Organizational culture is based on a set of strong values shared and supported by leadership, strategy, and structure. While job duties, working conditions, and pay influence overall employee satisfaction, organizational culture is a critical part of the workplace experience.
Keeping employees connected and feeling like they are contributing to your company’s overall mission is vital for their personal well-being and the performance of your organization. This is especially important as we head into colder months when outdoor activities are limited, and seasonal depression is common.
Over 60 percent of employees have spent less time socializing with coworkers since they began working remotely, according to research by Clutch. This decrease in communication should be concerning to employers because work friendships are known to increase job satisfaction by 50 percent and foster teamwork through more creative, collaborative, and innovative conversations.
When employees start to disconnect and self-isolate, loneliness can occur. This can be harmful to an individual’s physical, mental, and cognitive health. A study from the American Psychological Association found loneliness and social isolation to be twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity. Feelings of loneliness are linked to raised levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping explains Nicole Valtora, epidemiologist at Newcastle University. These effects can lower one’s immunity to fight off infections.
Strategies for employers
You have the responsibility to prioritize employee health and well-being. By now, you have most likely invested in a reliable communication software such as Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams. It is important to fully utilize digital communication tools to benefit your workforce. Below are creative ways to maintain organizational culture as we close out 2020.
- Encourage webcams: Video chatting provides a deeper level of communication that traditional conference calls can’t provide. Ask employees to turn on their webcams so coworkers see nonverbal behaviors such as mood, facial expressions, and eye-gaze. Observing non-verbal behaviors can make communication clearer and more effective, according to Psychology Today.
- Simulate the office environment: Some organizations are experimenting with having ‘camera on’ days to help employees feel a greater organizational connection. The idea is to simulate working next to your team in the traditional office setting. Simply hearing someone typing or seeing them work diligently can have a huge impact on mood, morale, and productivity, says The Muse.
- Organize virtual events: In the past, events were a great way for employees to take breaks and catch up with coworkers from different departments. To continue these valuable connections, companies have been organizing virtual professional development workshops, happy hours, trivia games, fitness classes, and cooking sessions.
- Make a healthy meal: Many employees have gotten creative in the kitchen since quarantine. Encourage them to share a favorite healthy recipe with the team and set up a video call to make it together later in the week. This idea can be used for a great rendition on staff Thanksgiving or holiday parties.
- Casual chatter (digitally): Daily office conversations among coworkers is difficult during remote operations. Set up a digital space for casual chatter where employees can post community updates, holiday shopping and decorating recommendations, items being sold, new recipes, etc.
- Visibility buddies: This idea comes from The Muse. A major challenge with remote operations is lack of visibility around milestones and accomplishments. Celebrating achievements is important for morale and culture. Pair up team members to recognize one another’s achievements in group chats or during team meetings. Doing so can help reduce bias in the workplace.
Maintaining organizational culture during remote operations will benefit employee well-being as well as your company’s bottom line. Utilize your communication tools and creativity to keep employees connected, engaged, and feeling a sense of purpose as we close out 2020.
Next steps for protecting your team’s health
To help you prioritize employee health and well-being, Wellness Works developed a digital guide, Protecting Employee Health and Well-Being Amid COVID-19, outlining key elements that contribute to employee mental, emotional, and physical health, especially amid COVID-19.
Download your complimentary guide for helpful tips on having meaningful discussions with your employees about the importance of maintaining health and well-being in the coming months, including the significance of flu vaccination.