5 Ways to Build Company Culture in Hybrid Work
A good company culture helps to bond employees together, gives them a sense of belonging and purpose, and can be a crucial factor in whether or not they go the extra mile to see the business succeed.
As companies went into remote and hybrid working mode, encouraging a positive company culture that provides employees with what they need and makes others want to do their best work became more challenging as employees found themselves at a distance from one another. Many have adopted new methods to build and grow their company culture, while others are still searching for the best ways to do it.
What Company Culture Is and Why It Matters
With a topic as abstract as culture, it's important to be clear about definitions. Company culture refers to the attitudes and behaviors of the people within an organization. It's how people do what they do, and shapes how decisions are made, how employees collaborate with one another and how they go about their work.
"Culture is the DNA of organization," said Gia Ganesh, vice president of people and culture at Atlanta-based Florence Healthcare. The idea that company culture is deeply embedded within an organization's fabric is important to understand in order to actively build and grow a culture.
"It is not limited to fun outings, happy hours, team building events," Ganesh said, "although those may be what we see on social media." While these activities can be a great way to help encourage and grow company culture, it takes more than surface-level activity to build a healthy culture in the first place.
Building a positive company culture requires that company leaders align on the organization's values, mission and norms, and that those values are filtered throughout the organization to keep everyone else in alignment. It's not all on the bosses, however. It takes effort on the part of both company leaders and employees.
Why is it important? At a high level, there are at least two reasons to invest in building a positive culture:
Customer and Employee Loyalty
Companies that have a good external reputation create a loyal customer base that is interested in what a company produces and will spread the word about it. Employees who see a positive internal company culture are more likely to want to work there, attracting the best talent available.
Increase Business Success
Business success is another benefit of company culture as employees are more willing to go the extra mile for companies that align with their values, which can positively impact the bottom line.
Related Article: Workplace Culture Eats Tech for Breakfast
5 Ways to Encourage Company Culture
Building company culture is a long-term task with many facets, but here are a few ways to encourage at work, even in remote and hybrid environments:
Invest in Employee Ideas
Companies are always on the lookout for new ways to innovate and get ahead of the competition. These companies can create an innovation culture by investing in their employees' ideas, according to Dean Guida, CEO of Cranbury, N.J.-based Infragistics.
"It's easy to say that everyone in a business can come forward with an idea but actually backing that sentiment with a fund gives employees the freedom to experiment with innovations without risk," he said.
Setting aside money to fund employee ideas can encourage the kind of outside-the-box thinking that companies are looking for to create long-term value in the future.
Schedule Coffee Talk
With companies operating remotely or in a hybrid capacity, the typical break room environment that could be found in traditional office environments isn't necessarily available. Companies can recommend a scheduled coffee break instead, said Niki Jorgensen, director of service operations at Kingwood, Texas-based Insperity, an HR services company.
"Since break room conversations are limited, schedule 15 minutes for everyone to get together to chat and have an activity like Wordle as a daily conversational springboard," she said.
Quarterly Feedback Meeting Sessions
Sometimes teams need to set aside time to meet and analyze what's going right and what's going wrong. Most of the time, this simply involves company leadership or department managers, but Ganesh recommended converting these into company-wide sessions to help create an open company culture.
In these meetings, "input is sought from every employee on what we are doing well and what we could do better," she said. That input can be consolidated into themes, and then be addressed in a company-wide session. By addressing concerns publicly, leadership can show employees their input is being valued.
People of the same culture tend to act in similar ways, and the same is true of company culture. Organizations can start office rituals that everyone gets involved in to help build their company culture. For example, monthly recurring events around offbeat commemorative days such as National Pizza Day or Natural Retro Day can be a fun activity that improves morale and maintains positive relationships.
Companies can implement creative weekly meetups outside of typical work-focused meetings. Things like campfire chats and events where "employees get to share their areas of passion and interests, social activities like trivia, happy hours, cooking challenges, game competitions and more," can be good for company culture, Ganesh said.