Reinventing the corporate culture to involve employees

Today’s work environments are very different from those of a few decades ago. Open floor plans are the norm, and physical doors are often reserved only for senior executives and meeting spaces. Technology has made it possible for professionals to work from anywhere and anytime. Smartphones are never far away and wearable technology makes people accessible at any time of the day. In today’s hyper-connected environment, the lines between personal and professional life are blurred and often intertwined.

At the same time, the younger generations have different expectations of their employers and their working environment compared to previous generations. Work is rarely reserved for the nine to five hours, and it’s not uncommon for offices to offer free meals and snacks, on-site gyms, and even dry cleaning services. In today’s employment landscape, insurance organizations need to create collaborative, forward-thinking workplaces that attract and engage employees of all generations.

However, as most know, creating a culture that resonates with employees involves more than free snacks, cappuccino makers, or foosball.

By re-imagining the office environment with a focus on engagement and growth, employers can increase retention, innovation and productivity.

Relying on the strengths of employees rather than trying to correct weaknesses results in much greater productivity.

Start with leadership

Culture permeates the entire organization, with leaders setting the overall tone. Great leaders ensure that all employees feel valued and connected to the performance of the company, regardless of their level within the organization. These leaders are clear about what needs to happen to achieve the goals, as well as how the role of each employee contributes to the success of the organization.

The leadership team is also responsible for illustrating and encouraging transparency and collaboration. Keep employees up to date on company initiatives, plans and priorities, and admit you don’t have all the answers. As modernization efforts become more mainstream, employees need to understand their roles in the process and how those roles may change in the future. By aligning employees with business goals and demonstrating how essential each employee is to the success of the business, leaders can help their teams feel motivated and belong to a bigger cause.

Involve employees in defining culture

As leaders set an example, encourage employees to take an interest in how culture is built and recognized throughout the organization. This may mean setting up an activity committee to develop opportunities for individuals to interact outside of work and get to know each other.

It could also include seeking employee feedback on how best to recognize earnings and recognize coworkers who go beyond their standard job descriptions. True culture must be created, experienced and breathed by everyone within the organization. All employees must feel involved in the culture of the company.

Leaders also need to create an environment in which employees are empowered to present their ideas, knowing that they are heard and considered. It’s more than just a survey or a suggestion box. Encourage managers to continually seek employee feedback with the full intention of applying their thoughts and ideas wherever possible.

Foster inclusion

Encourage employees to be fully dedicated to work.

Gone are the days when employees completely separated their professional and personal lives. Individuals have interests and priorities outside of work which helps them shape their perspectives and makes them all-round professionals. Encourage your staff to be themselves at work, rather than conforming to a separate “work” personality. It means cultivating an environment where differences and unique experiences are welcomed and celebrated. After all, the diversity of ideas and backgrounds is a key factor in innovation and problem solving.

Additionally, by recognizing that people have responsibilities and obligations outside of work, employers create environments that keep people fulfilled and engaged. The flexibility of working hours and locations demonstrates that organizations are understanding and respectful of employees’ needs and willing to accommodate family obligations and other interests outside of work.

Focus on employee strengths

Harness employee superpowers by identifying unique strengths and developing and focusing on those attributes. Think about how skills can be leveraged for the betterment of the business, while also helping employees shine. Professionals who regularly use their strengths are also significantly more engaged, according to a Gallup study.

Employees are likely to excel in some areas and lack skills in others. Allow staff to bring their unique talents to the table and don’t try to put them in a specific box. Relying on the strengths of employees rather than trying to correct weaknesses results in much greater productivity. By adopting different working styles, you will build an open culture where strengths are highlighted, celebrated and harnessed to increase productivity.

Focus on development

In today’s candidate-driven market, growing talent within the organization is more important than ever. However, it also has an impact on retention and overall job satisfaction. Gallup found that 87% of Millennials consider professional development to be important. According to Deloitte, 28% of Millennials who plan to leave their organization in the next two years say it’s due to lack of learning and development opportunities.

It’s more than the growth of employees in their current roles. Have talent assessed at least once a year and take the time to ask questions about employees’ long-term career aspirations.

Then create a plan to help them achieve those goals. Facilitate mentoring between departments and functions. Provide exposure to other business units and teams. Encourage projects and experiences that will take people out of their comfort zone and develop their professional skills.

Have fun and celebrate

Don’t forget to celebrate the great work of your employees. This can be done through peer-to-peer praise or more formal corporate recognition programs. It can be easy to get caught up in plans and deadlines; encourage employees to take the time to reflect on their work and to enjoy their victories. It is possible to do a good job while having fun along the way.

Corporate culture can take many forms, but it goes far beyond office decor and a handful of perks. By helping employees connect with colleagues, at work and with the business, insurers can cultivate an environment that attracts and retains professionals of all generations. Culture is actively created and lived, starting with leaders and permeating throughout the organization.

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