More than 16 million American workers have made the transition to working remotely since the COVID-19 outbreak became widespread in March 2020. 16 MILLION people, all undergoing a complete 180 shift in their day-to-day routines.
What can I do to support my staff? What can I do to make sure that your company is promoting a robust internal culture? How do I engage remote employees?
These are the kinds of questions corporate executives should be asking themselves in these unprecedented times.
To maintain workplace viability and effectiveness, business leaders need to turn their attention to three things: organizational structure, company culture, and employee appreciation. These may seem like daunting tasks, and you may feel lost as to where to even begin- we get it. That’s why we’re providing you with the knowledge you need to start implementing initiatives to engage your employees. We’re also going to let you in on a little secret on how to quickly and effectively enhance workplace culture: company swag.
What is Organizational Culture?
According to Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Company Culture, there are four generally accepted attributes of organizational culture:
- It’s shared
- It’s pervasive
- It’s enduring
- It’s implicit
At its core, company culture refers to the environment and norms that characterize an organization’s workforce. The collective values, behaviors, motivations, assumptions, and attitudes of the workforce all contribute to your company culture and dictate the team identity of each department. Culture can (and should) be shaped by leadership so that it effectively communicates and serves to advance the company’s goals.
When properly cultivated, company culture has the power to propel employees’ productivity and performance to new heights, thereby maximizing an organization’s capacity to prosper. Other tangible benefits include higher employee satisfaction and decreased company turnover rate.
Under normal operating conditions, U.S. workers can collaborate with their peers daily in an office setting. In environments like these, where communication with colleagues is constant, and the physical surroundings are designed to reflect the company mission and values, employees quickly learn and conform to the workplace culture.
Such environments are no longer the reality for most workers, though. We all expected remote work policies to be short-lived, but here we are, still going strong four months later. Shelter-at-home orders and concerns of disease transmission are still at play, and office reopening dates continue to be delayed.
Recent studies have disproved any prior notion that remote work is inherently ineffective; some research findings even indicate that people are more productive when working from home. We’re witnessing the emergence of a new normal, and it seems like remote work is here to stay.
Establishing, evolving, and reinforcing team identity are all challenging but crucial processes when managing remote teams. It’s more important now than ever for your company to invest time and resources in culture-building initiatives.
How is Culture Created?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a secret playbook on infallible strategies for developing and sustaining company culture to share (we sure wish we did!). Which initiatives will be the most effective depends entirely on the type of culture that exists at your company.
The foundation for a strong company culture begins with onboarding and training programs and a comprehensive performance management system. It is essential that employees know what is expected of them and understands how their role contributes to the company’s overall mission. Onboarding/training and performance management are both vital steps to ensuring that your team has a solid grasp on the inner workings of the business and can explicitly define the company’s mission and values.
The next step is equally (if not more) important because it serves to cultivate company culture and keep it from fizzling out: implementing ongoing measures of employee recognition and appreciation. It’s a well-known fact that employees are more engaged when they feel like they are valued, and their successes aren’t going unnoticed. Consequently, productivity and efficiency levels rise, and your business is better equipped to meet its goals.
Why Should You Invest in Company Swag?
At first glance, it may not be the culture-building solution you were expecting, but it’s one of the simplest and most creative ways to strengthen company culture. Furthermore, using swag to boost company culture is an effective strategy for remote workplace environments, and it goes without saying just how important that is right now. Investing in company swag for your employees is a gesture that shows you care, not to mention it allows them to take pride in (and show off) your brand.
Branded swag is a unique and practical gift for employees. It conveys professionalism, unites internal teams, reinforces company values, welcomes and excites new employees, celebrates achievements and milestones- the list goes on and on. Most importantly, it sends a message that your organization is committed to its employees and appreciates the contributions made by each individual.
As is the case with all aspects of internal marketing, company swag is only guaranteed to produce results when it’s done right. Before you start ordering promotional products, here are three tips for building and designing an excellent swag deck:
1. Be Personal
Now that we spend most of our time at home, our swag should reflect our new norm. Create products that could be useful for home life, such as branded apparel, self-care items, athletic gear, or even custom face masks.
2. Be Mindful
Don’t be the reason more waste ends up in landfills. Practice sustainability by providing employees with eco-friendly swag. Some examples include reusable coffee cups, water bottles made from recycled material, or steel straw sets. Added bonus: sustainable merch and swag can reinforce your company values, which is key to creating a healthy company culture.
3. Be Practical
This one should be a given, but we’ve all seen far too many swag items end up in the trashcan because of the lack of practicality. Branded products that are obviously cheap or purposeless will undoubtedly be thrown away or forgotten about and can actually look unfavorably on your company. Spend a little more on high-quality, functional products- you won’t regret it.
By no means are we suggesting that swag is going to be the answer to all of your company culture problems. What we are saying is that it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for tangible ways to establish a sense of unity within your remote team and turn your employees into brand champions. So what are you waiting for? Get to building that brand deck and send your employees some company swag as a small token of your appreciation.