There were very few companies that had any sort of contingency plans in place to deal with a pandemic that would cause life as we knew it to change so dramatically and so suddenly. Consequently, if living through the pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s that circumstances and situations can change overnight, damaging performance, innovation and productivity. This is why it is so imperative that organisations adopt a strong company culture, one that supports employees through such times, as well as their involvement in the present and future success of the business.
There’s no doubt about it that working remotely has caused many employees to feel disconnected and isolated which has lead to a fall in employee engagement and collaboration. When employees are disengaged output and productivity decreases. A lack of engagement and motivation can also contribute to negative attitudes and poor customer care. A Gallup survey, suggests that disengagement causes 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability. When employees don’t feel connected to their organisation, then morale and company culture declines resulting in reduced business performance.
Essentially, businesses have a need for their employees to be resilient physically, mentally and emotionally.
Many people worked longer hours during lockdown and mentally stuggled with the strain of working from the same space they live in. The World Health Organization 2019 reports that ‘burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’ Preventing burnout, whilst increasing productivity, can be initiated by understanding the needs of employees and fostering a work environment that overcomes it. When employees are burned out, their energy, their focus and way they function is just to get through each working day, not on the development and growth of the business.
Leaders are key to creating a wellbeing culture that avoids burnout by effectively managing employees to ensure their desires and needs are met, enabling them to learn, grow and succeed in their roles. A study by Gallup, revealed that the primary determinants of employee burnout is predominantly due to how effectively they are managed. Employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are about 70% less likely to experience burnout on a regular basis.2
So what can businesses do to create an effective company culture and increase employee engagement?
According to 85% of business owners, employee engagement is a priority but only a third make it one1
First of all, it is vital that any existing culture that implies work should come before an employees’ personal needs should be eradicated! Easier said that done, of course, but it is very doable! Culture is unique to every organisation, therefore, defining the company’s purpose, mission, values and goals are crucial for employees to understand, believe and live out the culture that a company aligns itself to.
One of the most powerful steps to set the tone for an effective company culture is to develop great managers, as they have the capacity to notably influence and engage with employees. So building a strong team of managers who have a responsibility to demonstrate the beliefs of the company, reinforcing behaviours that reflect those values, is crucial for any business or organisation to thrive.
Measuring engagement is essential to find out what works and what doesn’t within your organisation. Engaged employees have an interest in the whole company, investing themselves in its overall success, rather than just being present for the salary and benefits! Short, regular employee surveys maintain a consistent pulse on the mood and atmosphere in the workplace. Regular one to one meetings gives the employee the ability to ask questions, to gain clarity and ensure their viewpoint is heard. This gives the manager actionable steps to help develop the full potential of the employee, keeping them engaged and motivated to grow and succeed.
Asking employees the simple question “How likely is it that you would recommend working at our company to a friend or colleague?” is a very simple way to ascertain levels of satisfaction, happiness and loyalty amongst staff. This method of measuring engagement levels is called Employee Net Provider Score (eNPS). Employees that are engaged are more likely to recommend the company to people they know as a great place to work. The higher the score (i.e. the number of employees that would promote the business), the more positive the results in employee engagement! With a clear understanding of what employees expect from their roles assists leaders in evaluating the reasons behind a low eNPS score.
Building a culture of learning ensures that employees have the opportunity to grow with your organisation. Committing to learning means making a commitment to provide the resources necessary to support employee development, so making it part of the company values will help to embed this into the culture of the company. A culture of learning helps employees to reach their career goals, making it about them and not just the end goal of the company.
On a final note, prioritise diversity and inclusion. Employees that do not feel welcome or fully accepted within an organisation are not going to care about their jobs or contribute in a way that will benefit the business. Measuring diversity and inclusion will help create a welcoming company culture that retains employees and attracts the best new talent. KPIs can be measured by adding related questions to employee surveys and tracking the progress over time. This will enable the business to take any necessary steps to build a more diverse and inclusive culture.
References and further reading
Find out how to embed an effective wellbeing culture that puts employee engagement at the very heart of your company culture 6 ways to build a workplace wellbeing culture
1Sources: Weekly 10, Clear Review