Vicky Skipp [pictured] is the Head of Asia Pacific and Japan at Workplace by Facebook. Here, she gives her advice on how you can build culture even with your staff still at home.
It has now been more than 12 months since Australia was forced into a national lockdown and as we return to some sort or normality in the workplace there is little doubt of the emergence and acceleration of new ways of working. As I look back at and reflect on the past year, it’s easy to only remember the pain and hardship that so many people faced. But I know there will be some positives that will come out of this difficult time too – COVID-19 has accelerated two emerging business trends in particular.
The first is hybrid working, where office, frontline and remote workers get work done regardless of their location. The second is the renewed focus on employee experience, and the realisation that organisations need to work harder for their employees, not just their customers or shareholders.
The companies that have made more effort to connect people to their company’s purpose, leadership and each other more meaningfully during the pandemic are reaping the benefits – productivity, less churn and talent retention.
Our latest research found that 63 per cent of frontline managers believe there’s a disconnect with HQ. Closing this gap is hard but necessary. How do we make sure we don’t simply return to a ‘normal’ that wasn’t good enough in the first place? The answer to that lies in Employee Experience (EX).
Company culture and the Employee Experience
Our philosophy is that EX is a systematic way of approaching employee needs that creates a meaningful experience for people at work. Critically, it’s not about changing behaviours using traditional levers like perks, benefits or general employee engagement. It’s about changing culture. It’s about putting concepts like trust, honesty, belonging and purpose at the top of the business agenda.
And if 2020 was about reacting to an extraordinary situation by focusing on short-term improvements to culture and working arrangements, 2021 will be about cementing these changes permanently in business strategy and operations.
Employee Experience Affects every part of your company culture
But before you get started, it’s essential to note that EX isn’t just a CEO problem or an HR issue. Every major stakeholder in your business has some skin in the EX game, and the most innovative companies are able to bring together cross-functional teams, like HR and IT together, to make these decisions. Building a new strategy will require executives from various departments to connect and collaborate to develop and execute scalable plans. But when you do, the benefits are clear.
- CEOs: Connect authentically with people in the company, listen and respond to what people have to say
- HR leaders: Attract, train and keep the best talent while building a strong company culture
- Comms leaders: Improve the flow of information, and get actionable insights on key messages
- IT Leaders: Consolidate enterprise tools through smart integrations and easy-to-use features
Five ways to create an Employee Experience plan for hybrid teams
Employee Experience is especially challenging for hybrid teams. They’re fluid, dispersed and difficult to reach. This brings inherent risks like poor communications, hierarchies (an ‘us vs them’ mentality), and in-office bias that require a different approach to overcome. Here are five tips to get you started.
- Share the value of being connected
Let your executives know that being more active and engaging employees is worth it. In fact, tell them it’s really worth it: better EX can lead to 21 per cent more profitability and 40 per cent less staff turnover.
- Get the team together
EX affects all your key stakeholders, so don’t put all the responsibility on the CEO. Recruit from across the ranks of senior leadership because everybody has a role to play.
- Empower early adopters
Some executives will get it quicker than others. They’ll be excited about the possibilities and want to effect changes straight away. Encourage them. Letting cheerleaders cheer can build momentum and speed up the process.
- Assign areas of expertise
Support and empower senior team members to play to their strengths. Encourage them to take the lead on the topics that matter to them and they’re passionate about. You could suggest topics like inclusion, purpose and recognition.
- Show them what good looks like
Inspire people with examples of open and authentic business communication, either from inside your own company or from the outside world.
As we look to navigate a world of hybrid working and the challenges it poses, we should not forget about the many opportunities it presents. However we will only see the benefits by focusing on employees. The winning employee experience strategy for hybrid teams will enable you to communicate efficiently, build community and show care.
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