COMPANY CULTURE

    Why employee engagement
    matters now more than ever



    Not to be dramatic but... work as we once knew it has been forever changed. Love it or hate it, remote and hybrid workplaces are the "new normal." And we can't help but wonder: how does this affect company culture? How can leaders engage their remote employees? How many days is too many days wearing the same pair of sweatpants when you work from home? (Asking for a friend).


    Let's unpack these hard-hitting questions and take a look at what this new normal really means for biz leaders and their employees.


    GOODBYE, DAILY COMMUTE.

    Hello, hybrid future!

    Remember when we thought COVID was going to be over in 2 weeks? Good times. Here we are two years later and most workers haven't seen the inside of an office building since. Since millions around the world were forced to work remotely in 2020, working in the office full-time has largely become a thing of the past. And TBH, it sounds like it's going to stay there — according to this Gartner survey, 80% of company leaders plan to allow employees to continue working remotely part-time, and 47% will allow them to work from home full-time. PwC had similar findings when they surveyed nearly 700 CEOs and 78% agreed that remote work isn't going anywhere. Hopefully your cat doesn't mind.



    78% of CEOs agree that remote work is here to stay.

    For many, this is welcome news! A recent study across six countries found that only 12% of workers want to return to the office five days a week. A whopping 72% prefer a hybrid remote-office model! The freedom to work remotely has liberated employees from the daily stressors of being in the office for 40+ hours every week: commuting, workplace distractions, and poor work-life balance. Plus, being able to do your job in your PJs isn't the worst thing in the world, is it? In fact, the option to work from home has become so crucial that 27% of workers report they would be willing to take a 10-20% pay cut if it meant they're able to work remotely.


    For executives and leaders who are shaking in their pantsuits over these changes, there's good news: working from home and hybrid work structures are actually GOOD for business. It's true! Remote workers are an estimated 40% more productive than their in-office counterparts (even if they wear the same sweatpants two days in a row). Phew!



    Remote workers are 40% more productive than their in-office counterparts.

    Alongside significant increases in job satisfaction, the most notable aspect of the new normal is that people are happier. According to a recent report by Avaya Inc., 62% of employees reported increased happiness in connection with working from home. While this can be attributed to several factors, 57% of respondents credit their increased happiness to feeling trusted by their employer to be productive at home.  


    So company leaders - take note! In order for your team to thrive in the "new normal," leadership must reinforce a culture of trust and appreciation. But, how can we foster a sense of culture with most interactions taking place through a screen? 

    Company culture matters - even more than you think

    With 63% of companies shifting to a remote-first or hybrid future, a flexible work environment has started to be considered a given. However, what will set companies apart from competitors is their company culture and, specifically, their ability to recognize three truths about it:


    DESPITE A REMOTE-FIRST FUTURE, COMPANY CULTURE...

    • is incredibly important to employees 
    • is continuing to evolve, and it's evolving differently than when employees were in the office full-time
    • will require a substantial investment of time and energy to maintain


    A positive sense of culture is extremely impactful because it gives employees a sense of shared connectedness in attitude, values, goals, and behaviors. Unfortunately, most organizations tend to underestimate the importance of culture (and overestimate the importance of pay) when it comes to employee satisfaction. However, to successfully increase engagement in the hybrid future, companies should prioritize building a strong company culture and value systems over anything else.



    65% of millennials rank company culture as more important than salary 


    But first, companies must acknowledge that culture can no longer be forged in the same way as it was in an office-centric model. Plenty of research shows that our ability to connect meaningfully to others is less satisfying when we're not physically present. Without frequent face-to-face interaction and a lack of shared context, company culture isn't naturally occurring as it did before. Therefore, executives and leaders must be intentional -- and a little creative -- in order to foster a meaningful sense of culture. 

    Creating a culture of appreciation

    Having a strong culture rooted in appreciation has proven to be fundamental to business success. Why? It's a no-brainer: when people feel valued and appreciated at work, levels of employee engagement, loyalty, and productivity skyrocket. In contrast, turnover plummets - saving businesses millions of dollars in hiring costs. Additionally, studies have shown that companies with appreciation-centric cultures achieve 4x annual revenue than their competitors. 

    Turnover rates

    48%
    at companies with a poor sense of culture
    14%
    at companies with a strong sense of culture

    Clearly, having a strong company culture pays off. For businesses looking to maintain these advantages in the hybrid future, it is crucial that they reimagine the ways in which they cultivate culture. Methods that were once effective in the office are either no longer possible or have to happen virtually, which tend to fall short of the real deal. Since so many business interactions now take place through a screen, employers need to be especially careful to avoid digital fatigue. For example, an e-gift card might not feel as special as before when everyone was in the office full-time. Even something as simple as mailing a physical gift card directly with a handwritten note can pack a greater punch in employee connectedness. 

    Tech giants and other major corporations are taking it a step further. In the new normal, they're stepping up their game when it comes to humanizing the employee experience - specifically through corporate gifts. Gifting plays an important role in employee engagement, loyalty, and retention - the numbers don't lie: 

    • 81% of employees feel appreciated when they receive gifts from employers 

    • 56% feel recognized for doing a good job 

    • 41% indicate that gifts positively influence their opinion of their employer



    64% of employees would stay at their company longer if leaders showed more appreciation

    While corporate gifts aren't a new concept, they do serve a new purpose in the digital age. Sending a physical gift through direct mail to employees can be an extremely effective tool for recreating that "pat on the back" feeling when your boss mentions your work during a big meeting, and reinforcing a sense of belonging and camaraderie that you feel when your team hits a big goal. Experiences like these really matter! Without a shared office environment, the myriad of little moments that cultivate culture won't naturally occur as they once did. It is up to companies and their leaders to make intentional efforts to build, maintain, and nurture their culture in the new normal.

    So, how is your company adapting to the new normal? How are your leaders engaging with remote employees? Are they taking steps to actively build, enhance and protect company culture?

    Looking for a fresh way to generate some buzz "around the office"? Consider weaving gift boxes for employees into your efforts. After all, the data doesn't lie: gifts are a proven method for increasing engagement and retention. But most importantly, your team will feel valued, appreciated and connected - and we could all use a little more of that right now!