With all of the uncertainty in our lives today, it’s easy to pull back into our shells and wait for the storms to blow over. This mindset can even stretch to business policies and practices where you must improve culture, despite these external influences.
For instance, these kinds of thoughts are more common than ever: “We can’t afford better perks because of the economy,” or “We need everyone in the office because they can’t succeed at home,” or “We can’t invest in our culture when we’re slashing budgets left and right.”
Tempted by external influences
These thoughts can be tempting, but they’re not accurate. Even in a world of economic turmoil, potential layoffs, and budget cuts, businesses can — and should — invest in their culture and their employees. It’s time to stop blaming external influences and accept that your culture is your responsibility.
It’s a misconception that making internal improvements will be costly. Enhancing culture despite external pressures doesn’t have to be expensive or intimidating.
Here are three ways any business can improve their employee experience and culture, regardless of what is going on outside your walls.
1. Build a value-driven organization
What are your business values? Do they shape what you do and how you do it? Do they resonate through all levels and positions at the company? Does each employee understand how they contribute to the business achieving their values?
Answering these questions is a great first step to improving the employee experience. A value-driven organization will have strong values that form the foundation of the culture. This builds a sense of belonging and community and ensures everyone, from top to bottom, works toward the same goal.
When you create a value-driven organization where every employee feels they contribute:
- Those values resonate with employees, shareholders, and customers
- It gets easier to retain and attract talent
- Productivity increases as everyone works toward the same goals, and
- Collaboration is the focus, fostering better internal relationships
Creating a framework of motivating, far-reaching values that touch every employee is a free way to completely transform work culture. This change can future-proof your business and help your culture and people withstand any disruption.
2. Upgrade total rewards
Compensation and benefits are a big part of total rewards, but they’re not the only ones. If budgetary concerns have kept salaries and benefits static, here are some of the other aspects of total rewards that you can consider:
- Professional development. Employees can be rewarded with opportunities to grow, learn new skills, and gain new responsibilities. Continuous learning is important in avoiding stagnation and burnout, and providing learning and development opportunities is a relatively inexpensive process.
- Recognition and rewards. Employee recognition is the perfect way to help employees feel appreciated and valued. These feelings lead to greater motivation, engagement and productivity. Rewards are a great way to incentivize performance and show appreciation for effort. And non-monetary recognition/rewards are just as effective as monetary options.
Total rewards are the touchpoints that reaffirm to employees how much the company cares about them. Compensation and benefits are vital, but in these turbulent times, don’t neglect recognition, rewards and development.
3. Emphasize work/life balance
With budgets being cut and income slowing down, many businesses have been tempted to batten down the hatches by reviving the “hustle” mentality. Everyone in the office, everyone being productive, and everyone always giving 100%. This results-oriented mindset, while helpful in theory, actually harms culture and productivity.
Ever since the pandemic, employees’ expectations have changed. They want to take care of their personal lives and mental health while also taking care of their professional responsibilities. And things like generous PTO policies, hybrid-work opportunities and remote-work options are important to meet those expectations.
This is about trust. When you allow employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance, you have to trust that they will still be productive and engaged in work — and they will be! When you show your trust through flexibility, employees reciprocate by excelling. However, when you micromanage, employees have lower morale, motivation and productivity.
No more excuses: Take control of culture
There’s no denying that outside influences can be intimidating. However, that’s no reason to neglect making the cultural changes that will help employees be happier and more satisfied at work. And changes such as more value-driven work, more recognition, and more trust don’t only make employees happier — they make them more productive. By taking responsibility for your culture and proactively creating a haven from external storms, both employers and employees will work together to help each other find the success they crave.