, the remote work vs. office work debate is ongoing. But if you’re looking for ways to improve employee satisfaction and engagement while cutting costs, this is one cultural improvement you can’t afford to overlook.
Practice Active Listening
We take our ability to hear for granted. But equating hearing with listening is a mistake many bosses make far too often.
It’s not enough to simply perceive sound and interpret that sound into words. You really need to actively listen to your employees and create a culture of listening to ensure every voice is heard.
Active listening involves understanding the meaning behind the messages you hear. You need to be open to this communication to ensure employees feel valued and to diffuse heated situations.
It might seem like a small thing, particularly because many of us think we’re great listeners. But it can make a huge difference in the way your team communicates.
To practice active listening, start with the acronym “RASA.” That involves:
- Receiving information (or paying attention)
- Appreciating what’s being said (making verbal/non-verbal confirmation)
- Summarizing the speaker’s message (repeating back what you’ve heard)
- Asking questions (to confirm or to further explore)
When we practice active listening, we don’t interrupt the speaker or tell them why their thoughts are wrong. We take the time to stay present and to take in the information that’s being communicated, rather than focusing on what we’re going to say next. This adjustment can make sure meaning isn’t lost or that team members don’t feel dismissed.
Furthering an active listening culture can have massive impacts on the way staff members interact with one another and ensure that your values are clear. When employees feel valued for their contributions, they’ll be more engaged and productive at work – and you’ll benefit from their insights and innovations.
Invest in Professional Development
Many business owners assume that job loyalty simply doesn’t exist anymore. But that’s largely because employees feel like they don’t matter. If you want to keep your people around, you need to invest in them.
That might include providing additional training, helping team members to improve their soft skills, or holding one-on-one meetings to encourage ongoing performance improvement and leadership development. You might also nudge them to take on projects they’re passionate about or get involved in company innovation.
Even if there’s a chance that helping an employee improve their skill set will prompt them to look for other opportunities, that’s a risk you must be willing to take. The truth is that this is always a risk of this when you have great people in your employ. But if you take the time to nurture their potential and help them achieve great things, there’s probably a better chance that they’ll stay where they feel valued and challenged.
No one wants to feel stagnant in their job. If they feel there’s no room for growth, they’ll feel discouraged and disconnected. But if they’re having a real impact on the company’s growth and feel great about all they’re learning, that’s a huge win for your culture.
Improving Your Company Culture is Always Worth the Effort
Building a spectacular workplace culture takes time and effort; it’s not going to happen overnight. But if you stick with it, you’ll reap the rewards. Not only will your employees be happier and want to stick around, but your company will likely be more successful overall. With these tips in mind, you can start improving your company culture today for a stronger and healthier tomorrow.