The workplace culture of your business is crucial to your success. Never has that been more important than now, as companies compete for scarce talent reshaped by the pandemic.
As more employees work remotely or in a hybrid arrangement, you may wonder if business culture has lost its shine. Yet, infusing a company with the character and values that engage employees is challenging. This is especially true if your culture is defined by in-person interaction and a well-stocked employee break room.
If you leave your culture to happenstance, what you end up with might be an anathema to productivity. The best company cultures are created with thoughtful intent, agility, and sheer determination. The resulting productivity is inexorably linked to profitability.
You have to build a positive work environment, no matter how far flung it is, to provide inertia for productivity. Moreover, you must continue giving it the time and attention it needs to ensure long-term success. Here are some ways to create a more productive culture in your business.
Help Employees Find Balance
“Quiet quitting” was coined to describe employees no longer willing to “go above and beyond” the duties of the job. The philosophy is that life is about life, not what you produce at work. But that doesn’t mean employees can’t be incredibly productive even while they find their work-life balance.
Of course, the fulcrum position will vary from employee to employee. But those who find their balance will be happier, more engaged, and more committed while they’re on the clock. And those are precisely the elements crucial to increasing productivity.
The efforts of those not quiet-quitting should be compensated for, not just given a pat on the back. Productivity should be rewarded, not hours worked. Others will follow if you celebrate and support those who meet or exceed goals.
Creating a culture accommodating differences in how employees produce results keeps them around. They choose to seek rewards for productivity or do the bare minimum. If your culture rewards the former, more employees will quietly use their time to do more.
Not everything that happens in the C suite should be shared with employees. But you may be surprised by how much you probably should be disclosing. That is if you want to increase productivity by building a culture of trust.
Some obvious practices here include ensuring that employees can communicate freely without risk of reprisal. They should receive regular feedback and constructive criticism along with praise for work well done. Employees should feel heard and understand that their input is valued.
You can be intimidated by sharing bad news with employees, such as poor quarterly earnings or loss of market share. Or, maybe you’re falling behind on goals important to employees, such as growth in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Good news or bad, employees want to know how the company is performing because transparency is a priority.
Talking openly with employees about such issues promotes buy-in to the company’s success. Having that stake will engage them and encourage greater productivity. The fact that employees want to solve problems should be enough motivation for leaders to take transparency by the horns.
Map a Path Forward
Those who feel fulfilled by their jobs will be more productive. But, of course, fulfillment isn’t achieved by just one thing, like a fat paycheck. Instead, it is reached as the result of a culmination of multiple factors, including the opportunity for advancement.
Companies should invest in helping motivated employees get the education and training they need to develop unique skills. After all the work it takes to attract great talent, don’t you want to shape them to their full potential? The opportunity for advancement is both challenge and reward for stellar employees.
A company can provide mentorships, coaching, and job shadowing. It can fund travel and participation in workshops and professional conferences and offer tuition reimbursement. Regular one-on-ones should routinely cover not only current performance but also employee aspirations.
Find out what professional goals your employees have and establish ways to help them achieve them. That kind of company culture retains its most productive employees. Even better, they take that output with them in every role as they move up the ladder.
Build Community Connections
Never before has the work community been so disjointed. Remote and hybrid work, flex scheduling, and global workforces have removed employees from the physical office core. Business no longer done as usual demands new ways to build the community necessary for productivity.
Companies should use productivity software to maintain collaboration among team members, even when that collaboration is asynchronous. For example, video meetings should be purposeful, not merely ubiquitous. Technology used for work should also keep employees connected socially, which is also vital to productivity.
In fact, coworkers talking about their nonwork-related problems are more productive in their jobs. That’s because compassion, empathy, support, and shared problem-solving build community and help each person in the process.
Employees recognize a company culture that not only allows but encourages sharing as being concerned with their health and safety. And you know that’s a significant concern in a still-pandemic world. So make sure your company is actively building connections despite the remote challenges that make it more difficult than ever.
Retrain Your Leadership
While on the subject of changing times in the business world, it’s a good time to talk about leadership. If your company’s leaders haven’t changed the way they manage and guide by now, they need a reset. Many of the old rules simply no longer apply.
Leadership isn’t a status you reach, then stop taking the steps necessary to grow your ability to lead. The pandemic-forced capacity to pivot thoughts and practices to manage a changing workforce must continue. The emergence of new generations of employees with shifting priorities means change is ongoing, not done.
Employees demand empathy from corporate leadership now. In fact, in framing the results of a recent Catalyst survey, Tara Van Bommel writes: “Our current research shows that cultivating empathic leadership is an effective strategy to respond to the crisis with the heart and authenticity that many employees crave – and boost productivity.”
Now more than ever, company leaders need to understand their employees and lead from that perspective. They may need mentoring, coaching, and other training to change how they lead. But a culture that makes it a priority will build better leaders and happier and more productive employees.
Freshen Up the Workplace
The physical space in which employees work is also an element of company culture. Pandemic health and safety concerns coupled with remote work can make this one tough to address. But a poor work environment will invariably prohibit productivity.
Productivity takes a dive if safety concerns at the office stress out employees. These days call for rethinking ventilation systems, individual space, and cleaning practices. But this part of company culture isn’t just confined to physical space.
The work environment is also about dynamics. Employees are more productive in spaces, real or virtual, that energize them. In addition, they must be able to collaborate, which means the divide between those in the office and those working remotely must disappear.
Perhaps one of the most essential pandemic lessons learned has been the value of fresh air. Regardless of where employees work, company culture should encourage regular consumption of fresh air. A clearer head, lower stress, and stepping away will produce results when they return to the desk.
No two company cultures will be identical, nor should they be. Instead, a business should build a culture that reflects its unique mission, vision, and values.
However, there is one element that every culture should share. They should be employee-centric because nothing gets done without them.
See through the eyes of your most productive employees and create a culture that delights them. Then, like moths to a flame, you’ll continue to attract them and keep them circling.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Kampus Production; Pexels; Thank you!