What happened to the water cooler? Steps to regaining corporate culture in a hybrid world.

Aug 5, 2021 | Incentives & Recognition, Rewards Programs

Maintaining corporate culture may seem easy, but it’s much harder than it looks. Now that the workplace is shifting to accommodate more remote and hybrid work environments, this difficulty will only multiply. Re-imagining corporate culture is essential as we look for guidance on how to operate in this redefined workplace with a mix of employees in the office and at home. 
The water cooler is gone, and so are the informal, face-to-face conversations that came with it. It will now be harder for colleagues to bond over stories about kids’ baseball games, granddaughters’ weddings and family adventures. As a result, management teams must be more thoughtful in building their corporate culture using new techniques. 
It is possible to regain corporate culture in a hybrid world. Here are three steps you can take:

1. Evaluate your employee perks

Perks like free lunches and in-office fitness clubs made sense in the past, but do they still apply in your new workplace? As employees move to remote or hybrid work, their needs are changing, too. You can enhance your corporate culture by tuning into these new needs and adjusting your strategy for the future. New ideas include adding ergonomics training to support your employees’ wellness goals. Or, offering stipends for employees to purchase home office equipment so they are set up for success. Additional benefits to consider include paying for childcare, home services and offering subscriptions to streaming services or delivered meal services. 

2. Performance management looks different in hybrid/remote

One of the “best practices” for effective performance management is frequent, on-going performance discussions. But, the practice of walking over to an employee’s desk to course-correct an error or to give immediate praise looks a bit different in a hybrid/remote work environment. Managers now must be more intentional to pick up the phone and call the employee, or better yet, schedule a video chat for a more face-to-face conversation. Part of effective performance management in our new world of work is to ensure employee expectations are clearly set and reiterated often so there is no miscommunication. 

3. Reward your team

Just because you don’t see your employees every day, doesn’t mean you should stop rewarding and recognizing them for a job well done. According to a Gallup poll, 68 percent of the U.S. workforce reported feeling disengaged at work, and this was a survey taken before the pandemic. 
We conducted our own study of 3,000 working adults in the U.S. using our proprietary technique, called rsX, to measure the relationship strength between employees and their companies and managers. The results are clear – employees desire recognition that’s authentic and happens often. In fact, employees stated they are 74 percent more likely to remain an employee of that company if they feel they are being properly recognized.
If you haven’t already established a rewards and recognition program, now’s the time. Successful rewards and recognition programs can not only increase employee engagement and enhance corporate culture, but they can also move the needle to improve your company’s bottom line.
The workplace is changing, and so are your employees’ expectations. Your corporate culture doesn’t have to be lost in the process. Instead, it can be amplified with the right strategy that is built around all of your employees – whether they are working in the office or at home.

Nicole Neal

Nicole Neal

Nicole Neal is a 25-year human resources professional who has focused her career on helping organizations create intentional cultures. Working with a variety of companies spanning from fast-growing technology firms to large global organizations, Nicole has shared her passion for helping employees through change while focusing on the employee experience. She is currently the EVP of Employee Xperience at One10 where she leads a team of human resources professionals tasked with fulfilling One10’s mission of creating an employee centric workplace.
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