Company culture plays a key role in talent retention. According to a 2019 Glassdoor survey, 56% of employees believe it’s even more important than their salary. Fine, but how do you maintain that business culture with a remote workforce? In order to adapt to changing work methods, the company must now be able to disseminate its values to all employees, whether they’re physically present or working remotely.
Seeking to better convey your company culture to your teleworkers? Here are five HR tips to unite your remote employees.
1) Clarifying the company culture
If you ever hope to properly convey your organizational culture to employees, it has to be explicit. If you haven’t put it down on paper yet, it’s time to do so! You can start by making a practical guide that includes your values, your mission statement, your history, your ritals and examples of best practices applying these values in your daily life. This is what Hubspot has done in its Culture Code, for example.
To make it pleasant to read, don’t hesitate to mix different types of media (interviews of employees, Chinese portraits, infographics, photos of internal events…) The challenge is simple: help new hires get to know the “tribe” they have just joined and make it easy for them to identify with it.
Be careful, the culture must reflect authentic values that are truly lived at all levels of the company. For example, if one of your values is transparency, you will need to ensure that information is accessible to all employees, including teleworkers.
The internal social network is an excellent tool to convey and bring the company culture to life on a daily basis. You can showcase an employee or a team accomplishment, share internal documents, welcome a new recruit… It’s a way to inspire your employees, strengthen their sense of belonging, and show them how the business culture plays out on a daily basis.
2) Recreating informal conversations
Informal exchanges are an integral part of your company culture, and are essential to create bonds. Let’s look at how to recreate this type of communication when teams spend more time working remotely.
Virtual team building
Several team building activities can be organized remotely.
At the office, you used to chat over coffee? Once at a distance, encourage managers to re-create moments of exchange to discuss their weekend, the latest movies seen and the hobbies of the moment.
Do you sometimes like to have a drink with colleagues after you leave the office? Organize a virtual happy hour using a video conferencing tool to include employees who can’t be there. Do you sometimes play sports with others at lunchtime? Set up videoconference sports classes or team challenges to motivate each other.
Do you have a team of music lovers? Start blind test sessions. With the chat of your video conferencing system, no more doubt about who answered the fastest. 😉
You’ve got it, the possibilities are endless!
In recent months, it’s become difficult to bring all your employees together at the office.
From now on, try to set up internal events at least once a year. This will allow employees to get to know each other better and promote team cohesion by spending time together.
These events can take many forms. It can be a trip, a Christmas dinner, an after-work party, a seminar, or a company anniversary. For example, the American startup Buffer organizes a 9-day seminar every year (each time in a different city) to unite all its employees.
Gamification is also an excellent way to involve your remote employees and create connections among them.
To stay in shape, you can, for example, organize a sports challenge that will award a prize to the employee who manages to walk the most steps per day.
Another idea is to set up a points system rewarding employee involvement in the company. For example, points can be awarded to employees who get involved in group discussions, help their colleagues, or implement team building initiatives.
3) Rethinking the employee experience
To maintain your business culture at a distance, it’s also necessary to rethink the employee experience: from recruitment to retention and integration.
Also read: Phygital Work, a New Challenge for the Employee Experience
Recruiting remote employees who share your values isn’t always easy—especially when your company lacks online visibility. So, don’t neglect social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, which all serve as a showcase for your employer brand. Also, make sure you’re present on platforms such as Glassdoor or Welcome to the Jungle. These will allow you to showcase your employees, values, and the benefits of working in your company.
With social presence established, you’ll need to create job offers that reflect your company’s culture. For example, if your culture is centered on autonomy and trust, highlight this in your ads. Similarly, don’t hesitate to specify that your company is open to teleworking and mobile working. This will allow you to attract candidates who share your values of flexibility.
Recruiting employees who fit your organizational culture is essential, as they’ll be easier to integrate and retain. In fact, employees who are out of sync with their company’s culture are 24% more likely to leave than those who identify with their company’s values.¹
According to O.C. Tanner, approximately 20% of turnover occurs within the first 45 days of an employee’s arrival. The integration period is thus a key step to retaining talent. If some of your employees work remotely, you’ll need to adapt your onboarding process.
For example, you can assign a buddy or mentor to help the new employee integrate remotely. He or she will then be able to answer any questions the new employee may have about your company’s culture and values. Also, if the new employee cannot meet his or her colleagues as soon as he or she arrives, ask team members to send a welcome message and set up a videoconference meeting for everyone to introduce themselves.
Your training program will also need to be accessible remotely. Instead of organizing your training sessions only in person, set up videoconference sessions that all your employees can follow. You can also create online training videos. Finally, if you haven’t already done so, dematerialize all your integration documents (welcome guide, vacation, and expense claims procedure, etc.). Store them in the cloud for easy sharing.
Implementing teleworking is not enough to retain the best employees. You need to not only stay in touch with their needs but also hear from them on a regular basis. This will help you make sure they’re doing well and solve any problems they might encounter.
A good way is to set up surveys, a feature found on most enterprise social networks. This will allow you to quickly gather feedback on HR processes, work environment or personal development.
Empowering your teleworkers is also a good way to retain them. No more micro-management: employees now want more autonomy. In fact, employees with a higher level of autonomy are on average happier at work than their colleagues with less responsibility.²
4) Cultivating communication
To maintain your company culture remotely, you need to communicate more with your employees. There are several initiatives to encourage these exchanges:
Establish a culture of feedback
Remote collaboration requires a culture of feedback, which will foster bottom-up and top-down communication. In order to implement it, you need to train your managers in best feedback practices, so that they can then apply them with their teams.
Encouraging feedback will allow you to create a positive work environment, where everyone seeks to help their colleague—no matter where they are. What’s more, receiving regular feedback from teams will allow you to implement corrective actions to boost team cohesion.
Specify the methods of communication
It may also be wise to clarify internal communication codes to facilitate remote exchanges. For example, you can create a guide to best remote communication practices in which you will include time slots for availability, communication channels to be used for various situations (chat, email, videoconferencing, phone call, etc.), and best practices for communicating remotely (for example, include a video conferencing link in a meeting invitation).
Don’t hesitate to remind your teleworkers that they’re not expected to stay connected all day long. On the contrary, they have the same right to disconnect as their office colleagues.
Share information with all employees
When your employees work remotely, they’re not always well-informed about company news. For example, they may miss the launch of a new product, or the arrival of a new employee. This means that it’s no longer enough to simply share this type of information informally or in physical meetings.
To facilitate the smooth flow of information, it’s better to favor more regular online internal communication, even if it must be asynchronous. In practice, this will mean, for example, posting announcements on your enterprise social network to keep all employees informed of the latest news.
Also read: The Enterprise Social Network: THE Good Idea for Improving Your Internal Communication
5) Leveraging Technology
A multitude of tools are available to promote your business culture to remote employees, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Take email, for example. While it’s still preferred by many companies, it’s not very effective in communicating your values. Indeed, the messages of internal communication are often drowned under a heap of other emails having nothing to do with the information you wish to convey. Employees simply fly over them, or they’re simply lost due to lack of visibility.
Conversely, a collaborative platform will highlight your business culture through publications that automatically appear in your employees news feeds. They’ll then be able to comment and like them, allowing you to receive immediate feedback. This type of tool is also a good way to unify your collaborators remotely thanks to the creation of groups. In these discussion forums, your employees can discuss all types of topics: ongoing projects, communication campaigns, team building activities, areas of interest, and more.
Also read: Collaborative Tools: A New Way of Working
To maintain your company culture while working remotely, it’s also important to have real-time interactions with your employees. Favour instant messaging for more spontaneity, and don’t hesitate to schedule short videoconference meetings to exchange with employees. You can also broadcast live video from your internal social network to address all employees at once. This feature can be used to deliver a message from the company president, conduct a Q&A session, and much more.
That said, you’ll have to make sure employees know how to use the tools you provide. So, don’t hesitate to organize a training session to make them feel more comfortable with the platform.
By adopting these practices, your business culture will be more accessible to all your employees—whether they’re teleworking, in the office, or in the field. Of course, you have understood that choosing the right technology solutions will help you accomplish this.
Also read: How to Choose the Right Collaborative Tool?
Ready to take the leap? Discover our best advice for selecting the right collaborative tool in this methodological sheet: 8 Essential Steps for Choosing Your Collaborative Platform.
¹2018 “Employee retention report” of TINYpulse
²“Autonomy in Paid Work and Employee Subjective Well-Being” study from 2017
Author: Emmanuelle Abensur