Employee disconnect: focus on culture

The internet means we’re more connected to each other than ever. So why do we sometimes feel so disconnected from our colleagues? And how can we address it?

The lockdown years stopped us in our tracks and made us ask big questions about our lives – and that inevitably includes our working ones. Is my job fulfilling me? Am I happiest working in an office or at home? Where do I want to be in five years’ time?

As a result, we’re now seeing the single biggest shift in workplace attitude that any of us have ever experienced. Employees who once (in general) accepted the 9-5, and measured a large part of their job satisfaction by their wages, have had their eyes opened to the many other ‘perks’ they never knew they wanted. Flexible hours. A feeling that their employer is looking out for their mental health and wellbeing. A sense of purpose. It turns out there’s nothing like a worldwide catastrophe to make everyone question their hopes and dreams for the future.

One thing that’s emerged from this monumental shift is a worrying disconnect between employees and their employers, which some are dubbing the ‘great employee disconnect’. Many of our colleagues have vowed never to return to “the way things were”. So we’re inevitably trying to work out the way things should be.

Employees across organisations, grades and continents say they want to feel valued and supported. But a large-scale study by McKinsey seems to suggest that employers aren’t quite picking up on this… yet. McKinsey found that more and more employees are leaving jobs because they feel under-valued. And one of the reasons seems to be that employers remain too focussed on transactional perks such as compensation values.

Culture… and connection

So where does this leave employers? What should we be focusing on, beyond the more traditional pay incentives, to stop people disconnecting altogether?

Culture is the key. In our post-pandemic world, employees are on the hunt for more fulfilling and meaningful employee experiences. They want to feel included, connected, like they belong. They want to feel well in the workplace – not stressed and burned out. They want to know that they’re headed somewhere. Which makes sense, when you consider how lockdowns stripped a lot of these things away – connection, a sense of wellbeing, direction.

The problem, when it comes to culture, is that companies often get tied up in knots trying to define precisely what theirs should be. Some companies seem to have it nailed. Others are beginning to dip tentative toes into the water, as they figure out what new ways of working will look like.

Whatever part of the journey you’re at, these are the most important things to remember:

There’s no ‘one-size fits all’

When it comes to company culture, by all means look to others for inspiration, but don’t try to copy – their mission is not your mission, their people are not your people. Find what works for you and your people.

Cultures are created by people

So communicating with your employees isn’t just the best way, it’s the only way to evolve your culture into one where everyone feels content. Listen to your employees, have open and honest conversations about what they want and need to bring their best selves to work, and ask them what belonging looks like to them. Conversation creates the foundations of culture, and also puts culture into action by encouraging connection among the very people you’re creating it for.

Reward is closely tied to culture

How your people want to be rewarded, and what benefits they value, will depend on their needs. To find what works best, consider your company’s population and culture, and keep them in mind when designing and communicating your total reward.

For tips on how your employee communications can impact culture, why not check out our recent blog on Employee disconnect: focus on communication?

We can help you kickstart cultural change through the power of communication. Find out how – get in touch today!

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