A December 2021 Gartner survey of more than 3,900 hybrid/remote knowledge workers found only 1 in 4 employees reported they are connected to their organization’s culture. Culture connectedness is achieved when employees identify with, care about, and believe in the culture.
“Despite acting as a critical influence on their employees’ connection to organizational culture, most managers don’t know how to intentionally cultivate culture connectedness in a hybrid environment,” said Ashley Steele, vice president in the Gartner HR practice.
To drive culture connectedness, HR should enable managers to foster employee connection to the organization’s culture in three ways:
Define Team Culture
Managers must be able to articulate what the company culture is and translate company culture to daily team life. However, the Gartner survey of knowledge workers revealed that less than half of managers can effectively communicate why the broader organizational culture is important.
“Teams and managers are the best mechanism for creating culture connectedness by enabling each team to create their own micro-culture while still supporting the organization,” said Steele. “Organizations can double employee culture connectedness by embracing micro-cultures.”
To help connect employees to company culture, managers should gauge employees’ understanding of the broader organizational values and their team’s specific norms and processes. Managers can then work together with their teams to translate what each value means in the context of their work. They can then create a list of behaviors that contribute to the culture and those that will derail it.
Bring Culture to Life
The Gartner survey of knowledge workers found that only 34% of managers design processes that allow teams to demonstrate behaviors that are a part of their team culture.
“Putting culture into practice can be challenging for managers, particularly in a hybrid environment with less visibility,” said Steele. “A more accessible option for embedding culture within every day operations is culture hacking.”
With a culture hack, managers and their teams pick a key organizational value and then define what behaviors are associated with this goal for their specific team. Culture hacks create momentum by creating visible change quickly and with lower effort.
Make Culture Personal
Gartner’s knowledge worker survey uncovered that only half of employees believe their manager is effective at helping them understand the link between the organizational culture and their day-to-day work.
Managers can maximize efforts to connect employees with company and team culture by focusing on the five moments that matter most to employees in the hybrid and remote workplace:
- Peer recognition: Create an intentional space for peer community building and acknowledgment to help employees feel significant as individuals and team members. This also provides an opportunity for managers to reinforce company objectives, values and vision.
- Performance Reviews: Recognize and acknowledge individual employee contributions to the team’s success, while considering employees’ personal life circumstances and well-being. Accounting for the impact of personal factors in performance feedback is a powerful signal that organizations care about their employees as people, not just workers.
- Manager Support During A Difficult Personal Experience: In a hybrid and remote environment, employees endure a wide range of experiences, including personal distractions when working from home. Fifty-five percent of culturally connected employees experienced a strong sense of culture when managers supported them through difficult moments.
- Celebrating Successful Work Outcomes: To ensure employees feel a sense of closure, despite the absence of physical proximity, acknowledge and reward success after a project concludes.
- Observing Senior Leaders Talking About Organizational Purpose: Frequently highlight the purpose of individual employee roles, teams and the company as a whole. Doing so helps employees see that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves, which in turn helps them to feel connected to culture.
“Organizations struggle to transfer the ‘something special’ of their culture from an in-person to a hybrid or remote environment,” added Steele. “Managers can use these five moments to reinforce how employees connect with, and impact, the business and that they are seen as humans, not workers.”