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Enhancing Your Workplace Culture

The COVID pandemic was a major disruptor for many organizations.  Challenged with the tasks of keeping employees safe and maintaining adherence to constantly evolving government direction, many companies were forced into new ways of managing their teams and their business models just to survive to the next day.  As a result, very few had the luxury of thinking about the long-term impacts of things like hybrid and remote work, which were initially seen as short-term fixes.  Fast forward a few years later and with the pandemic behind us, companies are struggling to “return to normal” – only to discover that their leadership teams and employees have new (and often quite differing) definitions of what “normal” is…or should be.

Those organizations which previously invested in the development of their workplace cultures are proving to be more resilient in meeting post-COVID challenges (Time, 2022).  Regardless of the current health indicator of your organization’s workplace culture – it’s never too late to commit to making progress.  On the flip side, if you are proud of the corporate culture you have already built – don’t take past success for granted.  Workplace culture can be likened to a muscle which needs constant strength training – while it’s always possible to get stronger, it can also atrophy when it is neglected.  Here are a few practical tips on how you can positively impact the ongoing journey of building a positive workplace culture:


How do You Make Your First Impressions? 

Let’s begin right at the beginning – the point at which new talent first enters the organization.  Curiously, many hiring managers continue to think of the interview process as a one-way street in which they hold all the cards.  Further, once new talent is in place, onboarding processes can be unstructured and leave the new team member to wonder – does anyone actually care about my success here?  Make no mistake – in the ongoing war for talent, companies need to consider the interview and onboarding processes as opportunities for the organization to make a good first impression; and to showcase why its organizational culture is compelling above all others.  The hiring process can be costly – the last thing you want to do is risk new talent voluntarily leaving a new position within the first year due to concerns about lack of communication and support, or other elements of workplace culture fully in your control.  It may be wise to consider how each step of your recruitment and onboarding process is experienced by your targeted end user.  Start to build in elements of great workplace culture before Day 1!


Clarity of Vision, Values, and Purpose

Following on the point above, you can’t build excitement in others about your culture if you haven’t considered the foundation on which it rests.  Specifically – can every single one of your team members articulate your organization’s vision, values, and purpose?  If not – is the issue a lack of communication or a lack of commitment?  Taking the time to clearly articulate your organization’s raison d’etre is an essential component of building workplace culture.  After the initial communication, regularly reinforce these concepts in your ongoing interactions with team members.  When they take pride in knowing what sets your organization apart from your competitors; they feel connected to your larger purpose and will act as ambassadors for it.


Accountability Starts At the Top

It’s not always a fun process to hold ourselves accountable for our actions.  However, if you are part of a leadership team in an organization where you feel your workplace culture is not very healthy – it might be necessary to put yourself under the spotlight.  How are your –and your collective leaders’ – actions and words being felt on the front lines?  When things go wrong with a project, for example, are you more likely to find the learning opportunity or look for someone to blame?  When new ideas are brought forward, do they disappear into a proverbial black hole; or have you set up meaningful feedback loops to help staff understand how they’re being considered?  Tone starts at the top – you need to authentically and consistently model the behaviors you want to see replicated by your team members.


Say Thank You

If your organization has developed a formal recognition program, that’s fantastic; but it’s certainly not a requirement to making your staff feel valued.  Do members of your team regularly use the words “thank you” either with each other or with clients and stakeholders?  Getting in the habit of meaningfully recognizing a particularly helpful contribution to a project plan; or an act of remarkable customer service need not cost anything but a few minutes of your time – and possibly your creativity.  Once set in motion as a regular practice, simple acts of recognition, whether they are thank you cards; email commendations that include an employee’s direct supervisor; or even quick in-person visits to recognize service anniversaries or other milestones, can have significant positive impact on your workplace culture.


Read more about Creating a Culture of Recognition.


Communicate, communicate, communicate

The term “information overload” isn’t just about the never-ending stream of data coming at us through our phones, it’s also about the amount of information we receive in our jobs that lacks structure or relevance to our particular roles.  When you consider how your leaders communicate with their teams – have they sought feedback about what kinds of communication are most meaningful to them?  It’s hard to award points for effort for fancy newsletters no one reads or virtual town halls that no one attends.  Especially in the context of remote workers or team members who work in rotating shifts, taking the time to understand how your teams best receive and process company information is key to helping you create effective communication tools.  Be open to investing your effort in different campaigns across different channels to ensure all team members understand current priorities and future plans.  When employees understand the organization’s bigger picture, it is easier for them to see and believe how they are integral to overall organizational success.


Cultivate working relationships

Particularly with the rise of hybrid and remote operations, it is not uncommon for workers to feel lonely at work.  How are your leaders actively seeking to cultivate meaningful relationships among their team members?  One suggestion is to incorporate relationship-building concepts into regularly scheduled team meetings or other interactions.  Whether it’s taking a few minutes to ask what people did with their weekends; or asking team members to explain one thing they learned since the last meeting, “structured unstructured” conversations can be very effective.  The more team members can see each others as human beings with interests and lives that make them more than just their title or position in the corporate hierarchy, the more likely they are to want to collaborate and support each other achieve collective goals.


Flexibility – no longer a nice to have

Post-COVID, the return to whatever “normal” now is has certainly caused organizations continue to struggle in their attempts to navigate the competing demands of employees who want increased flexibility and leadership teams which do not want to evolve from traditional ways of getting things done.  Whatever it looks like for your organization, ensuring your leadership team leads by example in fostering workplace flexibility is key to staff engagement and retention.  This goes beyond determining how to govern hybrid and remote workers, and can encompass things like flexible hours; approaches to earned time off; or supports for team members’ professional development.


Inspire Creative Decision-Making

No one enjoys being micromanaged.  Do your team members have clarity about their decision-making powers?  Do you encourage or even reward them for taking the initiative and pursuing innovation?  Fostering individual team member autonomy encourages skill development (including risk-assessment) which can lead to a more creative and innovative workplace.  Recognizing and rewarding team member contributions in this regard instills a sense of pride and engagement.

The past few years have been a struggle for many organizations.  The good news is that it’s never too late to start taking steps in the right direction.  The team at X5 Management can support you and your organization through a variety of tailored coaching and training solutions to help you make positive improvements in your workplace culture – and help you best determine How to Stop the Revolving Door.

X5 Management offers an extensive list of communication, team development, leadership, sales, and service-related programs that can support any businesses training and coaching needs in any industry.

If your business wants to take advantage of the Canada-Alberta Job Grant so that you can expand on your sales and service-related training for your employees, let’s discuss your organization’s training needs in a complimentary Discovery Meeting.

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