Our Employment Team recently ran its first in-person (rather than virtual) HR Informed session since March 2020! Whilst virtual forums have been a great way to bring senior business leaders and HR professionals together, the opportunity to all sit at the same table for a morning and discuss and debate the importance and challenges surrounding workplace culture was invaluable.
As you might expect, everyone agreed that a positive organisational culture can help drive productivity, profits and growth, which goes hand in hand with staff being engaged and pulling together to achieve a common goal. Less expected was everyone’s creative flair when it came to drawing a visual representation of their “perfect” workplace culture!
With these perfect cultures in mind we went on to identify some of the obstacles, including:
- stress, anxiety and burnout;
- making sure organisational values are relevant;
- managers not having the skills and/or inclination to deal with poor performance in a timely manner;
- inflationary pressures on remuneration and benefits packages;
- tensions between staff that work(ed) remotely whilst others continue(d) to attend their places of work; and
reluctance to return to the office and requirement by staff for greater flexibility.
It became clear that increasing uncertainty in the world, together with a lack of interaction between staff and management, had resulted in a lack of community and at times a lack of clear purpose. Some also felt that the dynamic between work and private life has shifted so significantly that staff just don’t see work as their priority any more, which is having an impact on attendance, performance and retention.
With all of this in mind, the group focused on the key interventions organisations might take to help reshape their culture, including:
- Having a clear mission or purpose and ensuring that employees know how they fit into this and, perhaps most importantly, what is expected of them. With many people working remotely or in isolation it’s important that they are consulted and involved in this process (what the group referred to as “doing things with them, not to them”).
- Having clear policies and procedures with associated training to ensure everyone (especially managers) know what is expected of them. Managers also need to be empowered to have difficult conversations early on to avoid issues escalating.
- Using appraisal systems and regular catch-up meetings constructively and effectively was considered to be key. The group also felt that updating job descriptions and objectives on a regular basis would help facilitate constructive feedback;
- Taking time to reflect on the organisation’s values and creating a sense of community, perhaps taking on local community projects or individual team-building events.
- Embracing diversity and ensure that staff are treated fairly and with dignity and respect. Again, training and effective communications were considered to be key.
Perhaps the key take-away point was that now is the perfect opportunity for organisations to re-set and move on from the challenges and disruption caused by covid; driving change one step at a time. And those that don’t may get left behind.
Each delegate left the session with a commitment to implement one action point from the session; for example arranging team days to re-connect and foster team spirit, reviewing policies and contracts of employment or asking senior managers to draft their team strategy and objectives to see how these might align with the senior leadership team’s strategy and objectives.
We thoroughly enjoyed the session and look forward to following the delegates’ journey as we drive forward from the pandemic.
Save the Date
We very much hope you’ll be able to join us in person for our next HR Informed session on 9 June 2022. We also hope to see you at our next virtual session on 14 April 2022.
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This is only a summary of the points discussed and is not specific legal advice. If you would like further information or advice, please do contact a member of our team.
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