In a fragile economy and a world filled with uncertainty, why are some companies growing faster than others? Do the technologies those companies choose to operate their businesses matter? Without question. Are automation innovations driving more profitable and sustainable business outcomes? Absolutely. Does more capital guarantee the acceleration of success? Not always, but having the resources to hire more talented and committed employees certainly improves the odds.
However, what I’ve seen across the span of my career is that a key component to success is employee happiness. A recent report from the O.C. Tanner Institute confirms how important this is. Employees are looking for more than just work; they want meaning and connection. According to the study, the pandemic led two-thirds of employees to reflect on their careers, with 83% saying “finding meaning in day-to-day work” was a top priority. More than two-thirds (69%) would even change jobs for more fulfillment.
As the world continues to adjust to the changes from the pandemic and ongoing economic concerns, how can organizations continue to build a strong culture and support employees’ happiness in 2023?
The 6 Vital Components For Your Workplace Culture
While the shared experiences of morning bagels, after-work drinks and employee outings have gotten rarer, remote employees still want to engage and connect with each other. Organizations that want to prioritize culture in 2023 need to understand what current and future employees want out of the workplace experience, even if it’s virtual.
Here are the six factors I believe will be most vital moving forward.
Forbes Daily: Our best stories, exclusive reporting and Forbes perspectives on the day’s top news, plus the inside scoop on the world’s most important entrepreneurs.
Context is the most important aspect of your workplace culture. When you hire a group of talented people, they want leadership that has a clear vision, and they want to understand how they fit into it. The right amount of context creates better collaboration toward that vision and a passion for the work itself.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to provide that context. Through continual communication, through channels like regular all-hands virtual meetings and email updates, you can make a huge difference. When you encourage team leaders to do the same, your employees are likely to become more engaged and motivated to contribute to the company vision.
Creating a feeling of belonging locally, regionally and globally is priceless, and sustaining that feeling requires an inclusive approach and active commitment from leaders. For example, I make it a practice to call one employee each day and ask, “What’s going on in your world? What are you thinking about?” These discussions help me signal to every employee that they belong and are valued.
At an organizational level, every company must devote time, attention and resources to diversity, equity and inclusion programs and plans. Those include providing educational and training opportunities, building community within the company and imbedding inclusion and belonging as a core tenet of employee recruitment and retention.
There are rock stars and present and future leaders among us, and I believe one of the most important skills a leader must have is the ability to scout talent. When any individual in any job goes above and beyond, thank them. How? Private praise, like an email or card, is great, but publicly shouting them out is even better. At Pax8, for example, we take time in our monthly all-hands virtual meeting to celebrate every promotion.
The link to culture may be best summed up by one of my favorite sayings: “If you see a dish in the sink, don’t complain about it. Wash it.” We must move beyond words when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs. Keeping our planet and our communities clean and safe for generations to come is everybody’s job, and organizations are in a unique position to set the example and take action. Every company can operate in ways that improve life for all, whether it’s incorporating more sustainable practices, partnering with ESG-focused organizations or creating programs that build up local communities.
Times have been tough all around, and it can be easy to get caught up in our increasingly fragmented and sometimes dark world. But having the right attitude is vital for our personal and professional lives.
I am a relentless optimist, and I spend most of my time and energy with people who have the same attitude toward life. Optimism is infectious, and it keeps cultures upbeat and employees energized. At the same time, I’m not an idealist. I know the importance of making hard and sometimes unpopular decisions when it comes to managing resources for healthy growth. Being an optimistic realist makes progress faster and growth more sustainable.
When employees know their voices are being heard, they not only feel engaged but are actually engaged. Innovations rise to the top, and the individuals who bring great ideas to the table often become future leaders in the organization. Because they deeply understand the importance of being heard, these new leaders will then continue to prioritize listening to team members. Leaders can encourage employees to speak up in a variety of ways, like physical or virtual suggestion boxes, surveys or simply asking them directly.
As we head into 2023, there will be no challenge too great to overcome for organizations with a positive, energized and authentically connected culture. The best investment that business leaders can make is hiring the best, investing in their growth and development, and recognizing and rewarding their hard work.