Building and Sustaining Company Culture With a Virtual Workforce

COVID-19 has changed the way the world works-literally. Companies have moved their teams to remote working environments until further notice, with some well-known companies, such as Nationwide Insurance and research firm Nielsen, announcing their plans to allow employees to work remotely indefinitely. While companies and employees alike are finding the benefits of a remote work environment, many are struggling to build and sustain company culture and employee relationships amid a virtual working world. Why is this a concern? Company culture is what makes your company special; it defines the company’s core values and personifies how employees can expect to do business with each other and their customers. According to Buildin.com, 46% of job seekers rate company culture as very important when considering whether they would work for a company, leaving Human Resources teams looking for solutions for building and nurturing their company culture without regular face-to-face interaction. We spoke to HR and Talent acquisition managers and here are some best practices they recommend for successful cultivation of a company culture in a remote world.

Overhaul Onboarding

Onboarding is one of the most important processes for a new employee joining a company. In fact, studies have found that companies who utilize a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater productivity from those employees 34% faster than those who don’t offer formal onboarding. Shifting your current onboarding program to an engaging virtual program is vital to the success of your new hire, and most companies we spoke with agree that video face-time is more effective and conducting these sessions via conference call. Tracey Moscola, Career Program Specialist for the US Army, says they conduct video onboarding via Microsoft Teams. “We find the "face-to-face" interaction works best and is more personable than just a regular phone call. MicroSoft Teams also gives us the flexibility to show the new employee “how to” visually instead of just providing directions.”

During virtual onboarding, the smallest elements can make all of the difference. According to Dean Kent, a Human Resources veteran who spent 30 years with Emerson, “companies must express the importance of the question ‘What’s In It For Me?’ They must illustrate the significance of the onboarding process to employees so they understand what they will gain from the training.” Kent also mentions how crucial it is for companies to break down the barriers that employees have at the beginning of the onboarding process. “99.9% of new employees go into a job happy and excited. If the onboarding system isn’t well executed, by the end of the week the employee has already lost a lot of that excitement.” Steps to involve creativity in the virtual onboarding training should be in place to secure employee retention. There are a few ways to make employees feel appreciated right from the start. First, incorporate welcome gifts into your onboarding program. In a recent survey, 94% of employees said receiving a gift from their employer made them feel happy, admired and respected. Take some time to get to know the new employees and personalize a great welcome gift that will show the new employee how much the company cares about them. Kickstart teaching your company culture to new employees by sending useful and meaningful gifts that add a personal touch, such as a Shinola Linen Journal debossed with their name or a personalized BBTEK QI Powerbank Journal. Don’t forget to add a personal video welcome brochure or welcome note from the CEO or the new manager to delight your new employees and illustrate their importance to the company.

Employee Networking

 Virtual employee networking events are a great way to introduce new employees and sustain company culture with existing employees. Boost employee morale while working remotely by hosting a virtual meet and greet party with new employees, or hold a virtual event for existing employees by team. Companies have gotten very creative at creating events that allow employees to socialize and build relationships virtually; we’ve seen virtual games that keep the time together exciting and engaging, such as a virtual scavenger hunts or a company version of Trivial Pursuit, digital cooking lessons with celebrity chefs, mixology happy hours, and more! Prior to the celebration, send out a personalized gift pack (a personalized tumbler with the drink recipe) to make the event feel personal and fun. Don’t exclude your leadership team! Utilize virtual breakout rooms to allow employees to mingle with Senior Leaders in a smaller, more intimate setting or incorporate these private rooms into the game so employees are getting face time with the top of the house. Don’t forget to wrap things up by toasting the occasion or recognize winning teams in your company’s own unique way.

Recognition

70% of employees state that they are motivated by recognition from their boss. Most companies do a great job of recognizing employee milestones, but don’t let that fall to the wayside in a virtual environment. Instead, incorporate milestone celebrations for employees virtually. Dean Kent states “the key to recognizing employees is to increase frequency of recognition and constantly keep it in front of them. Recognition should come from corporate-level employees as well as direct managers to consistently keep people feeling valued. The more consistent recognition is, the happier employees will be.” Block time during the week to focus solely on that person and their accomplishments. Bring the team together to celebrate work anniversaries, goals being met or exceeded, new employee welcomes, and major accomplishments. Think about incorporating a virtual gift suite into your organization for employees to choose a personal celebration gift. To enhance the virtual celebration, make sure all of your participants have their cameras turned on to encourage participation and interaction. Ask Senior leaders, supervisors and managers to join in recognizing the person or occasion. If it is a large celebration such as a promotion, incorporate family and close friends to be a part of the celebration as a surprise. This will show you truly care about their accomplishment and want to recognize them for what they have achieved.

Our current virtual workforce has made employee relations more important than ever. Typically a strong company culture results in higher levels of employee satisfaction, retention and performance, so a focused effort on sustaining a strong company culture can have a positive impact on the company as a whole.

Need help with ideas for gift boxes to supplement your company’s virtual onboarding and events? Reach out to one of our Concierge Team Members for help!

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