When you look at successful companies that propel profit and growth year after year, there are patterns that show up consistently: an intense focus on quality, extreme clarity around expectations and key processes and a constant quest to get better all the time.
The vision is also crystal clear, and a strong mission and core values guide operational excellence from the inside out. And perhaps most importantly, there’s a deep appreciation for their greatest asset, the employees, who make it happen each day. Every aspect of the culture is built by design.
Companies who place a high value on culture are constantly seeking new and better ways to nurture and engage their employees—from team building programs, to career training, to supporting the communities they serve. And personal interactions have always been at the core of these events and programs until a new normal evolved. Welcome COVID-19. Suddenly a computer screen became everyone’s office environment for all meetings, all presentations, all interactions. Everything. The question companies face today, is how to make some semblance of normalcy during COVID to keep the culture vibrant, productive and fun.
If you look at recent statistics related to the world we live in, 40% of Americans have mental health issues as they cope with the various challenges brought about by the global pandemic. Safety, a very basic foundational need, according to Maslow’s pyramid, is being eroded at every level from the top down.
So what does it take to navigate this new hybrid environment that now defines our everyday? Here are 5 ways to ensure your company culture remains relevant today and beyond.
1. Keep a pulse on your team’s mental health.
Yes, every leader in your organization must ask and understand the mental health and wellness of your team. What’s creating angst, worry and stress? Managers should set up time with each team member, whether in person or virtually, to see where they are, let them know they are being heard and that the company is there to support them. Seek to understand where they are within their broader universe, particularly for parents who are juggling a career and their children’s education. Be there to listen, show care and concern. If you sense someone is struggling with how to manage the stress, be prepared to communicate helpful resources that exist.
2. Make Health & Wellness programs a top priority.
We all want healthy employees and research proves there’s an ROI for your company. Let’s face it, healthy employees cost you less. But it’s so much more than that. You are investing in ways that will optimize the human potential of each member of your team. You are helping employees better manage day-to-day stress and how to incorporate a healthier diet and exercise program. You are guiding ways to instill pride and greater involvement in life and ways to optimize their work/life balance.
3. Identify resources to navigate a heathier day.
Don’t forget your insurance company and understand what they may be offering during COVID. Every plan is different, but many insurers are offering telehealth services that include sessions with behavioral health counselors. Some are even waiving fees. Create a portal of information to make it easy for your team to access and share information on apps like Calm, podcasts and other life hacks that can help navigate this environment.
4. Create incentive programs.
Healthy habits create healthy environments. Develop a program that incentivizes your team to incorporate those habits into their daily life, create campaigns for sharing new ideas like a healthy recipes club, exercise hacks—anything that can make the team stronger. Building in competition also creates a sense of community, and get creative on the different ways that you reward the “winners” — everything from cash incentives, an extra day off, a chance for their success story to be shared in your company news, discounts to healthy products or services, the list goes on.
5. Re-imagine the live environment in a virtual setting.
Take stock of the office environment, which currently lives within your physical office space and now in many of your employees’ home spaces, and create a new hybrid ecosystem that is visible and shareable: one where healthy tips are front and center that help your team start the day stronger, get extra “fuel” to continue the day, and properly wind down at the end of day.
We all share a responsibility to support each other, especially during a global pandemic. And when we come out of this—and we will—hopefully there will be new habits that are healthier than before: habits worth keeping for life.