While the importance of corporate culture has always been widely understood by employees and employers alike, it has seldom been a genuine point of focus for corporations. However, the recent dramatic shift in employee expectations has brought it back to the forefront of the conversation as decision-makers struggle to address elevated rates of turnover, disengagement, and burnout. If having a healthy corporate culture was once perceived as a nice-to-have, it should now be seen as essential.
In a recent Glassdoor survey, 77% of respondents stated that company culture would be a significant factor in choosing their next job, while 65% of American Millennials say that they considered culture to be more important than pay. In fact, members of the global workforce are not only looking for companies that align with their own personal values but are ready and willing to quit their current job if they sense misalignment.
While new employee expectations have been the engine behind much of this disruption, recent studies have shown that companies that establish a healthy corporate culture will consistently outperform those that do not as they reap the benefits of a more productive, engaged, and loyal workforce. This indicates a rare alignment between corporate and employee interests that is sure to put culture at the center stage of many executive boardroom discussions for years to come.
As part of our ongoing leadership series, we recently sat down with Brett Brewster, the Head of Partnerships and Community Architect at MixR. As part of his role, Brett leverages MixR’s community-building platform to help corporations establish a culture that empowers, energizes, and engages their employees at scale.
Today, we dive into three core tips to build a healthy company culture (and why).
Enable a strong work-life balance
A strong corporate culture starts with a healthy workforce and healthy workforces are fueled by a good work-life balance. While the right balance might look different for every employer and employee, tell-tale signs of balance do exist: employees being engaged with their work, having the freedom to prioritize events/commitments outside of work, and having healthy boundaries that allow them to flourish both at work and in their personal lives for example.
This in turn allows the employee to produce their best work and be more connected in a professional environment.
Indeed, a strong work-life balance is not only beneficial for the employee, staving off burnout and reducing instances of quiet quitting, but it has many benefits in the workplace such as:
- Better employee retention and engagement
- Increased morale and productivity
- Higher rate of profitability
The more employees burn the midnight oil, so to speak, the quicker they’ll burn out. This, in turn, leads to lower levels of employee satisfaction, morale, and production, which ultimately hurt the business.
While setting good boundaries remains first and foremost the employee’s responsibility, competition with colleagues and personal ambitions can quickly lead to an escalation game that culminates in excessively high rates of burnout. Hence, developing policies that normalize and encourage a strong work-life balance is a crucial challenge for any company looking to retain its workforce.
HR and business leaders should strongly consider investing in tools and platforms that support balance, holistic wellness, and provide moments to recharge (even at work). It can be as simple as sending a daily reminder to your teams to take some moments for themselves, blocking off time during the workday for your entire workforce to take 15-minutes to step away, starting meetings with a brief mindfulness exercise through a platform like Burnalong, or celebrating preventative care with wellness days taken before someone falls ill.
One of the best ways to foster a strong work-life balance is to create a safe space for employees to weigh in on what they actually want and need from employers. This brings us to the promotion of DEI and the creation of a sense of belonging.
Promote diversity, inclusion, and belonging to build trust
Let’s say you have an employee that’s suffering from mental burnout. They had a rough year, as a lot of difficult challenges occurred in their personal life that made their day-to-day tasks impossible.
Many employers might lean into a Slack channel to open up suggestions to support employees or suggest employees connect with tips/encouragement to address mental health (and burnout). Or perhaps, you offer a lunch and learn with a mental health professional in hopes that the struggling (and likely overwhelmed) employee attends and finds solace.
While well-intentioned, constant notifications from the chats, adding another item to an already packed schedule, or expecting employees to engage after work hours can have the opposite effect.
To create a healthy culture, you need to invest in an inclusive work environment that celebrates diverse voices which will result in a sense of belonging and a shared sense of trust. There are a few ways to go about that but a common theme throughout is to create safe spaces for employees to share their voices and see their requests resulting in action.
Invest in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
If you want to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment, consider empowering internal leaders who are passionate and driven to make positive changes in your organization through ERGs.
Look for opportunities to elevate diverse voices and give them the space to define what steps need to be taken by your organization to create a safe space that promotes belonging. ERGs can be a powerful place for employees, united under a common cause, to vocalize their needs so employers can respond in kind and without wasting resources on tools or policies that aren’t needed. These groups encourage networking and connection within your staff to uncover shared characteristics and experiences they share that can help you create a more inviting environment for them.
Also, don’t be afraid to bring in a third party, outside of the organization, to facilitate conversations, further awareness on DEI, and spark the conversations that can later develop into robust ERGs.
Oftentimes, companies will tout diversity and inclusive practices, but they don’t necessarily have a designated space where these conversations can happen.
Instead of having some of these conversations be over a Slack channel, face-to-face, or over email, HR leaders should prioritize designating a space where these conversations – and only these conversations – happen. This way, your employees can know their voices will be heard and that they can communicate freely, without the worry of judgment, accusation, or retaliation.
This can coincide with ERGs, as well, who may hold bi-monthly meetings or seminars that address common issues workers may face in the workplace, including stress, struggles with mental health, and burnout. While these conversations may be great, what happens in a week or two when the conversation is over? An email may be sent out after the fact that talks about the meeting, but not much happens after that.
Offer spaces where conversations can continue to happen but where privacy is protected. MixR, for instance, can not only spark conversations but help keep them going in a safe space, outside of the public sphere that might limit vulnerability or authentic requests. It can also create a space where conversations can be revisited, as topics become more relevant.
Remember, your employee pool is your best resource.
Sit down with them and ask them what their interests are. Try to learn what they care about so you can align company culture with your workforce’s interests (not just asking them to bend to your values). Ask them which social impacts they care to make or want the company to make as a whole. Find out what they want to learn and focus on for their personal development. Asking your employees, who have a diverse range of experiences and areas of expertise can be a powerful way of creating a healthy culture.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to conduct a survey, but if you do, HR leaders need to understand that the most important component of having a healthy work environment is to encourage open lines of communication that happen outside of a single survey.
Employees don’t want to be told what to do, how to think, what they should care about, or where their money should go. They want to oversee those conversations themselves.
Rather than just collecting yes or no answers, an ongoing conversation allows you to make a fully informed decision. When you keep the line of communication open and develop a feedback loop, you empower your employees to speak up and make a substantive change that benefits employee morale and the company’s overall profitability and reputation.
Start investing in a healthy company culture
Your organizational culture should continually evolve, respond, and grow to meet the needs of your employees. A strong corporate culture can lead to a thriving, productive business with better retention rates and happier employees.
Yet, with the many demands on HR leaders today, this might sound like a great goal but beyond what your team has the capacity to work on right now.
This is where outside tools and resources can better serve you and your workforce. By choosing partners to help you invest in healthy conversation spaces and overall wellbeing, you don’t add more to your workload. Instead, you can invest in those who can make your company grow and in your own personal wellness for the betterment of your entire organization.
If you are ready to take the next steps to support a healthy work culture, schedule some time with our teams.
About the author:
Brett Brewster is the Head of Partnerships and Community Architect at MixR. He is an advocate of the tech for good movement and ally for a healthy, diverse culture within the workplace where all employees can connect and have a voice.