Why company culture is essential in enticing employees back to the office
After more than two years, businesses are ready to welcome back their employees with open arms. For some, it may suggest old-school thinking about employment. However, for others, it’s a crucial first step to reigniting the company culture and getting teams back together in a collaborative post COVID-19 environment.
While many New Zealand employers are eager to fill their office spaces once again, the same can’t be said for employees.
Returning to the workplace post pandemic can be a daunting experience for many, especially those who don’t want to miss out on the benefits of working from home. With the odds stacked against them, businesses are making every effort to entice employees back to the office, with incentives ranging from festivals and concerts at the office to punitive measures like pay cuts for those who insist on working from home. However, these extremes are unlikely to deliver strong employee engagement in the long run.
Restoring workplace culture
If going back to work is the right step, businesses need to consider the best way to encourage staff to embrace the return. This starts with company culture. Employees don’t want to return to the office to sit on endless Zoom meetings and have minimal face-to-face contact with their colleagues.
Workplaces that actively enhance workplace culture are more likely to retain employees, improve productivity, and increase customer satisfaction. However, a good company culture must be deliberately created, nurtured, and maintained.
There are six powerful ways to help employers make their business a better place to work:
- Enhance collaboration: fostering collaboration is one of the best things to do to boost employee morale and engagement. Having a culture of open collaboration means employees can express their opinions and offer feedback in an inclusive environment. A collaborative work culture also lends itself to better decision-making and increased happiness.
- Support networking and connection: providing networking opportunities can help employees feel connected with one another and less isolated. In fact, a strong networking environment is more likely to spur on feelings of empowerment, value, drive, and motivation. Businesses can initiate networking opportunities such as monthly social gatherings and professional development book clubs, for example.
- Offer incentives: companies are offering a slew of incentives to get workers back to the office. From free pizza and discounted parking to fitness and wellness sessions, offering ‘work perks’ is another way companies are persuading their employees to return to work. While incentive programs can be powerful tools to motivate and engage employees, they must work in tandem with a solid company culture to be effective.
- Consider ESG: environmental, social, and governance (ESG) is a set of standards measuring the impact of the sustainability and ethical practices of the company. When employees are aware of what a company stands for, they are more likely to remain in their job to help drive that mission. Businesses that have a clear ESG strategy also tend to attract talent aligned with those values.
- Improve safety and wellness: a focus on safety and wellness can help with job retention and help promote health and mental wellbeing. This means implementing strategies to create healthy habits in employees’ personal and professional lives.
- Ease cost of living pain: soaring inflation means employees are tightening their belts when it comes to buying takeaway coffees, lunches, and petrol. Those who were previously working from home will feel the pinch more than others. To ease the pain, companies are encouraging employees to return to work with subsidised transport costs and free coffee.
However, a good culture is more than a company’s perks. Building a unique, positive culture is central to business success and provides more long-term value than free coffee. As more workers return to the office, the pressure builds on businesses to ease the dread that many employees may be feeling.
Businesses should review their current company culture to ensure employees are engaged, supported, and valued. Failure to do so will result not only in a lack of communication, but could also contribute to increased absenteeism, lower productivity, and higher turnover.
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