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Defining company culture must be a daily activity – here’s why

Defining company culture in an organization isn’t an easy task. It can be challenging to invest energy into a topic that feels grandiose or theoretical. It’s crucially important that you do so, though; company culture plays a larger role than you might think.

What Role Does Company Culture Play At Work?

Company culture is more than just a theoretical list of values or statements. Your company is creating a culture, even if you are not actively focused on it. Culture is about:

  • The feeling an employee has when working for your organization.
  • What behavior is accepted by employees and managers at work.
  • How conflict or disagreements are handled.

Culture touches so many aspects of life at your organization. Therefore, we must take a more active approach to defining our company’s culture.

5 Reasons to Invest in Company Culture Every Day

Investing in company culture every day might feel like a massive undertaking. So, why do we need to connect on our culture, values, and vision so often? Here are some of the reasons why:

1. It’s Easy to Lose Sight Of the Company Culture You’re Trying to Build

You’ve probably heard of the phrase “out of sight, out of mind.” Company culture is a hard concept for some people to grasp. It only becomes more challenging if you aren’t spending an adequate amount of time defining and perfecting your organization’s culture.

A recent company culture story that made headlines was about the merger of Kraft and Heinz and what it did for the company culture of both organizations. Unfortunately, as companies grow, merge, and get acquired, it’s so easy to lose sight of the company culture you’re trying to build.

In the article about Kraft Heinz, a Kraft employee talked about life pre-merger. Kraft was treating its employees well with a lot of opportunities for advancement. As Kraft was acquired, the culture it had built as an individual organization was slowly eroded.

If you are not careful, it’s easy for something similar to happen to your team.

2. Culture Consistency Builds Brand and Company Loyalty

There is a brain hack called spaced repetition that dramatically improves the way your brain stores information. It works by going over the same information in a spaced, but repetitive fashion. Most people choose an hour every day to go over flashcards if they want to make the biggest impact with this method.

As an organization, you have to spend more time than once per year going over your organization’s core values and culture. Defining company culture should be a daily activity so that employees begin to understand the culture and what appropriate behavior looks like.

Put another way, you can’t act like culture doesn’t matter 300+ days out of the year. Employees need consistency to model great workplace behavior.

As you showcase your company’s culture, employees begin to understand that it’s more than just lip service on your organization’s career site. Culture becomes tangible, and it makes employees want to improve their loyalty to your organization.

As your customers become aware of your culture, you can draw new and existing customers to your brand.

3. Understanding Company Culture Helps You Make Better Decisions

Company culture isn’t just for employees. Managers and company leaders also need to understand the culture you are trying to build. Decision-making takes up a ton of mental energy for leaders who can spend hours of their time each week making decisions. When you have a clear culture, decision-making becomes effortless.

You would be surprised at the number of employers who struggle with decision-making:

Only 20 percent of respondents say their organizations excel at decision making.

McKinsey & Company

Imagine how much better leaders would be at making decisions if they had clarity about the company’s culture, mission, vision, and values. In a world where clear decision-making is critical, we need leaders who understand our organization and can step up to the plate.

4. Culture Issues Are Easier to Fix When Detected Early

Cultural misalignment at work can cause a wide array of issues for employees. If one employee gets out of alignment, they have the ability to cause employee dissatisfaction, turnover, and a negative public image for your organization.

If you let cultural issues go undetected, you are letting employees that go against your culture connect with employees and customers.

On the other hand, maybe you are creating a toxic company culture. If you go months without addressing culture, you could be perpetuating this negative experience for a long time. Addressing culture often helps you spot these issues before they get out of hand.

5. Company Culture Defines Your Organization’s Very Existence

Company culture isn’t a pie in the sky thought experiment. It’s the makeup of your entire organization’s existence. Culture isn’t always easy to spot, but it’s being created every day.

Regular culture maintenance is a necessary part of organizational growth.

We care for our culture because we care for our people.

Daily Organizational Culture Tweaks

Now that you know why you should define company culture daily, let’s walk through a few activities to help you make this a reality.

  • Highlight employees contributing to your company’s culture every morning inside your company’s communities.
  • Check-in with employees daily to let them know you are thinking of them and see if they have any issues.
  • Play a short get-to-know-you game during every daily standup meeting you have.
  • Give your employees flexibility in how they choose to work every day.
  • Encourage everyone to take daily breaks or naps to improve focus and get off the computer for a while.

You may be struggling with the thought of defining company culture every day, but this doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by defining the culture you are trying to create at work. Then, based on that, come up with a few activities you can do daily, weekly, and monthly to keep that culture top of mind for your employees.

Defining Company Culture Should Happen All the Time

Company culture isn’t something you define once and then put on a shelf. Leaders need to find ways to connect with employees. We have to address culture daily.

Without this extra step, it’s easy for employees or leaders to go back to their old ways. If you want employees to follow your culture, you have to keep it top of mind.

Are you looking for a way to improve company culture at your organization? Read our article about how employee communities drive positive company culture. If you are ready to invest in employee communities, reach out to us at hello@workrowd.com to see if our tool can serve your organization’s needs.

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7 strategies for building an inclusive culture in 2021

Creating an inclusive culture continues to be important, especially for employees who belong to the millennial and Gen Z generations. It’s becoming increasingly clear that inclusivity has a positive effect on an organization’s bottom line, but what strategies can organizations use to take diversity to the next level? Today, we are discussing the inclusive culture strategies your organization can use to improve in 2021 (and beyond.)

What Does It Mean to Build an Inclusive Culture?

Having an inclusive culture is about more than hiring diverse employees. Inclusivity goes beyond the mere presence of minority groups.

Inclusive cultures celebrate and empower minority workers with well-paying jobs, fair and equal promotion opportunities, and the feeling that they belong at the organization.

Culture matters. Company leaders can’t expect to retain underrepresented hires without deeply committing to their culture and how they treat diverse groups.

7 Inclusive Culture Strategies Your Company Can Utilize

Going beyond hiring diverse employees takes time and energy. It’s not an overnight success, especially for organizations with a small number of minority employees at the outset. Accordingly, here are seven strategies you can start with to improve the culture at your organization.

1. Go Beyond Black/White Thinking

First, we have to move past black and white thinking when it comes to diversity and inclusion at work. Many organizations depend too heavily on having one single diverse population represented. It’s important to go beyond black/white thinking or male/female thinking.

Hiring a lot of black employees or several women doesn’t necessarily make your organization diverse or inclusive.

Inclusivity is more than black/white. There are other ways to create an inclusive workplace for different groups of people. For instance, diversity exists across:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Educational Attainment

Consider these different dimensions of diversity as you are looking at candidates and interviewing. Keep all of your organization’s types of diversity in mind as you are planning holidays, creating social media content, and developing employee resource groups.

2. Celebrate Employee Differences

You might hire employees from diverse backgrounds, but are those employees able to be themselves? Do they spend more time assimilating than bringing their unique experiences to the table?

You’d be surprised how many people don’t feel comfortable being themselves at work. Speaker and writer Jodi-Ann Burey recently gave a fantastic TED Talk about the myth of bringing your full, authentic self to work that summarizes many of the issues diverse groups face around opening up at work.

Your employees might celebrate different holidays, wear different clothing to work, or choose to bring someone you wouldn’t expect to the company family day.

Are you able to accept and celebrate all the different ways your employees might choose to show up at work? Creating an inclusive culture allows you to celebrate and learn from your employees’ different cultural and personal beliefs.

3. Ensure Buy-In From All Directions

Typically, organizations consider buy-in from leaders and managers, but top-down buy-in won’t cut it when it comes to inclusivity.

Employees interact with a wide array of people every single day. For example, customers, colleagues, managers, and even investors might interact with your employees.

If managers are the only people who have expressed buy-in, you might open diverse employees up to many micro and macro-aggressions at work.

4. Define & Check-In on Goals, Not Quotas

For many organizations wanting to invest in inclusion, their first thought is to set quotas for the hiring process. For example, they may choose to set a quota for the number of minority candidates who turn in resumes or the number of interviews held.

Quotas without the work of actually hiring more diverse candidates are just a waste of the candidate’s time and your own. Candidates want to feel like they have a shot at joining your organization, not like a quota checkbox.

Get specific about what a diverse and inclusive organization would look like. Create SMART goals around diversifying your organization and creating an inclusive culture at work. Go beyond quota filling to create the best company culture.

5. Focus on Creating Training Moments Year-Round

Are you spending your time creating one diversity and inclusion training per year? While this is a great gesture and start to improving D&I at your organization, it’s easy for your initiatives to get swept under the rug if you are only addressing the situation once per year.

Instead, you can create smaller monthly or quarterly trainings for employees to keep your diversity work top of mind. Consider hosting town halls about diversity at work, sharing details about diverse holidays, and celebrating heritage/recognition months as they come up.

Connecting with employees about diversity topics throughout the year will make everyone more educated on related topics.

6. Learn From Other Organizations Who Value Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)

One of the best parts about HR work is that you can learn from others. Other human resources professionals are dealing with (or have dealt with) all the issues you are currently facing at work. You can lean on other HR professionals to learn from their mistakes and successes.

By connecting with others, you can implement their strategies to create a more inclusive culture at your organization.

One way you can do this is by joining a network like the Global ERG Network. This cross-company community is a fantastic opportunity for employee ERG leaders to access best practice templates and toolkits, monthly learning events, and 24/7 networking and knowledge sharing with peers.

7. Think About the Outward Work

Many organizations start claiming their inclusion success too early, but never claiming it at all isn’t the answer either.

Potential candidates need to see the work that you are doing to improve diversity and inclusion at your organization.

Here are some ways to do inclusion work outwardly:

  • Plan social media campaigns about diverse holidays.
  • Spotlight diverse employees in brochures and company publications.
  • Feature diverse faces in your company’s marketing material.
  • Donate to and partner with diverse organizations.
  • Publicly support causes and political legislation that uplift diverse groups.

Creating an Inclusive Culture Takes Time

You won’t be able to transform your culture overnight. There are no quick fixes when it comes to inclusivity. By following these steps, you will slowly win over your organization and make inclusivity the standard.

If you are looking to create a more inclusive culture through employee networks, we’re the perfect partner. Email us at hello@workrowd.com to see if we’re the right fit for your organization.

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5 ways to help your office culture rebound after the pandemic

Employees have gone through a lot in the last year. As companies begin to get back into the office, you might have a culture problem. Transitions back to life as usual can’t happen overnight. We must give our employees ample time to get used to the commute, water cooler conversation, and dressing up for the office again. If your employees are struggling with office life, there are several things you can do to improve your office culture. 

What Impact Did The Pandemic Have on Office Culture?

So, what impact did the pandemic have on office culture?

When we think about traditional workplace culture, a lot of our memories start with the office. From general water cooler conversations to lunch with our colleagues, we spent a lot of time in the office pre-pandemic.

In early 2020, many companies shifted their work completely. Companies pivoted to working from home, and more silos formed as we went to virtual communication like Slack and Zoom meetings.

Companies had to learn to restructure communication and benefits that were tied to the office (e.g. free lunches.) The pandemic truly changed the way that we worked. Some companies plan to stay remote forever.

With all the rapid changes we had to make, it’s no wonder the pandemic impacted office culture.

5 Ways to Help Your Office Culture Rebound After the Pandemic

It’s easy to understand why the pandemic has changed office culture in the last year. Knowing this, how do we deal with the fallout of the pandemic when it comes to office culture? Well, you can start with these five activities:

Set Proper Expectations About Office Culture as Employees Return to Work

Before anyone steps foot back in the office, you have to start by setting proper expectations about what office life will look like as employees return to work.

Set expectations about:

  • Mask guidelines
  • Social distancing protocols
  • Cleaning frequency
  • Testing
  • Office gatherings and events

Write all of these policies down and put them in a place where every employee can see them. As employees go back to the office, ask them to acknowledge your office guidelines before returning to work.

Ease Back Into Office Life

Many employees have been working from home for more than a year. Getting back into the grind of daily office life isn’t going to be easy for people.

In fact, some people are choosing to quit their job instead of going back to work. The thought of a mass exodus of employees is pretty scary, especially because filling empty positions is so difficult right now.

Don’t ask employees to flip the switch automatically. Come up with a plan that slowly gets people back in the office.

For example, you might choose to create a hybrid work plan where employees can choose to come in the number of days they want. Many employers have even decided to utilize a desk sharing model where employees reserve a desk if they are in the office.

We have to understand how badly we need employees in a physical office. Is it worth the commute and upset employees to require their physical presence? Or is there another option where we give employees the ability to work from an office if it works for them (e.g. downsizing the office or using coworking spaces)?

Consider Ways to Bring Back Pre-Pandemic Traditions Safely

What did the office look like pre-pandemic? Did you offer free lunch or workout Wednesdays? For many employees, the best part of office life was the perks they got for being there.

Are you bringing employees back to the office without thinking about the benefits of returning? If so, it’s time to plan this part of office life.

To make things safer, you’ll likely need to change some aspects of those pre-pandemic traditions. For example, lunches might need to be individually packaged, and workout Wednesdays will need to be socially distanced.

Going back to the office after the pandemic doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch on office traditions. Ease back into holding these traditions regularly to rebound office culture quickly.

Set Up Employees With Weekly Office Buddies

If your company is like most with turnover and hiring new employees, it’s likely that many team members haven’t had the chance to get to know one another.

If you are looking for a way to rebound office culture, start small by assigning weekly office buddies. Encourage office buddies to connect over a meal or a joint project one day during the week. You can even set weekly ice breakers to get the conversation flowing.

Here are some ice breaker questions to get you started:

  • What was the last thing that made you smile/laugh/feel excited?
  • Where do you want to be in life or your career five years from now?
  • What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? How did you get started with that hobby?
  • What’s the next destination on your travel bucket list? Why do you want to go there?
  • If you could change one thing about your favorite book/movie/television show, what would it be and why?
  • What is your favorite place in the city? How did you find out about the place?
  • If you could create a super job featuring all of your favorite work activities, what would that job be?

Ask For and Utilize Employee Feedback

Last but not least, one of the best ways to rebound office culture is to talk to your staff and get their opinion. Gathering and utilizing employee feedback is one of the best ways to understand what your team needs from you.

Create a confidential survey using a tool like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. Ask all your burning office culture questions and request that employees fill out the survey.

After receiving all your responses, synthesize the information for employees and tell them what you will do about it. Employees can get tired of surveys quickly, especially if they don’t feel that managers are hearing them. Ensure that you close the feedback loop and make any necessary adjustments.

Conclusion

Getting back into the office is going to be challenging for even the most seasoned employees. As an organization leader, it’s your duty to guide employees to speak up for what they need and advocate for your organization at the same time. It’s a tricky balancing act, but it can be done when you make sure to keep active listening top of mind.

If you are looking for more information on hybrid workforces, check out our free hybrid workforce engagement guide. Reach out to us at hello@workrowd.com to see if building employee communities with Workrowd is the best way to engage your employees in and out of the office.

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The purpose of employee resource groups in the workplace

Employee resource groups or ERGs play a massive role in the company culture of many medium- to large-sized organizations. Over the last year, several large companies like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Justworks have decided to pay ERG leaders additional salaries. You may be wondering about the purpose of employee resource groups, so we’re here today to share why these company groups are so vital.

What Is an Employee Resource Group?

An employee resource group (also called an employee affinity group) is a collection of employees who support and learn from each other. These groups form for different minority groups to come together and connect about workplace issues.

You may see ERGs form to support women, people of color, people with disabilities, working parents, LGBTQIA employees, and so much more. As your company grows, your ERGs can become more diverse and helpful to your employees.

What Is the Purpose of Employee Resource Groups?

ERGs provide so much to the modern workplace. Let’s go through a list of how these groups contribute to companies across the world.

ERGs Provide a Sense of Community for Employees

As your team grows, it can become difficult for new employees to feel connected to your organization.

Did you know that 40% of workers say they feel isolated at work? In companies without ERGs, boosting this number can fall squarely on HR and people managers. 

Companies with ERGs can use these groups as resources. HR leaders can help connect employees who feel disconnected by encouraging them to join ERGs that fit their needs.

In the end, you could reap some amazing belongingness benefits, like a 167% increase in your employee Net Promoter Score.

ERGs Encourage Cross-Departmental Relationship Building

When you are building a large company, silos between departments are bound to form. Marketing will hang out with marketing, sales with sales, and so on down the line. It’s much easier to make friends with someone who understands what you do and speaks the same language. Departmental silos aren’t great for organizations that need each department to communicate seamlessly to get work done.

Employee resource groups are department neutral. It’s all about bringing people together, no matter their background. So, for example, your marketing personnel will end up with friends across the company.

The next time you have a huge project that requires employees from different departments, members of your ERGs will be excited to team up with work friends they probably don’t get to see daily.

ERGs Help Your Employees Feel Heard and Valued

Employee resource groups are a fantastic source of information. Your employees might feel small or lost in the crowd. ERGs create smaller sections of your company where more voices can be heard.

You can:

  • Survey your ERGs for suggestions
  • Hold town halls
  • Have productive meetings with ERG leaders on changes you can make to improve their experience

If you engage your ERGs and show them you value their opinions, you can get a lot done while showing employees across the company how much you appreciate them. You won’t have time to do this on a one-to-one basis, so employee affinity groups help you do this efficiently.

ERGs Can Help You and Your Team Solve Problems Quickly

Once employees feel united and confident in what they need at work, they can help you solve ERG-related issues more quickly.

For example, maybe the parents in your organization feel like they constantly have to choose between going home to be with their families and advancing their careers due to the number of after-work activities your company runs.

In a world without ERGs, parents might have silently thought about this or even shared it with a work friend. Silos of working parents at your organization might have discussed this issue, but they wouldn’t have done anything significant with the information.

This lack of organization might have led some of your best employees to seek work at other companies or stew in their resentment about their lack of career advancement.

The scenario we shared is not unimaginable. According to Pew Research, 27% of working parents shared that being a mother or father stopped them from advancing in their careers.

So, what happens with an employee resource group? Working parents would be able to come together and share their thoughts about how being a parent has affected their job. At the very least, they would feel less alone. Plus, they may even be able to come to HR and suggest changing some of the policies for after-work activities.

Employee affinity groups give your employees more power. Some organization leaders may fear this ability to connect and organize. Innovative organizations realize that ERGs give you the opportunity to fix workplace issues before they spiral into resentment or turnover. Giving up a bit of power is priceless when you recognize the effect these groups can have on retention and engagement.

ERGs Help You Hold Events That Bring Your Company Together

Workplace events can be challenging to plan, especially if you put all of the events on your company’s HR leader or event planner. Employee resource groups can help you plan events to celebrate Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and PRIDE Month

If you want to plan educational and fun events for these months or holidays anyway, why not give the budget to ERGs to help you plan and create these events? It’s the perfect way to let ERG members know that you value them and their experiences at your company.

There Is a Significant Purpose Behind Employee Resource Groups

There is a reason that organizations like LinkedIn are finding value in employee resource groups. These groups can drive employee engagement and provide a sense of belonging that many companies are missing.

As your organization grows its employee database, think about ways that you can bring your employees together and help build diversity and inclusion within your company.

Are you looking to leverage the power of employee resource groups at your organization? Look no further than Workrowd. If you want to empower ERG leaders with shared learning, you can check out the Global ERG Network. Connect with us at hello@workrowd.com to see if we’re right for your organization.

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Employee-led learning & why a bottom-up approach works

Employee-led learning has a lot of potential benefits; is your organization taking advantage of them? From catering to different learning styles to lowering the burden on human resources and learning and development departments, this alternate approach to the more traditional, top-down processes can revolutionize how your organization reaches its training goals. Why limit these benefits to just training, though? Employee-led learning can help with engagement, retention, and more, but how about empowering your team members to grow a wholly employee-led culture?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll definitely say it again: the transition to hybrid work represents an incredibly exciting opportunity to transform the way workplaces work for people. Rather than returning to ‘business as usual’, we can instead imagine a new way of doing that delivers a world-class employee experience to every worker, no matter where they’re based. Shifting more of our processes to be employee-led rather than top-down can help us get there, and quickly, too. In the following sections, we’ll outline what’s been demonstrated so far around the outcomes of employee-led learning, then discuss ways to encourage more employee-led efforts throughout your organization.

How employee-led learning can help you achieve your training goals

Way back in 2017, McKinsey estimated that 375 million workers (14% of the global workforce) would have to change their occupations or acquire new skills prior to 2030 due to advances in technology and automation. In the early, pre-pandemic days of 2020, they further reported that 87% of executives were already experiencing skills gaps or expected to within a few years. Unfortunately, at that time fewer than half of the respondents had a plan to address the problem, and the pandemic has only accelerated the issue.

During the pandemic, employees had to adapt to a lot of new changes virtually overnight. While some companies engaged in extensive training to ensure that everyone was up-to-speed, many employees had to self-train on a number of fronts. Although live walkthroughs can help, employees who had to use new software every day in order to complete job functions that previously occurred in person had to learn as they went along in most cases. Essentially, remote working has been hailed as “an overwhelming success for employers”, and much of the learning process was employee-led as workers retreated to their homes and sorted out the logistics on their own. We already know this can work, and with asynchronous working expected to become the norm post-pandemic, live, company-wide, in-person training is really no longer viable. That’s where employee-led learning comes in.

As a final point, the recruiting firm Hays surveyed 23,000 respondents and found that while many are certainly seeking specific knowledge and expertise, the top skills employers are looking for are soft skills. This was true as far back as 2018, though. When LinkedIn Learning published their 2018 Workplace Learning Trends Report, their findings showed that the most in-demand skills were leadership, communication, collaboration, and only then role-specific skills. Unsurprisingly, training for these soft skills was the most important focus for talent development efforts as well.

From the employee side, the data also showed that 68% of employees prefer to learn at work, 58% of them prefer to learn at their own pace, and 49% prefer to learn at the point of need. In other words, employees want to learn, and they want to be able to direct their own learning so that they can learn what they need when they need it. This makes sense given that 94% of employees say they would stay with an employer longer if the company invested in their career, but their main reason for not learning as much as they’d like is that they don’t have the time. Converting to an employee-led learning approach meets all of these employee needs and empowers team members to work on difficult topics like soft skills in an environment in which, and at a time when they feel comfortable.

How to integrate more employee-led initiatives into your post-pandemic workplace

Now that we’ve explored why employee-led learning makes sense, all that’s left is to find the right systems to enable it at your organization, right? That may be the best choice for you at this point however, why not consider taking things a step or two further? Why should learning have all the employee-led fun? Below, we’ve listed a handful of other ways you can integrate employee-led efforts into your employee experience.

  • Employee resource groups/affinity networks. ERGs are one of the most obvious employee-led efforts you can integrate into your strategy. This employee-led approach dates all the way back to the 1960s, and can confer a wide array of benefits. ERGs are typically part of an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, but affinity networks in general can be expanded to encompass many different employee needs and interests. By empowering employees to form groups around identities, interests, or needs that are important to them, you can deliver a more tailored employee experience that meets more employees’ needs without increasing your overhead. Employee-led communities can help better support working parents, assist with mental health needs, or just provide social and/or recreational opportunities with colleagues, so they can create a great deal of value across the organization.
  • Innovation. Companies like Google understand that if you give your employees space to innovate, your organization will ultimately come out on top. Their ‘20-percent time’ policy, in which employees are allotted 20% of their workweek to focus on projects they believe will benefit Google, has spawned such advances as Google News, AdSense, and Gmail. Innovation is crucial to staying on the cutting edge of any industry, and if you’ve hired well, you likely have an untapped brain trust languishing amongst your employee ranks. Make the most of that resource! In addition to employee-led learning, employee-led innovation efforts can supercharge your company’s products and services and help you succeed in the long-term. If Google’s approach seems like too much to start off with, consider giving employees one day per month to work on bottom up innovation projects with their colleagues. Still too daunting? Even running hackathons once or twice per year for employee-led innovations can make a radical difference in whether your company remains a leader, or falls behind.
  • Social impact. As we recently discussed on this blog, social impact is extremely important to employees, and even more so after the pandemic. Why should you invest time and money in top-down fundraising or service activities though, when many employees may not be interested in the cause you chose? Instead, empowering employee-led impact efforts can ensure higher levels of team buy-in alongside greater payoff in terms of engagement and retention as employees get to support organizations whose work they are truly passionate about. Plus, your company will benefit from a significantly stronger employer brand boost as employees post and talk about the great charity work they get to do as part of their jobs.
  • COVID-19 safety. Returning to the office in whole or in part represents uncharted territory for every company. Why not involve your employees in your planning and execution to ensure your return is a success? Taking an employee-led approach to COVID-19 safety entails asking employees their opinions on when and how to return, integrating them into the work of deciding on processes and policies, and having volunteers ready to help out on the ground as employees come back on site. You’ll need employee buy-in to make this effort a success either way; you might as well involve them in all aspects of the process to lighten some of the burden on you.

Employee-led learning has been around for years, and it’s because it offers a flexible framework within which every team member is given the tools they need to succeed. As we envision a whole new world of work though, why wouldn’t we apply this intuitive framework to more initiatives such as diversity, equity, and inclusion; innovation; social impact; and more? It can be daunting to imagine putting more power in the hands of employees, but it can also be liberating as it frees you up to spend your time on more pressing matters. If you’re interested in exploring the employee-led approach but would like to start off with some guardrails, we invite you to check out Workrowd’s platform. We’ve got a central hub for all the initiatives employees can get involved in, but we’ve also included straightforward administrator settings and on-demand analytics so you can always monitor how things are going. If you’d like to learn more, drop us a line at hello@workrowd.com; we’d love to hear from you.

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Starting an ERG – how to build a strong foundation

Starting an ERG can be daunting if it’s your company’s first resource group. Even if your organization already has a handful of groups, if there’s no documented process for starting a new one, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Luckily, a lot of brave ERG leaders have come before you and paved the way for more companies to launch these crucial initiatives. If your organization is exploring the idea of starting an ERG for the first time, we want to congratulate you on this exciting step. There’s a reason why virtually every Fortune 500 company currently offers employee resource groups: they’re a crucial component of an effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy. By learning more about starting an ERG, you’re demonstrating a commitment to advancing DEI at your organization, which will pay off for both your people and your bottom line.

Employee resource groups, commonly referred to as ERGs, are employee-led collectives of colleagues oriented around shared identities, needs, interests, or other commonalities. Most frequently, you’ll see these associations organized around attributes like race or gender, but they can also support groups like parents and caregivers, veterans, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. Whether you already have a sense of which ERGs you want to launch first, or if you’re still at the stage of figuring out what sort of ERG(s) to begin with, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll lay out some of the foundational steps to starting an ERG to help you get acclimated and set your group(s) up for success. Don’t forget that the Global ERG Network is here as a resource for you as well, with free templates and events available on our website in addition to the members only content and sessions we provide.

Useful data points to help you make your case for starting an ERG

As with any business effort, you will likely be asked to make your case as to why starting an ERG is a worthwhile decision for your company. The impact of ERGs can vary widely depending on how the groups are run and what their goals are, so there’s not currently a massive body of evidence around the direct effect of employee resource groups on companies’ bottom lines. Luckily, we know simply from human psychology that effective ERGs are key drivers of diversity, equity, and inclusion; engagement; retention; and more, so we can look to statistics from these areas to make the business case for starting an ERG.

On a more foundational level though, we can see why ERGs make good sense for employees’ wellbeing. Throughout life, people seek out groups of peers who share similar interests, needs, identities, backgrounds, and more. Consider afterschool activities, university clubs, and community groups as examples. Translating these communities into the workplace can only confer benefits as people feel more included and empowered to bring their full selves and full array of talents to the table. In the absence of these safe, inclusive spaces, employees from underrepresented communities have no support system in the face of daily episodes of exclusion. As these episodes mount, employees often internalize them as trauma, preventing them from doing their best work. Epigenetic coach Rajkumari Neogy states, ‘Every single time [employees are excluded], interrupt[ed], or dismiss[ed] in some way, you are shutting down the part of their brain that is making you money.” Inclusion should be a top priority for every executive, and starting an ERG (or several) is a direct route to increasing inclusion for underrepresented employees.

What’s more, ERGs are key recruitment and retention mechanisms, and not just for minority talent either. A survey found that 70% of respondents would be more likely to apply for a job at a company that offered ERGs, and 50% said they would remain at a company that had ERGs rather than leaving for one that didn’t. This is crucial as diverse companies see 2.3 times higher cash flow than their competitors. Diverse companies are also 70% more likely to capture new markets. The financial case is clear. Employee resource groups increase diversity and inclusion, which in turn boosts revenue. Starting an ERG should be a no-brainer, but if you need more justification, check out our post on diversity and inclusion statistics here, or send us a note at hello@workrowd.com and we’ll be happy to share more information.

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5 foundational steps to set you up for success when starting an ERG

Now you should have a solid basis for why starting an ERG makes sense for your company, so that you can make a strong case to your company’s leadership. The next step is to look at your implementation plan, because while the ‘why’ is important, your colleagues are likely going to want to know about the ‘how’, too. Below we‘ve listed the first five steps you should take when looking towards starting an ERG. If you think we left anything out, let us know in the comments!

  1. Poll your colleagues. ERGs are typically employee-led, so it’s crucial that you engage your colleagues from day zero. ERGs are not something that should be launched at employees, but instead something that must be launched with employees. If you decide what group(s) you’re launching without engaging employees first, you’re already setting your ERG up for a reduced likelihood of success. Talk to employees. Put together a survey with a list of potential ERGs to find out how many people would be interested in joining each one. Don’t deliver the news that you’re starting an ERG from the top down, but position it as a whole company initiative, where anyone and everyone can get involved.
  2. Identify your employee champions. Once you understand which ERGs have the most interest and how many you want to begin with, find your evangelists. Your fledgling ERGs need employee buy-in to get off the ground, and the best way to cultivate interest is to have promotion efforts come from fellow employees rather than from HR or the executive team. You may already have a culture champion or two in mind, or you may want to make an announcement that you’re looking for launch team volunteers. Alternatively, you can include a request for volunteers in your survey from step one to find people who are interested. A key point here though is to make sure that you’re only involving true volunteers. Don’t pressure your employees from underrepresented backgrounds to take on the emotional labor of starting an ERG if they’re not interested. It is not their responsibility. It is your responsibility to remember that they already have a lot on their plates and you cannot and should not ask more of them than what they are genuinely interested in doing.
  3. Get executive buy-in with a committed sponsor. Even if you’ve already made your case to the executive team and gotten their endorsement, you still need to take one more step to ensure they remain engaged and prioritize the success of your ERG: secure an executive sponsor. Executive sponsors deliver several points of value to your ERG: 1. They advocate for your needs with the executive team and ensure you have access to the resources you need; 2. They offer a networking benefit to members through direct access to a very senior-level colleague; 3. They build credibility for your ERG throughout the rest of the organization. Things to look for in a sponsor include an interest in the focus of your community, the ability to commit time each quarter to supporting your efforts, and a genuine belief in the value of your ERG. An engaged executive sponsor can make a huge difference in the level of success your ERG achieves, so choose wisely.
  4. Share the news. You’ve laid the groundwork, now it’s time to let everyone know that you’re starting an ERG! One of the goals of employee resource groups is to increase inclusion, so make sure that you’re spreading the word in inclusive ways and reaching everyone. You should distribute the message through as many channels as possible, and encourage those interested to join. It can help to explain a bit about the high-level goals of your group and the type of programming you may offer in order to convince people why they should become members. Don’t forget to leverage the champions you identified in step two to amplify your message. Consider putting together a Google form or similar tool for collecting interest so you know how you’re doing and where you might need to focus your recruitment efforts more intently. Additionally, this will start to build your email list for easy follow-up with your members.
  5. Draw up your group charter. Now you’ve got your group(s) identified, your informal employee leaders in place, your executive sponsor on board, and the beginnings of a member list; it’s time to formalize. Assembling a group charter is a crucial step to ensure that your group survives employees and executives coming in and out. Your charter is where you codify your leadership committee structure and members, identify your short, medium, and long-term goals, detail how you will track and manage your group, outline the transition plan if and when leaders leave, and more. It’s important to have these objectives and expectations established from the outset, so you’re not scrambling when something changes.

Starting an ERG can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’d like templates, toolkits, activity guides, and more, we encourage you to check out Workrowd’s ecosystem. For those looking to streamline their ERG marketing, management, and measurement in-house, our user-friendly platform makes it easy to fulfill all three of these objectives under one roof. Our platform offers a central hub for all your ERGs to promote transparency and connection for every employee no matter where they work, plus straightforward administrator settings for easy oversight. What’s more, Workrowd comes equipped with templates and activity guides to support your employee leaders to succeed, as well as automated surveys and real-time analytics so you always know how each ERG is performing.

You can also take a look at our cross-company learning community, the Global ERG Network (GEN). GEN aims to prevent employee leaders from having to constantly reinvent the wheel by providing best practice templates and toolkits, monthly virtual events, and 24/7 networking and knowledge-sharing with peers. It’s a turnkey solution for offering employees more support on important diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, and is suitable for organizations at any stage of building their ERGs. Our member base is growing rapidly, so there’s no reason to wait; visit https://www.globalergnet.com today for more information.

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How to empower employees to make hybrid working a success

After more than a year of mandatory remote working, reopening offices is now an option for many organizations. The good news is that four out of five companies plan to offer employees some degree of flexibility around how frequently they have to be on site. While this is a great decision in terms of employee experience, the downside is that the transition to hybrid workplaces may be even messier than the whirlwind switch to home offices. New legal concerns seem to crop up each day, different teams want different policies, and many of the traditional pillars of culture and engagement are now off the table. Luckily, there’s one approach that any company can take to overcome these obstacles and thrive in the era of hybrid work. By learning how to empower employees, organizations can tackle challenges not just from the top down, but from the bottom up as well, drastically increasing their likelihood of success.

Figuring out how to empower employees may sound daunting, but it can actually be achieved in a handful of very straightforward ways. What’s more, now is the perfect time to transition to a more employee-driven culture, given that you’ll have to establish new cultural norms anyway as team members return to the office in various configurations. A number of your employees may be meeting for the first time, and many will have to re-meet each other after being apart for more than a year. Plus, your entire employee population is changed since the beginning of 2020. We’ve all been through a lot, some more than others, and you cannot expect people to just show up in the office and pick back up as if nothing happened. In other words, resuming ‘business as usual’ isn’t an option no matter how you cut it, so you might as well seize this opportunity to figure out how to empower employees for maximum benefit.

What does it mean to empower employees

The traditional workplace model is not designed to empower employees. In fact, many aspects are designed to actively disempower employees. Consider factories where workers are assigned to do a small task over and over, or are charged with churning out a certain number of products in a certain timeframe in order to retain their jobs. These workplaces are structured to keep employees anxious and isolated so that they won’t protest their treatment or substandard conditions. In part, this is what contributed to the rise of the Labor Movement in the U.S.

While the days of factories full of violations may seem long gone, we have seen similar dynamics exposed in office work as part of the transition to remote working. Recent studies show that at least 20% of companies are using software to monitor employees as they work from home. Even today, many organizations operate in an extremely top-down manner, where employees are not trusted or given autonomy to do their best work. These issues can occur at any level of the organization, from the C-suite on down to line managers, and they create an environment where employees are actively disempowered.

Employee empowerment means equipping every team member with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and having the confidence that they will get their work done in a timely manner and to a high standard. The results speak for themselves. Empowered employees are 67% more likely to put in extra effort on the job. What’s more, 70% of employees rank empowerment as being important to their ability to remain engaged and productive. In fact, highly empowered employees show engagement levels in the 79th percentile, while disempowered employees fall into the 24th percentile. Empowerment means setting your employees up to learn, grow, and make a difference at your company. Wouldn’t you rather get the most out of your talent, rather than limiting them while also wasting time and money on making sure they don’t break out of their cubes?

How to empower employees as we navigate the new world of hybrid work

Now that you know why it’s in your company’s best interest to empower your team members rather than micromanage them, it’s time to talk about how to empower employees. What are the actual steps you can take as you look towards reopening offices? Below we’ve listed some of the top strategies for empowering employees and transforming your culture from the inside out:

  1. Solicit input early and often. Employees who feel that their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. If your boss never asked for your input and dismissed any feedback you tried to provide, would you feel like you were able to make a difference in your organization? Soliciting feedback from employees as frequently as possible, and actually taking their suggestions into account is crucial to empowering your workforce. Returning to the workplace presents a key opportunity to ask for employees’ input on what they’re comfortable with, what they would prefer, and how the company can help. Once you’ve made a decision, be sure to also explain why, including how employee feedback may have factored into the process.
  2. Offer ample opportunities for growth. If you’re not providing ways for employees to grow and learn, they won’t feel they’re able to reach their full potential with your organization. With the transition to a hybrid workplace, this includes offering trainings on how to stay at your best while your team is distributed and other relevant topics. As you settle in, ensure that your learning opportunities are accessible to all team members, no matter where they work. This way, every employee will feel valued and empowered to utilize and expand upon the full extent of their skills.
  3. Empower managers and teach them how to empower others. Managing people is hard. Managing people through a pandemic, then into a whole new world of work is even harder. Make sure your managers have the tools to succeed. This means teaching them how to ensure that things are equitable across their team, especially if some employees are on-site while others remain at home. Have them discuss how team members prefer to receive feedback, both positive and negative, and train them in the best ways of having these crucial conversations. Emphasize that they should be empowering their employees, and mirroring strategies used in their own trainings to spread this dynamic throughout the organization.
  4. Create dedicated spaces for serendipitous connections. Employees can’t live up to their full potential if they’re stuck alone in their home offices with no way to interact with colleagues outside of meetings and beyond their own teams. Now that you can no longer rely on passing interactions in the hallway and/or the ability to drop by someone’s desk, you need to make a concerted effort to develop company culture in a space that’s accessible to all employees. This inevitably means going digital, but it has to be in a separate space than where your team members are getting hit with infinite stressors. Create a digital water cooler, and consider orienting it around employee communities so your people can drive key outcomes for you on issues like social impact, innovation, diversity, equity, and inclusion and more at the same time that they’re building key relationships. Empowering your employees to drive culture and engagement from the ground up will pay off in spades across loyalty, productivity, employer branding, and more.
  5. Back off. Let your employees do their jobs. Don’t try to set up elaborate monitoring and oversight schemes to make sure they’re doing their work. Establish strong relationships between managers and team members where there’s a clear and regular reporting structure, and ensure lines of communication are open at all times. Then, trust your employees to get the job done. Nothing facilitates disempowerment faster than showing employees you either don’t think they can do their job, or don’t believe that they will without hand-holding. Adopt an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mentality where you assume employees will deliver until they demonstrate otherwise, and you’ll find that the majority will meet and even exceed your expectations. Those who don’t might not be players you want on your team anyway, so it’s better to find out the easy way than to try to force a fit where none exists.

Most workplaces were intentionally designed to disempower employees, but we’ve got a golden opportunity right now to change the game. Learning how to empower employees and designing your post-pandemic workplace around that ideal can do wonders for your team members, your company culture, and your bottom line. If you’re looking for tools to assist you in this effort, look no further than Workrowd, a dedicated employee empowerment platform. Enable your team members to connect seamlessly across business units, and spin up new events and programs that drive business outcomes. Drop us a line at hello@workrowd.com if you’d like to learn more.

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3 reasons why it’s important to celebrate Pride at work

As you look around at all the rainbows popping up this month, you may be wondering why so many companies embrace this occasion and show up to support the LGBTQIA+ community, at least on a superficial level. It’s a good question, especially when there are myriad other issues that companies don’t endorse in nearly as public of a manner. There are many factors behind this dynamic, some of which are grounded in deep, systemic issues within our society, and others of which vary from company to company. Ultimately though, regardless of their reasons, every organization should recognize and champion their employees from underrepresented communities every day of the year and especially during these designated months of visibility. LGBTQIA+ folx continue to be persecuted each and every day around the world, so the more companies that openly celebrate Pride at work, the better.

Making the decision to celebrate Pride at work isn’t just good for the LGBTQIA+ community, though. While many big name companies have already made their stances known, there are many more who may still be unsure whether or not they should speak out and/or plan events for their employees. For those organizations in the latter camp, we strongly encourage you to do so. Taking steps to celebrate Pride at work, even in a small way, can pay off in droves for your employees and your brand alike. Here we’ve assembled our top three reasons why you should celebrate Pride at work.

What it looks like to celebrate Pride at work

Despite the bright colors of the Pride flag, celebrating Pride at work doesn’t have to be a flashy undertaking. You don’t have to ask people to wear rainbow clothing or hold an over-the-top event. If you’re looking to celebrate Pride at work, you can focus on more understated, but meaningful acts, such as educating team members about why and how to use pronouns, and updating your company email signature template to encourage people to specify which pronouns they use. You can also spotlight team members who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, not for their affiliation, but for all their achievements and interests regardless of that piece of their identity. Highlighting the incredible diversity of talents among those who identify as LGBTQIA+ can help shift the focus away from tokenization and towards true inclusion.

All that said, if you do want to hold an event, there is a multitude of ways to engage. From organizing a contingent from your company to attend a local Pride event together, to holding your own celebration in-house with rainbow treats and activities to help individuals learn about the LGBTQIA+ community and so much more. As always, don’t hesitate to consult your colleagues to get their input on the subject, and if you have employee resource groups, be sure to bring them into the conversation as well given their key role in driving workplace inclusion. Consider hosting a screening of an LGBTQIA+ show or movie with a discussion afterwards as an easy way to get both remote and on-site employees involved.

Another, sometimes overlooked opportunity is to focus on social impact. Pride month can be a great time to develop a partnership with a local (or national) nonprofit focused on supporting the LGBTQIA+ community whether through advocacy, direct service, or other approaches. Scheduling volunteer shifts, organizing fundraisers or supplies drives, and/or simply assisting employees to connect with charities they may be interested in can go a long way towards raising awareness and helping LGBTQIA+ people in need during Pride month. Whether you decide to go with a big event with a lot of fanfare, or a more understated approach, celebrating Pride at work can make a big difference for your employees, including in the ways outlined below.

3 reasons why you should make it a priority to celebrate Pride at work

While some businesses simply may not be inclined to address any issues that don’t directly relate to their core business services, and that’s their prerogative, there are actually quite a few potential benefits companies can gain from standing up for the LGBTQIA+ community. As with anything though, your efforts have to be authentic and go beyond making empty statements in order for you to reap the benefits. For instance, some companies have been accused of ‘rainbow washing’ for trying to capitalize on the financial goodwill from changing their logo to a rainbow version while allowing environments that are exclusive or outright discriminatory towards LGBTQIA+ community members to proliferate inside their organizations. Below are some reasons you might want to skip the ‘rainbow washing’ and take true steps to celebrate Pride at work in support of the LGBTQIA+ community:

  1. It drives inclusion. Approximately 4.5% of the U.S. population identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Odds are, depending on the size of your company, you likely have employees who identify with this community currently working for you. You may not know it though because nearly half of all LGBTQIA+ employees are not out at work. One in five LGBTQIA+ folx has experienced discrimination when applying for jobs, and 70% have been sexually harassed while at work. These are dire statistics that make it all the more important for your company to step up and take a firm stand in support of LGBTQIA+ rights. Going beyond the rainbow logo to actually celebrate Pride at work in a real way can be a step in the right direction towards encouraging everyone, LGBTQIA+ or not, to bring their whole selves to work at your company. Making space for different voices and lived experiences can go a long way towards building inclusion for every employee.
  2. It’s good for your customer and employer brand. A 2021 study found that 86% of the general population believes that companies should speak out publicly on social issues. If your company isn’t aligned with consumer and employee expectations, it will be difficult for your brand or your team to thrive. Buyers want to know that your company stands in solidarity with them and their friends and family, employees want to know that you have their backs no matter their identity, and on top of all of this, using your power to fight for those who are powerless is simply the right thing to do. In other words, stay silent or continue to actively oppress underrepresented communities at your own peril. On the flip side, many companies have seen far-reaching financial and exposure benefits due to their decision to celebrate Pride at work. The choice is yours.
  3. It’s important for recruiting top talent. As we stand on the precipice of the anticipated ‘turnover tsunami’, star players are going to have more opportunities than ever. You’ll have to make an incredibly strong case as to why they should choose your company. If you can’t demonstrate legitimate ways in which you support employees and help drive broader social progress, you’re going to lose out on talent to companies that do. Of course, the organizations with the best and brightest, the most cohesive teams, and those truly dedicated to driving the company’s success are the ones that will see their profits flourish, so it’s incumbent upon you to take the necessary steps to come out on top.

As attitudes and ideals continue to shift, it’s increasingly to companies’ benefit to take a bold and authentic stand on making the world a better place. This includes seizing the opportunity to celebrate Pride at work as a way to build inclusion, support broader social change, and ensure your employees know that you value and appreciate them for who they are, not just what they do for you. If you’re looking for ways to build inclusion on a daily basis, and not just during Pride month, we invite you to check out Workrowd, the employee experience platform that serves both people and profit. You can also drop us a note at hello@workrowd.com to learn more about how integrating an employee-led approach into your culture and engagement efforts can help you meet and exceed your goals. Happy Pride!

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Corporate social impact is a priority for 2021 – here’s why

Corporate social impact has been a topic of discussion for decades now, but as with diversity, equity, and inclusion, there’s been a lot more talk than action in many circles. As we remain at crisis levels across climate change, nuclear weapons, and COVID-19, and with the wealth gap widening for 70% of the global population, there is certainly no lack of work to be done. It’s time that companies stop simply paying lip service and instead empower their teams to drive real change around corporate social impact and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).

Developing an effective corporate social impact program isn’t just good for the world at large, though. Increasing your company’s work in this area can greatly improve your bottom line through attracting and retaining top talent, driving positive employee outcomes such as higher engagement and productivity, and boosting sales by establishing a compelling and socially-oriented brand. Your corporate social impact strategy can also be integrated with your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, helping accelerate your progress on these two crucial initiatives. Read on to learn why corporate social impact is more important than ever and what you can do about it.

Why corporate social impact is more important today than ever before

Corporate social impact has long been considered a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘need to have’. In today’s world though, as both consumers and job seekers become increasingly concerned with what companies do and what they stand for, failing to prioritize important societal issues can be costly. In business, the axiom of ‘nice guys finish last’ no longer applies. Take a company like Patagonia, for instance. Patagonia has a strong environmental focus, and encourages employees to pursue their passions and work towards a cleaner, greener planet. As a result, they have just a 4% turnover rate as compared to the average in their sector of 12-13%. Similarly, when they took a strong stance discouraging people from buying Patagonia clothing they don’t need and being transparent about the true environmental cost of their products, they saw sales increase by 30%.

Consumers and employees both want to support companies that mirror their ideals. In fact, more than 70% of buyers overall and more than 80% of younger generations prefer to purchase from companies that align with their values. The key takeaway here is that if you and your competitor offer a similar product but your competitor speaks out about causes that matter to consumers while you remain silent, your bottom line will suffer the consequences. If you’re concerned that taking steps to make your company more socially and environmentally responsible will be costly and not worth the investment, consider that younger generations increasingly support companies raising prices in order to prioritize people and planet, and their buying power will only expand in the coming years and decades.

Similarly, your organization’s corporate social impact is important to employees as well. Two-thirds of jobseekers consider a company’s stance and work on social and environmental issues when researching potential employers. Moreover, 55% would take a pay cut if it meant working for a more socially responsible company. Younger generations are even more concerned with the corporate social impact of the companies they affiliate themselves with, so as the workforce continues to shift, this issue will only become more crucial as part of your talent recruitment and retention strategy.

What steps to take in 2021 to increase your corporate social impact

Now that you’ve read a bit about why corporate social impact is so important, what can you do about it? Luckily, there are some relatively straightforward ways to boost your efforts without breaking the bank. We’ve outlined a few high-level strategies below, but as we always say, your first step should be to consult your employees. We can pretty much guarantee they’ll have some great ideas for you, but if you need some tips, check out this list:

  1. Take a look at your supply chain. A crucial first step in examining your company’s impact on the world beyond the people you directly employ and the revenue you generate is to check out what you’re endorsing across the entirety of your supply chain. If you say that you want to be an upstanding global citizen, you need to determine where you’re actually doing more harm than good. Are your products derived from sustainable sources? Are you working with vendors who align with your values and goals? At every point in your supply chain, seek to minimize your carbon footprint, engage with underrepresented sellers, purchase sustainable and local supplies, and whatever else makes sense with your values and broader ESG goals.
  2. Empower your employees to advocate for what they believe in. Those monolithic days of service most companies run aren’t serving anyone. One-off engagements are rarely worthwhile for resource-strapped nonprofits, many employees won’t be passionate about the chosen cause, and often all it does is generate a few forced photos for the Careers page. Instead, consider enabling employees to drive smaller impact efforts around the causes that are actually important to them. Equip them with tools to be able to organize volunteer shifts with their colleagues, launch fundraising challenges, and consider offering matching funds to ensure employees know you support them. You’ll be able to do more good through these smaller scale campaigns, and you’ll reap vastly more benefit from this tailored approach to employee programming.
  3. Form community partnerships that align with your values. That said, it is also important to have some sense of company-wide identity and investment. Consult your core product or services as well as your values to determine what causes are most relevant for your company. Next, research organizations that target these issues. Forming strategic partnerships with nonprofits and NGOs will boost your employer and customer brands, give you additional publicity, and support important work that’s aligned with your offerings. For instance, if you’re a financial institution, it might make sense to partner with a financial literacy organization. If you’re focused on transportation, you can connect with entities working to reduce carbon emissions, or to increase mobility for underserved communities. Bring employees to the table for these conversations, and you’ll be bound to come up with some great potential partnerships to pursue. Reach out to the identified organizations, and make sure that however you decide to collaborate is truly mutually beneficial. If the partnership is only helpful for your company, current and prospective employees and consumers will see through it quickly, greatly reducing the business benefits of your efforts.

Corporate social impact is a crucial topic in today’s world, with increasing effects on companies’ bottom lines. Make sure that your company comes out on top by prioritizing your corporate social responsibility and environmental, social, and governance efforts. Feel free to make use of the high-level tips above, and don’t forget to empower your employees to get involved early and often. If you’re looking for an easy way to equip employees with the tools to make a difference, and which also provides analytics and oversight for you, come check out Workrowd or drop us a line at hello@workrowd.com. We’d love to learn more about you and help you do the most good for your business, your community, and the planet.

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5 easy ways to improve your employee experience in 2021

As it becomes increasingly clear that we simply won’t be returning to the ‘normal’ of old, many companies are beginning to search for new ways to improve their employee experience. The pandemic has tested employers on many fronts, and the impending ‘turnover tsunami’ is painful proof that not every organization rose to the occasion. For those looking to make up lost ground, or simply stay ahead of the many upcoming curves, we wanted to pull together a list of low-lift solutions that can make a big impact for your employees. Plus, since we’ve got a flexible software platform designed to help companies of all sizes improve their employee experience, it only made sense to orient those solutions around Workrowd’s functionality.

That said, we know that not everyone has Workrowd at their disposal (yet!), so these ideas can all be implemented without the help of the platform, albeit with a bit more prep on the frontend and ongoing legwork. Don’t let that dissuade you, though; investing in ways to improve your employee experience is one of the best things you can do as team members start to return to the office, or settle into non-pandemic remote working for the long haul. Many of these ideas came up in conversations with Workrowd users or prospective users, so trust that there are a lot of brilliant minds behind the ideas on this page. Read on to learn why it’s so crucial to improve your employee experience, and check out our top strategies for doing so.

Why it’s more important than ever to improve your employee experience this year

Delivering a quality employee experience is crucial to ensuring your organization can recruit and retain top talent, the biggest factor in contributing to your company’s success. According to Deloitte, 80% of HR and business leaders say that employee experience is “important” or “very important” to them. Of these respondents however, only 22% feel that their organization is “excellent” at creating a differentiated employee experience. This is especially critical at a time when employees have an array of options available to them.

More than 80% of employers are already hiring or plan to hire during 2021. What’s more, 76% of companies believe that the demand for talent in 2021 will near or exceed pre-pandemic levels, which is good news given that more than 60% of full-time U.S. workers plan to look for a new job this year. What’s more, 3 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic began, and it’s unclear how many will return in 2021, or at all. As if these compounding elements weren’t enough to stress how important it is to improve your employee experience, the gig economy grew by 33% during the pandemic, providing yet another bucket of opportunities you could lose your top talent to as part of the ‘turnover tsunami’.

Beyond the recruitment and retention piece though, you also need the talent you have to be productive and engaged while they’re at work in order for your organization to be successful. Unfortunately, in addition to the aforementioned ‘turnover tsunami’, experts are also predicting a ‘mental health tsunami’ as we begin to emerge from the clutches of pandemic lockdowns. According to the American Psychiatric Association, employees living with untreated depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity, at a cost to the U.S. economy of $210.5 billion. Ensuring that support for your team members’ mental health is a part of your efforts to improve your employee experience will go a long way towards helping both your people and your bottom line thrive as the economy bounces back from the prolonged, pandemic-induced downturn.

Our top 5 ways to improve the employee experience in 2021

Now you know why you should invest in improving your employee experience, so how do you do it? There are many strategies you can pursue, but the most important thing you can do is to start talking to your employees. As with any effort to develop a product or experience consumers love, you have to begin by listening to the intended buyers themselves. Your current and prospective employees are the customers of your employee experience. If it’s not one they find attractive, you’re going to struggle in the impending war for talent. Additionally, this post doesn’t address compensation and benefits, but this is another make or break element of a world-class employee experience, so make sure your packages make the cut.

Once you’ve collected employee input via both surveys and conversations, here are some programs you might want to consider launching or increasing your investment in as part of your employee experience revamp:

  1. Professional development. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay with a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. Professional development can come in a number of different forms, and focus on a number of different topics. While self-study environments can be great for some, others learn better in groups. Plus, by enabling employees to learn together, you can double your potential benefits as you’ll be strengthening relationships between colleagues at the same time that you’re upskilling your workforce. One easy and inexpensive way to get started is to support employees to launch professional development groups such as Toastmasters at your company. Fear of public speaking can restrict wages by 10%, and inhibit promotion to management by 15%, so there’s really no downside to helping your employees improve their presentation skills.
  2. Employee resource groups. In case we haven’t said it enough yet on this blog, we’ll do it again: employee resource groups are a massively underutilized tool. Every organization that has grown to the point where everyone doesn’t personally know each other should offer employee resource groups. These associations are not just crucial for driving diversity, equity, and inclusion, but they can do a lot to surface and solve unreported employee needs before they start hurting your business. Employee resource groups don’t have to be difficult to start, either. In fact, the Global ERG Network makes it extraordinarily easy to get them up and running with best practice templates and toolkits, monthly virtual events, and 24/7 networking and knowledge sharing with peers. There’s no reason to not start or ramp up your employee resource groups this year.
  3. Social impact programming. Approximately three-quarters of the working population believes that companies must advocate and work on social issues. This represents a dramatic rise in recent years, and it does not appear to be slowing. Helping your employees to feel that they’re part of something larger than themselves and be proud to represent a company doing good work in the world is a key way to improve your employee experience. Rather than running one of those monolithic days of service that no one really likes though, empower employees to champion the causes that are important to them. Colleagues will learn about each other, they’ll appreciate that your company is supporting important efforts, they’ll build new skills as part of their charity work, and the positive branding opportunities for your organization won’t hurt either.
  4. Wellness initiatives. As mentioned above, we’re standing on the precipice of a widespread mental health crisis. If you don’t take steps to get out ahead of it, your employees and your bottom line will suffer the consequences. Wellness initiatives can include things like yoga and meditation courses, but they can also encompass things like childcare to help working parents manage their many responsibilities, inclusive access to therapy and mental health services, and an environment that encourages people to ask for help when they need it. Making it clear that it’s okay to not be okay will help ensure your employee experience fosters an environment where team members can move beyond just surviving, to truly thrive within your organization.
  5. Intrapreneurship. Last but certainly not least, give your employees the ability to change the game at your company. Many employees want the opportunity to use their whole skillset, beyond just the elements they utilize in their day-to-day jobs. Making time and space for intrapreneurship, where employees get to innovate on new ways of doing things, new products or services, and new approaches to the industry, can do wonders for both your employee experience and your company’s prospects in the market. Consider organizing a hackathon to start off with, start an employee innovation group, or you could even go so far as launching an internal incubator. Intrapreneurship has done wonders for companies like Google and 3M, so what’s stopping you?

Improving your employee experience should be a key focus for your company during the second half of 2021, no matter where you’re starting off from today. Not only will it help you succeed in recruiting and retaining top talent, but the impact on your employees will drive increased productivity, engagement, and more. If you’re interested in pursuing any of the ideas listed above, drop us a line at hello@workrowd.com. We’d love to chat about ways to support you in your efforts, whether it’s sending over some free resources or discussing how Workrowd’s platform can help you launch, manage, and measure the impact of your programming. You can learn more on our website, but whether you decide to chat with us or not, we encourage you to reimagine how you’re approaching your employee experience in order to provide the most benefit to employees as we begin to process the full extent of the pandemic’s effects. Your colleagues and your bottom line will thank you for it.