John Street, co-founder and CEO, Pax8.
Why do some companies grow faster than others in a fragile economy and a world full of uncertainty? Do the technologies these companies choose to run their businesses matter? No doubt. Do automation innovations lead to more profitable and sustainable business results? Absolute. Does more capital guarantee the acceleration of success? Not always, but having the resources to hire more talented and committed employees certainly increases the chances.
However, what I’ve seen over the course of my career is that is a key component to success employee happiness. A recent report from the OC Tanner Institute confirms how important this is. Employees are looking for more than just work; they want meaning and connection. According to the survey, the pandemic prompted two-thirds of workers to rethink their careers, with 83% saying “finding meaning in day-to-day work” was a top priority. More than two-thirds (69%) would even change jobs for more satisfaction.
In 2023, as the world continues to adapt to the changes brought about by the pandemic and ongoing economic concerns, how can organizations continue to build a strong culture and support employee happiness?
The 6 vital components for your work culture
While the shared experiences of morning bagels, after-work drinks, and staff outings have become rarer, remote workers still want to engage and connect with each other. Organizations that want to prioritize culture in 2023 need to understand what current and future employees want from the work experience, even if it is virtual.
Here are the six factors I think are most important for moving forward.
Context is the most important aspect of your work culture. When you hire a group of talented people, they want leadership with a clear vision and they want to understand how they fit into it. The right amount of context creates better collaboration toward that vision and a passion for the work itself.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to provide that context. Through continuous communication, through channels such as regular virtual meetings and email updates, you can make a huge difference. When you encourage team leaders to do the same, your employees are likely to become more engaged and motivated to contribute to the company vision.
Create a sense of belonging locally, regionally and globally is invaluable, and sustaining that feeling requires an inclusive approach and active commitment from leaders. For example, I make it a habit to call an employee every day and ask, “What’s going on in your world?” What are you thinking about?” These conversations help me make it clear to every employee that they belong and are valued.
At the organizational level, every company must devote time, attention and resources to diversity, equity and inclusion programs and plans. These include providing education and training opportunities, building community within the company, and embedding inclusion and belonging as a core tenet of recruiting and retaining employees.
There are rock stars and current and future leaders among us, and I believe one of the most important skills a leader should have is the ability to scout talent. When a person in a job does their very best, thank them. How? Private compliments, such as an email or card, are great, but shouting them out in public is even better. At Pax8, for example, we take time in our monthly all-hands virtual gathering to celebrate each promotion.
The link to culture can best be summed up with one of my favorite sayings: “If you see a dish in the sink, don’t complain about it. Was it.” We need to go beyond words when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs. It is everyone’s job to keep our planet and our communities clean and safe for future generations, and organizations are is in a unique position to lead by example and take action Every company can work in ways that improve life for all, whether through more sustainable practices, partnering with ESG-focused organizations or creating programs that build local communities.
Times have been tough all around and it can be easy to get caught up in our increasingly fragmented and sometimes dark world. But having the right attitude is essential to our personal and professional lives.
I am a relentless optimist and I spend most of my time and energy with people who have the same attitude to life. Optimism is contagious and keeps cultures happy and employees energetic. At the same time, I am not an idealist. I know how important it is to make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions when it comes to managing resources for healthy growth. Being an optimistic realist makes progress faster and growth more sustainable.
When employees know their voice is being heard, they not only feel involved, they actually are concerned. Innovations rise to the top, and the individuals who bring great ideas to the table often become future leaders in the organization. Deeply understanding the importance of being heard, these new leaders will continue to prioritize listening to team members. Leaders can encourage employees to speak up in a variety of ways, such as physical or virtual suggestion boxes, surveys, or simply asking them directly.
On the road to 2023, no challenge is too great for organizations with a positive, energetic and authentically connected culture. The best investment business leaders can make is hiring the best, investing in their growth and development, and recognizing and rewarding their hard work.