Your company’s culture defines your business’s identity both internally and externally. A clear culture inspires commitment from your workforce. Employees know your values and understand what’s expected of them. This fosters loyalty and leads to improved performance.
In fact, research by Deloitte shows that 88% of employees, and 94% of executives, believe a clear workplace culture is important to the business’s success. In the long run, a strong company culture is recognized and rewarded by more customers and higher profits.
Yet in today’s environment, where more businesses are moving to a flexible workforce, it can be a challenge to create and sustain a strong company culture. Some workers are remote; others are part-time. Your staff may expand or contract as business needs change. How do you create company culture in this new business landscape? Start at the very beginning, through onboarding and training.
1. Communicate and Then Communicate Some More
Communicating your company culture should be just as important as setting up your new hire’s computer and phone line. It’s a vital part of onboarding but often is lost in the process, especially with remote employees. Make sure you have the right tools on hand and use them before your new hire’s first day on the job. Often companies have an FAQ they send n advance to new employees, along with their mission statement and core values. These days, it’s also easy — and fairly inexpensive — to create a short 10-minute video that illustrates your company culture. But remember, your culture is what you do, not what you say. Ensure that your onboarding materials reflect the realities at your workplace.
2. Pair Each New Employee With a Mentor
Each new hire should have a dedicated mentor who checks in with them at regularly scheduled times throughout the day. If the new employee works remotely or in a different office location, at least one check-in a day should be on through a video call so the mentor and employee can see each other. This mentor can answer questions, check over work if needed, and serve as a work “buddy” during the first few months. Consider this the new employee’s “coaching plan.” Just like with any sports team, a good coaching plan can make the difference between winning and losing.
3. Encourage Collaboration Within the Team
Remember being the new kid at school? It’s never easy, and new employees feel the same awkwardness their first weeks on the job. Your manager or the mentor should set up an informal “get to know us” team meeting. Encourage team members to talk about how they interact and collaborate if working remotely. They can share what their typical day looks like. They can also offer insights into how your business operates, and how you foster professional growth.
4. Set Up Easy Online Access to Internal Resources
Make sure everyone can access key internal resources easily from wherever they work. If you use tools like Slack or Teams, create a dedicated channel for internal resources so all employees — whether they work remotely or on-site — can find what they need in one centralized place. The channel should also have a chat area so remote employees can ask questions and get answers quickly from colleagues.
5. Modify Key Company Traditions for a Flexible Workforce
Do your employees look forward to the occasional happy hour or off-site team building event? Modify them so everyone can participate, even if they aren’t in the same office space. You might send sample craft beers to everyone and have a brewer host an after-hours tasting with details about each type of brew. Or you could send a small box of ingredients to each team member and have a Zoom bake-off. Too complicated? Then try an after-hours happy hour in which everyone enjoys their favorite cocktail and sends their recipe to rest of the team.
6. Encourage Culture “Champions”
Some employees just get it. Their values match your business’s values. They have the outlook and work habits you want in your company. They work through collaboration and get results. Encourage these people to become “champions” of your company culture. No need to label them as such. Imagine the eye rolling among their colleagues. Instead, encourage them to host online events, and assign them new hires to mentor. If you see them as natural though unofficial workforce leaders, odds are their colleagues do, too.
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Jayne Garrison, M.S., is a writer and editor from the San Francisco Bay Area. She specializes in website content, ghostwriting and thought leadership pieces.