Pamela Daley at Atos on building a sense of community in a hybrid working environment
Many organisations were already investing in flexible working practices pre-Covid, but pandemic lockdowns have undoubtedly accelerated moves towards hybrid working. While companies now have the opportunity to harness talent beyond their local employee pools, this has also led to workers becoming much more choosy about the organisations they are joining, as well as making it more difficult to integrate new recruits into the company culture.
Speaking during REBA’s recent webinar – Using employee experience to build great cultures: The positive impacts of intentional community building – supported by O.C. Tanner, a panel of industry leaders shared their thoughts on the impact hybrid working has had on recruitment and retention.
Offer more than money
Andreea Dinu, culture, recognition & rewards consultant, Europe at O.C. Tanner points out: “Pay cheques are no longer the sole attribute…When people choose to join an organisation, they look very intently at how it contributes to the world. What is its social responsibility? They’re very careful with regard to the type of culture they’re joining.”
Companies need to successfully articulate their culture and experience to prospective employees to ensure a good fit, otherwise they may find that new recruits choose to leave in their first few weeks, and this attrition can really contribute to increased costs – anywhere from 20% to 150% of that employee’s annual salary.
Be authentic and welcoming
Pamela Daley, head of culture & transformation, Northern Europe for Atos agrees, highlighting that, pre-pandemic, from the initial interview, “you’d be able to go into the office and gain an understanding of the culture from the artefacts, the dress code, how people interact with each other – you’d get a good sense of your cultural fit within the organisation”.
The move to virtual recruitment has made gauging this feeling much more difficult for applicants. As a result, organisations must rely more heavily on their websites and social media platforms, and ensure that they are an authentic representation of their company culture.
And once colleagues have joined, without the constant face-to-face interactions of the traditional office, how can they be firmly embedded within their team, and the organisation’s culture as a whole?
Atos sends out a specific pack to all new colleagues, ensuring that they have the right ergonomic care, and some branded items to help them feel part of the organisation. It also provides a wealth of information, introducing them to the available support networks and communities.
Embracing the shift to hybrid working, Experian has suggested to staff that they visit the office two days a week. Sally Camm, head of culture & engagement UK&I, explains how she has seen a definite trend of people wanting to come back to the office. “It’s a virtuous circle,” she says. “The more they come in, the more they get from it, and the more their colleagues join them…And those new to the company really value this interaction.”
The company also recently held a sports day, and planning more face-to-face seminars and networking events.
The importance of listening
With a dispersed workforce, many companies are working on ways of becoming more inclusive and personalising the employee experience – a hard task, but one absolutely crucial in building inclusive cultures. Daley explains how Atos has invested in training for line managers, focussing on relationship building, emotional intelligence and resilience to encourage them to act as coaches, and gain a deeper understanding of what drives and motivates colleagues and teams. This also helps them to be aware of any challenges or issues that arise in colleagues’ daily work.
“We have also started to shift away from the more traditional, annual engagement surveys, to more of an always-on listening approach, and looking at pulse surveys,” says Daley.
“We've probably never worked more closely with the communications teams than we do now. It's about creating those employee voice mechanisms and employee voice forums to get that bottom-up feedback. And feed it through right up to the executive levels.”
The hybrid working space is constantly evolving as organisations look to create a new balance and understand how new ways of working fit with their culture. Reward and recruitment professionals will need to stay on their toes, and work with HR teams and line managers to adapt policies and processes to maintain the employee experience, and successfully integrate new recruits within the company culture through intentional community building.