Success factors

Finding your people: 3 secrets to a happier, more productive workplace

Published on
December 8, 2022
Elisha Dunn
Content Manager
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How can business leaders foster community and belonging in today’s highly scattered, individual-centred, and on-the-go workforce?

As the world increasingly shifts to more hybrid working environments, it now relies heavily on video calls to stay connected. 

This reduction of in-person interactions challenges every employee’s sense of community and belonging and puts them at risk of burnout, isolation, and inefficiency.

As leaders, you are tasked to foster values alignment, meaning, identity expression, and purpose in order to boost overall wellness, creativity, engagement, and productivity.

But how do you do that effectively?

In this article, we list the 3 significant challenges hybrid workforces face today and offer our best solutions to sustain a sense of true community among employees.

1) Maintaining social initiatives 

As deeply social creatures, we see the office environment as not just a space to work but also a place to create meaningful connections which enrich our quality of life. 

With the growing popularity of the work-from-home model, every business faces a new problem: maintaining every employee’s sense of community and belonging away from the office. 

So, how can leaders cater to these employees’ need for meaning, purpose, community, and belonging?

For our team, we thrive by balancing working from home and working at the office. But we know this is not feasible for others, especially for those with employees who cannot come back to the office due to personal circumstances and constraints.

One way leaders can work around this is by unpacking what that means for their employees not just for the short term, but for the long term as well.

What do you need to proactively focus on to connect employees across the company? How do you make room for connections outside work meetings? How do you encourage and reward social support?

How do you encourage knowledge and information sharing? How can you foster new ideas and energise employees’ thinking and mindsets?

What do you need to keep doing, stop doing, and improve upon to boost engagement and connection while employees are dispersed and going through different struggles?

Remember that virtual get-togethers are not enough. 

Regularly bring in visitors from other teams or companies to share their insights during meetings and vice versa. Combat groupthink by running your team’s ideas by other teams. Make time for one-on-one sessions to address individual needs.

Start lessening workloads and redistributing resources so that employees can spend time sharing ideas and expanding their networks. Establish a rewards infrastructure that offers bonuses not just for individual accomplishments, but also for helping build on others’ work.

2) Focusing on “culture fit” without undermining diversity and innovation

The growing focus on culture fit has had a bad rap, which is unwarranted. We believe the issue stems from companies misunderstanding what culture fit is, which we will clarify here.

First, organisations brush culture fit off as a “nice-to-have” rather than a necessity. In other words, an employee’s skills and expertise are considered more valuable to the brand than their sense of belongingness.

While we are not undermining the role that a highly talented workforce plays in a scale-up’s ability to grow and thrive, we have witnessed first-hand how values alignment between the employee and the organisation and/or team positively impacts how people interact and stay engaged at work.

Employees whose values align perfectly with their company express more job commitment and satisfaction, as well as less inclination to resign. Teams who show high culture fit perform better, feel safer in taking smart risks, and are more motivated to show up at work every day.

Second, organisations believe that focusing on culture fit hurts diversity. While it is easy to make this assumption, hiring for culture fit without undermining diversity is possible.

One way to do this is to strictly focus on values alignment rather than age, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity during the hiring process. Doing so results in higher value fit and higher retention.

Third, organisations seem to think that high culture fit results in lesser creative thinking and innovation because everyone is “essentially the same”. We find the opposite to be true. 

Not one person is the same, regardless if they hold the same values.

When culture fit is high, employees strongly identify with their teams. This leads to a more robust sense of psychological safety, which fosters an environment that is more proactive and welcoming of different approaches and ideas from all team members.

Even better, this paves the way to more innovation since diverse teams with the same values can productively resolve conflict and work through difficulties better since, at their core, they are all working toward the same goals.

Fourth, one of the reasons why most organisations dismiss culture fit is that they believe the process is more subjective to recruiters’ personal preferences than objective to the company’s culture. 

Again, an understandable misconception. But a misconception nonetheless. To combat bias from playing a big role in hiring, we recommend a more measured approach, which consists of four steps:

  1. Determine an unbiased measurement of the organisation’s actual values using standardised tools
  2. Once an objective appraisal has been reached, use this as a guide in assessing candidates at the hiring stage
  3. Compare how each candidate fares with the overall organisation’s culture
  4. Compare how the overall organisation’s culture and values fare with what the candidate finds important

Hiring for culture fit can seem backwards and counterintuitive. But by addressing these four misconceptions, leaders can arrive at a proper definition of what culture fit really is (and use it as a tool to gain clarity), make sure they are hiring the right people, and boost overall employee engagement, job satisfaction, and workforce retention.

3) Ensuring culture evolution

Work culture, like its societal counterpart, is the product of old values and legacies. But as relentless change disrupts the status quo, businesses are often forced to evaluate if their culture still serves them.

After all, relentless business transformation requires a culture that is not afraid to change with the times. 

As we enter a new era post-pandemic, the challenge leaders face now is how they can redefine their company cultures to address changing needs and usher in new ways of working for their employees.

Meaningful culture evolution hangs on behavioural changes that support and nurture employees’ readiness for the future of work — whatever that may mean for every industry. 

In times like this, leaders need to assess how they can help cultivate a sense of community and belonging for their employees in order to combat the negative emotions that come with uncertainty for the future.

So, ask yourself: How can I replace feelings of fear, depression, and anger with freedom, flexibility, and choice? How can I help support the development of better habits? What outdated practices do we need to replace? What do my employees value in the new normal? 

How can I help my employees show up as themselves and commit to collaborating, strategising, and decision-making despite the unknown? What programs and resources can I put in place to support change?

And, once employees take the first step toward change, how can I hold them accountable at every level?

When it comes to fostering a real tribe within the organisation despite a tricky hybrid working environment, leaders must take charge in creating space for more collaboration, creativity, and innovation by fostering higher levels of culture fit, quality of social initiatives, and likelihood of culture evolution.

Nothing ever happens overnight. But consistency and strategy play crucial roles in making it all work. How do we know? We have seen it happen for our clients.

Across industries, our team has helped increase engagement, productivity, belonging, and community in the new normal. If you want us to do the same for you, partner with us today.