Intentional culture change in the workplace has never been an easy feat. And in 2022 and beyond, it’s perhaps trickier – but more important – than ever before.
During the pandemic, workplaces quickly decentralized, moving from the office to employees’ homes.
At the same time, organizations found themselves responding to an unprecedented global challenge that impacted everything from stock market performance to employees’ health.
Much of the change that organizations underwent – remote work, digital transformation, social distancing – was born of necessity. There wasn’t much of a choice. The options were to adapt and innovate – or go under.
But now, as the world slowly settles into its new normal, businesses are at a critical decision point.
Will they revert to pre-pandemic business-as-usual? Or will they transform working conditions and company culture to meet the needs of post-pandemic workforces?
At RTG Solutions Group, we believe the answer is clear: the time for culture change is now. To find out why and how businesses should focus on culture change, keep scrolling!
Here’s exactly what we’re covering today:
- The case for culture change in the workplace
- 3 priorities for cultural transformation in post-pandemic workforces
THE CASE FOR CULTURE CHANGE IN THE WORKPLACE
The Great Resignation – in which 24 million Americans quit their jobs in a span of five months – is perhaps the biggest indicator that the pre-pandemic norm simply is not good enough.
For businesses that want to become more resilient in the face of adversity and retain top talent, cultural transformation is a must.
How do we know this? Well, according to a groundbreaking report from the MIT Sloan Management Review, failings in corporate culture were the epicenter of the Great Resignation.
In fact, their report found that toxic company culture was by far the number one cause of resignations. Poor company culture was actually 10.4 times more important than compensation as a predictor of attrition.
Here are some of the factors that were associated with toxic work culture in the MIT report:
- Lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Employees feeling disrespected at work
- Unethical decisions and behaviors within the company
According to the same report, job insecurity and reorganization was the second leading cause of turnover. This is because, first, mass lay-offs tend to convey that the company is struggling. And when employees feel the company is in hot water, they’re more likely to search for work elsewhere.
Second, fear of layoffs negatively impacts employees’ perception of company culture.
Finally, smaller workforces typically result in heavier workloads for the employees that do stay behind.
This causes burnout among remaining employees, pushing even more talent out of the workplace.
The third biggest predictor of resignations may come as a surprise: high levels of innovation. The explanation for this unexpected trend is, again, company culture.
According to the report, companies that placed a large emphasis on innovation tended to have significantly lower levels of work-life balance.
The lesson here is clear: innovation cannot come at the cost of employees’ personal wellbeing outside of work. Company cultures that promote excessive workloads in the name of innovation will drive away talent.
The fourth leading driver of attrition was failure to recognize employee performance. Importantly, top-performing employees were the most likely to quit due to under-recognition.
The upshot of this is companies who don’t reward outstanding performance will lose their most outstanding employees.
Indifference towards employees’ hard work is a major sign that it’s time for culture change in the workplace.
People are the most valuable resource of any business. If their contributions are not rewarded through adequate pay, awards, growth opportunities, and other forms of recognition, you’ll lose them to the competition.
If the findings from the MIT report make anything clear, it’s that organizations cannot revert to the pre-pandemic status quo.
After nearly three years of social unrest, economic turmoil, and public health crises, employees’ needs have permanently shifted. The only appropriate response is for organizations to return to the drawing board and transform their organizational culture.
3 PRIORITIES FOR CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION IN POST-PANDEMIC WORKFORCES
Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Failure to meaningfully foster DEI is a major red flag for your company culture. In fact, in the MIT report, this was rated as a top indicator of a toxic culture.
In 2022 and beyond, DEI must be taken on in earnest and meaningfully woven into every part of your company’s practices.
More than ever before, workers expect their employers to uphold certain values, and DEI consistently ranks as a top priority for Millennials and Gen Z’s.
An organization simply cannot have a healthy culture if it does not respect diversity, promote equity, and create an inclusive environment.
But how exactly does an organization promote DEI in a modern, decentralized workforce? Here are some techniques:
Start from the top – diversify your leadership
Utilize inclusive recruitment techniques that overcome bias, such as skills-based hiring
Provide safe ways for employees to provide feedback and critiques without fear of retribution
These are just a handful of strategies an organization can use to boost DEI during culture change. It’s a place to start.
Flexible Work Arrangements
If your goal is to lead a cultural change where employees feel respected, flexible work options are imperative.
Study after study has repeatedly found that employees are more productive at home.
In addition to productivity gains, many employees report improved wellbeing with remote and hybrid work arrangements. They don’t have to face long commutes, are free from office distractions, and can exercise during breaks.
Offering hybrid work arrangements is a valuable strategy for a cultural change because it communicates that you care about your employees’ happiness and wellbeing. It also establishes a sense of mutual trust between you and your team.
Finally, flexible work arrangements have been transformative for employees with disabilities and chronic pain.
The ability to work from home gives employees more control over their environment, work equipment, social interactions, and how they expend their energy.
All these changes can drastically improve accessibility. Therefore, to create a truly inclusive workplace culture, flexibility is crucial.
But, like any culture change, a DEI-focused culture shift must be an ongoing process of self-improvement. If you take your foot off the pedal, you risk backsliding to a less inclusive culture.
Provide Opportunities For Growth & Development
When leading a culture change in the workplace, creating opportunities for employee growth and development should be a priority.
Why? It is impossible to understate the positive effect that development has on company culture and employee engagement.
94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their development, according to a LinkedIn Learning Report.
Company-sponsored social events are great, but nothing says “employee appreciation” like investing in your team’s growth and expanding their skillsets.
When you make employee training and growth a business priority, you can build a culture of continuous learning. In a culture of continuous learning, training and development is a part of every workday for every employee.
This doesn’t just mean that training is easily accessible and readily available, although consistent, high-quality training is an essential component of a learning culture.
This also means that employees are encouraged to ask questions and suggest changes that push the company forward.
It also means that training is science-based, results-driven, and uniquely tailored to everyone. Curiosity and innovation are rewarded, rather than being viewed as a threat.
Just like any aspect of company culture, learning culture is a philosophy that must be weaved into all business practices.
And yes – it is possible to shift to a culture of learning in a hybrid work environment.
In fact, technological advancements have made it easier than ever to build a culture of learning in your organization.
Investing in the right L&D technology and curriculum creates a solid foundation to shift to a culture of agile learning in a post-pandemic, hybrid working world.
Building a learning culture allows organizations and their employees to reach their full potential. Here’s a 4-step approach on to build a culture of learning.
If the Great Resignation made anything clear, it’s that the workforce’s needs have permanently shifted. And if your organization wants to attract and retain the best of the best, your culture must adapt to meet their demands.
A culture shift in the hybrid, post-pandemic workforce is not only possible – it’s a necessity.
Rather than revert to the old way of doing things, organizations should be thinking about how they can settle into a new and improved status quo. And that starts with culture.
Businesses that want to implement a culture change in the workplace should prioritize DEI efforts, flexible work arrangements, and employee development.
Want to lead a cultural transformation in your business? Contact us today to speak with our experts at RTG Solutions Group!