Many organizations say they put their people first. But what does it truly mean to create a workplace where your employees feel empowered and, in turn, trust you as an employer?
I recently had the opportunity to share my thoughts with HR magazine on the importance of maintaining employee trust, particularly during times of crisis. In my experience, it starts with having a people-centric philosophy – but there’s so much more to it than that.
As organizations continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and contemplate reopening workspaces for their employees, trust will play an even more critical role in workplace dynamics.
Here are four steps – or, as I think of them, the “Four C’s” – that are critical for building a more engaged, collaborative, and ultimately trusting corporate culture, no matter your organization’s size.
Building a healthy corporate culture starts with understanding the needs of your people. Where is your organization today, and what are your areas for improvement? To measure this, you need a baseline. Examine past employee engagement surveys, if your organization regularly conducts them, or review other sources of employee feedback. And if you don’t have regular avenues for ongoing workforce listening, consider launching them to get a current snapshot of employee sentiment.
Once you understand how your employees view your leadership and work environment today, you can start building out short- and long-term goals in a robust people strategy. But remember, creating the healthy, engaged corporate culture that you envision goes beyond HR – you must involve colleagues from across the organization in your effort by gaining their buy-in and feedback so you can ensure your plans match the needs of your team members.
Then, with milestones and metrics identified, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and really get to work.
Having identified your goals and the steps you must take to achieve them, it’s important to cultivate opportunities to empower all team members to reach those goals together by tackling exciting challenges and having new experiences. What those opportunities look like depends on your organization, but they could include a mix of leadership and development programs, more clearly defined career paths, affinity groups, internal recognition programs, and benefits tailored to address specific employee needs.
Other methods could include creating a special program for those you have identified as high potential or initiatives dedicated to cross-pollinating talent across business units. Equally important, make it clear that employees have your support and can take advantage of development opportunities to supplement their existing roles. Integrating these opportunities into their day-to-day roles and responsibilities is critical.
It’s not enough, though, to merely create these resources and opportunities. For them to truly be effective, you need to connect your employees with them – and with the broader ideas that these resources represent.
So, make sure that any related assets are clearly flagged and posted in an easily navigable location. But go beyond that to also ensure that your company values are just as easily found and understood. Do you rally around collaboration? Does your organization prioritize transparency? This information should be equally as accessible – and often repeated from leaders of all levels across the organization.
By sharing your values and mission, you go beyond “what” is being offered to connect your employees to the bigger “why” that drives your organization. You foster deeper connections with your company’s DNA – and all the great things that make your team successful and unique.
Let’s face it – ultimately, even after providing connections to these initiatives and values, it takes clear, two-way communication with team members across your organization for your efforts to be successful.
It’s essential to be transparent about all aspects of your company – the good, the bad, and the ugly – from the top down. Your employees should hear directly from your executives about any changes you’re making and why, giving them the chance to work towards your company’s goals hand in hand with leadership. Make it clear that you are also here to listen to employee feedback on those changes, and that you genuinely care about their thoughts and overall workplace. It’s important not just to solicit feedback but also to demonstrate that you are acting upon what was shared and integrating it into your people strategy.
And A Bonus “C”: Continue
Once you make these changes, it’s critical to recognize that nothing should be set in stone. Continue to listen and evolve these programs, as well as the thinking behind them. Refresh your initiatives and regularly share updates about how they’ve been kept up to date.
At HireRight, our decision to work remotely as an organization during the global pandemic was directly a result of the “four C’s” process. Based on two-way communication with HireRight team members, our leadership encouraged remote working as a company until the end of 2020 out of caution for the health and safety of our employees, with a plan to reassess at year-end. Based on received feedback, we also crafted a voluntary regional program to allow those who prefer to work in an office the ability to do so when in compliance with local laws and regulations, while maintaining a global standard of office safety and health protocol. Employees are advised on this protocol before returning to the office, and frequently updated resources are available digitally to all team members, as it is essential that we sustain open lines of communication and support during this challenging time.
Ultimately, your HR team can implement programs and offer guidance, but a truly positive corporate culture, in which team members feel they can work together and are not in competition for resources, needs to be owned and driven by every employee across the company. This lesson is more important now than it has ever been before, but building your team’s resilience and demonstrating your dynamic, people-centric philosophy makes all the difference.