Reimagine workplace culture: 5 trends for HR

Is it time to reimagine workplace culture?

Yes – and perhaps it’s overdue.

With turnover rates at all-time highs and employees jumping from one greener grass to the next, HR leaders might need to reimagine a lot: recruiting, retention, morale, perks, benefits, etc.

And all that might start with a culture reboot.

But it doesn’t have to be a whitewash of your existing culture. Many legacy pieces have a place in the emerging workplace.

“You can’t change culture too quickly,” says Martha Bird, Chief Business Anthropologist at ADP. “It can’t be like a light switch. Culture is something that’s always fluid, always changing.”

The best part is HR can have a heavy, positive influence on the direction of culture change.

Here are five workplace culture trends you’ll want to know and consider as your organization evolves.

Don’t wait, start now
We often say there’s no time like the present. But when it comes to company culture evolution, yesterday would’ve been a better time to work on it.

If you regularly work with employees to evaluate the culture and look for next-step solutions and initiatives, you’ll have an adaptable culture.

“Foster ongoing communication and encourage critical thinking about reshaping and improving your organization,” says Jan Bruce, CEO and Co-founder, meQuilibrium. “Giving your team ownership of this process will help them better internalize the values of your organization, and also model the importance of growth and improvement.”

Tomorrow’s culture is built today.

“Frame your values as a living, breathing document that forms the foundation of your organization,” says Bruce. “A large component of resilience is flexibility and openness to change. Don’t let rigidity stifle growth.”

Balance the view
HR professionals have made great strides to improve their organizations’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) equation in recent years, and it’ll only play an increasingly important role going forward.

One way to leverage DEI in the culture journey: Pull together different generations to reimagine the future.

“The companies that are doing this well are the ones that engage these groups,” Bird says. “Groups of people to come together to share their expertise – and everyone has an expertise.”

Bird suggests a top-bottom and bottom-top approach to engaging the generations across the workforce.

Modeling can start at the top. If leaders across the C-Suite and higher management say, “We should all learn from each other,” it will happen.

Team leaders can “promote that energy and show the greater good to employees,” Bird says. “Good leaders need to manage these interpersonal relationships.”

Team leaders will want to gather feedback, ideas and expectations from younger generations and share them. The more common cross-generational idea-sharing and learning becomes, the more quickly it can build a positive culture.

Welcome ‘The Fam’
You’ve probably always offered benefits and perks that, at least, affect employees’ families – from health care coverage to an annual summer picnic.

Now you might want to expand benefits to be even more family-friendly. In fact, you may have to expand the benefits: Nearly 90% employees claim they’d leave their employer for one with better family-focused benefits, according to Ovia Health’s Future of Family Friendly report.

“Culture can feel vague and hard to measure, but there are lots of big and small ways to let your employees know that your organization values families,” says Gina Nebesar, Co-founder of Ovia Health. “At Ovia, family-friendly means that it’s okay to block your calendar to pick up your kids in the afternoon, take a morning off for a pediatrician appointment, and leave early a day or two to get the kids to soccer practice. There’s no stigma to these basic accommodations.”

Here are the top five benefits working parents want:

Better leave policies such as longer parental leave time
A family-friendly culture that allows for scheduling around family needs, improves lactation rooms and creates resource groups that support parents
Flexible schedules that might include remote or hybrid work options
Return-to-work prep and flexibility so employees can help their families transition, and
Easy-to-understand benefits so employees know where they stand.
Rethink rewards and perks
Most employees evolved with the pandemic – and what they considered a reward or perk in 2019 or earlier could be a punishment today. Case in point: Ping-pong tables, free snacks, on-site happy hours and anything to keep employees engaged in the actual workplace were all the rage. Now, many employees don’t even want to step foot on-site!

“More than anything it’s about helping employees be their best selves,” says Leslie Tarnacki, SVP of Human Resources at WorkForce Software. “That’s really what people want – ‘How can I continue to be a better person and an employee?’ This translates to perks around training and development, self-care initiatives, and mental health and wellness being front of mind in today’s environment.”

To reimagine workplace culture that’s motivated, gear rewards and perks to what employees crave today. Every workforce is different, so survey employees to find out what means the most to them now.

Tarnacki suggests:

wellness and fitness reimbursement programs so employees can relieve stress with offerings such as exercise, yoga and meditation
a prize catalog that offers unique bonuses, such as PTO, experiences, travel benefits, a gift card of their choosing, and other prizes that employees receive based on their performance
monthly or quarterly non-work team activities for fun and socialization, and
professional development courses and ongoing training opportunities.
And don’t just wait to reach the major milestones to recognize and reward employees. “Make sure you celebrate the grit that it takes to accomplish your common goals and to go the extra mile,” Bruce says.

Recognize, pursue the balance
As you reimagine workplace culture, you might want to do it with less “workplace.” Many employees want to spend less time at work. That doesn’t mean they want to spend less time working, though.

They mostly crave an arrangement that allows a fair balance between work and life. And that can mean more work some days (or weeks) and more life other days (or weeks).

“Nowadays, people want jobs that fit in better with their lifestyles, offering a flexible working culture, a good work-life balance, or benefits such as childcare support or enhanced annual leave,” says Lily Valentin, Head of Operations for North America at Adzuna. “After combatting additional stress from the pandemic and work-life boundaries blurring, many Americans have realized the importance of their mental and emotional well-being.”

One key, says Valentin: stay interviews. Make them part of your culture. They should be separate from performance or compensation conversations. Ideally, HR or front-line managers will want to meet with employees annually. And if that’s difficult, at least try “stay surveys.”

Ask employees:

What keeps you here?
What would lure you away?
What’s your biggest motivation to come to work?
What makes you want to avoid work?
How can we improve your work experience?

By: Michele McGovern