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By Nick Strain, CFP®, CPWA®,  CEPA®, AIF® Senior Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove

Company culture is often seen as a key component of job satisfaction. As offices reopen, a hybrid culture is emerging, one where employees may be in the office a few days a week while commuting remotely on others. So, how can companies small and large approach this new environment? What steps can they take to ensure their culture remains something to celebrate? Below, you’ll find some answers. But first, what does it mean to empower and engage employees, and why is it so vital for business outcomes?

Empowering and engaging your employees typically pays big

Empowerment and Engagement are words that stand for a host of attributes. But if we break them down, most business owners would agree that a key factor in empowering employees means entrusting them with the power to take initiative, make certain decisions, and take on responsibility.

This, in turn, is a critical ingredient of engagement: Employees feel valued for their contributions, supported in their work, and rewarded for a job well done. They have the assurance that their firm “has their back,” they have agency, and (on most days!) they enjoy what they do.

Building and maintaining an inviting working environment isn’t just about supporting competitive benefits – it’s also about creating, benefits-wise, a competitive culture. In terms of tangible benefits—salaries, health insurance, a retirement savings program—who wouldn’t prefer to work for a firm where you can grow professionally, feel valued, and enjoy those you work with?

Maintaining Company Culture in the Era of Working Remotely

COVID necessitated a change in how people work, including shifting operations online, which in turn impacted company culture. Depending on the kinds of products and services offered, “remote” could mean anything from all employees working from home to implementing social distancing procedures to allow the business to continue functioning. Below are tactics that can work for businesses of all sizes, across all industries looking to foster an involved, empowered employee culture.

  • A new way to work: It’s all about balance. As more prospective and existing employees seek an environment that will provide both the flexibility of at-home work and the collaborative and inclusive in-person environment, businesses should consider implementing a hybrid framework that marries the benefits of both options to cater to the evolving needs of employees. Ensuring employees are comfortable with this new structure and have the resources necessary to succeed is a necessary and central step to flourishing in this new business environment.
  • Cultivating the culture: Reviewing what works well and what could be improved is important for every aspect of business, but culture may be one of the most important. This includes keeping your employees involved through fun and innovative company-wide events focused on team building, which will help maintain closeness and camaraderie. Without an engaging, supportive, and inclusive company culture, employees may not perform at their best because they are not supported in the right ways. Creating a Social Committee that reviews the culture and provides recommendations for strengthening it is an excellent way to ensure that you are meeting your employees’ needs. Opening it up to suggestions from the whole company also fosters an environment of inclusion and openness that increases employee buy in.
  • Providing great benefits: It is vital to reward employees through benefits as well as bonuses, raises, and promotions. Your company’s reputation precedes you, which is important to keep in mind when hiring. Providing excellent benefits is an important component for attracting both top talent and up-and-coming industry professionals. But so is offering clear paths to additional opportunities within the company. Listening to what your employees want and need will help determine how to best approach introducing additional benefits—such as generous maternity and paternity leave, relocation assistance, and educational support—and also help you understand what is needed to have a company culture that drives terrific word-of-mouth recommendations and entices prospective employees to join your team.

Creating a best place to work

All the elements discussed above contribute to providing an environment where employees feel empowered and engaged. Now more than ever, supporting and encouraging employees to grow personally and professionally is vital to your success. As we’re poised to exit a handcuffed business environment, we need the contributions of an energized workforce to move forward to a brighter tomorrow. They’ll help set us up for success today – and be ready to take on whatever tomorrow throws at us.

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