Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., is the Chief Marketing Officer of Simplus, an Infosys Company, and founder of Osmond Marketing.
Disconnection and workplace culture issues are pervasive as many companies struggle to adjust to, what is for many companies, a permanent hybrid workforce. And that has some executives concerned about the ramifications.
A Gartner Inc. survey found that nearly one-third of business leaders are most concerned with maintaining corporate culture, while only 13% were worried about productivity.
In my experience, the keys to a secure and productive workforce are to support wellbeing and continued education, enable emotional connection, and broaden the scope of social circles. Here’s how.
Put stock into your team.
Essentially, a healthy workforce is a productive workforce, albeit a remote one. So promoting ways for your employees to invest in their education and knowledge and share their experience with their co-workers is good for business.
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One way companies can support team wellness is to give them the time to learn about general business, together, on company time. For example, this month, we’re giving employees the opportunity to attend the Fishbowl virtual summit on work time and listen to speakers like Shark Tank’s Daymond John talk about his personal tips for growth. We’re also giving them time to build their HubSpot and Salesforce certifications with significant bonuses to show them that we’re invested in their education and careers. Our leaderboard allows them to gamify their certifications and have a fun team-building experience that way.
Companies can also pay for employee lunches and get-togethers. Because we’re largely remote, we don’t need a stocked breakroom or ping pong tables. Rather, we’ll pay for in-person experiences however the team wants to take them together. I believe that team wellness is something that needs to be done face to face, whether virtually or in person.
Build team trust through challenges.
Most companies have workflow processes that they hope encourage team development through better communication and coordination efforts. But experts know that a team can only learn to trust each other when those relationships are tested. Some of the challenges our teams have done together include escape rooms, the more traditional rope course and monthly trivia games at the company meeting each month.
Corporate leaders must create a safe, trusting environment where people can work together without fear of making a mistake.
Broaden your social scope.
Whether your company operates on-site or relies on remote workers, the practice of going to work plays a central role in people’s lives, so connections within a work culture have meaning. Here are two ways to strengthen connections in the workplace.
One lesson our team at Simplus was reminded of recently is to be sensitive to international dynamics. Simplus was recently acquired by a global strategic integration firm based in Bangalore, India. Becoming part of such a large organization (250,000!) has been a little intimidating, and it has been somewhat daunting to assimilate. Because of the pandemic, many leaders haven’t been able to meet in person, which has made it even more difficult to get to know each other.
As a result, I recently hosted a leadership get-together where the only item on the agenda was to play Jackbox Games and tell “two truths and a lie.” These simple and easy-to-host games broke the ice and got everyone laughing and having a good time. It was also very gratifying for many to see each other’s faces, albeit on Zoom. Even though some members of the team are across the world, that face-to-face dynamic, whether in person or virtually, is an essential part of team building. Thoughtful, personal, supportive interactions can transcend cultures, time zones and nationalities.
Another way to strengthen team connections in the workplace is to host a meaningful cultural event. As a woman, working at a global technology company is fantastic in many ways. Although it’s easy to get caught up in our busy lives — especially as women — we need to make a special effort to celebrate our diversity by dedicating time to purposeful activities that enhance work relationships.
To celebrate International Girlfriends Day, I hosted a virtual mixology event with a celebrity sommelier. As we invited each other into our virtual homes, the event highlighted the distinct position we hold as leaders and the individual responsibilities we carry outside of the workplace. It was fun and lighthearted. We met each other’s pets, and it was completely, delightfully unrelated to work.
At the end of the event, I received several kind messages about how much that gesture was appreciated while the strength of our teams was reinforced.
The workplace is changing, but the need for leadership that supports wellness, trust, acceptance and belonging are timeless traits of a successful workplace both on-site and online.
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Author: Amy Osmond Cook, Forbes Councils Member