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Skip the trends and use a values-driven approach to reinforce organizational culture

By Matt Brown

Considering buying a Ping-Pong table or installing craft beer taps to dazzle both current and prospective talent? Think again. While some of these trends are undoubtedly fun, they’re likely to fall flat in the long run if they aren’t consistent with your company’s overall culture. As HR leaders, we always want to tie our benefits to our organization’s overall values to ensure they serve a deeper meaning and exert a positive influence on engagement.

In the recent Virgin Pulse’s State of the Industry Report, 88 per cent of organizations said increasing employee engagement is a priority. And yet, the vast majority of organizations are unclear on the best approach. Many HR professionals believe that using a values-based approach to designing workplace benefits is the way forward. Employees who connect to your organization’s core values and culture will ultimately be more engaged and productive over the long term.

Whether you’re re-evaluating your perks or designing them from scratch, consider these three general rules to ensure they best reflect your company’s culture.

Foster an emotional connection

Despite the proliferation of social media, people desire authentic connections, and the workplace presents a great opportunity to foster them. The advent of 24-hour news and social media channels has resulted in politics and entertainment being intertwined closer than ever before. Rather than dismiss global issues as external factors, workplaces can offer employees an open forum to bring relevant issues up for discussion. Giving employees the opportunity to speak their minds can have a positive effect internally. If you’re willing to engage in conversations that matter for employees, they will feel a deeper connection to – and pride in – their workplace.

Make employee and community wellbeing a priority

Instead of competing for employees’ time and attention, a workplace can and should support their efforts to live a full and balanced lifestyle. Evaluate the initiatives you have in place that support opportunities for social meet-ups, community volunteering and overall fitness and healthy living. Create networks of teams at the grassroots level that help drive your community, social and fitness initiatives – supported by senior leadership. In this way, employees are able to invest time into the causes and activities that really matter to them, possibly even achieving things they never thought possible.

Instill confidence and trust

Empowered employees perform at their peaks. They feel confident and trusted to take risks and think creatively. Outdated rules and policies that are needlessly enforced can leave employees feeling unmotivated and over-managed. Review policies on a regular basis to ensure they are relevant and aligned with your business objectives, including developing a great place to work.

In the financial sector, it’s common practice to dress in formal business attire. Last year, Credential Financial questioned the correlation between dressing formally and business success – especially for the numerous staff in back office roles. The company ultimately decided to move to a flexible dress code to embrace individuality, encouraging employees to choose clothes appropriate for their days’ agenda. For some, that remains a suit and tie, while for others it’s a shirt and jeans. There are still some guidelines, but employees are empowered to make good decisions and the new dress code reinforces that. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, as team members feel comfortable to be their authentic selves at work.

A values-based approach to creating workplace benefits can add depth to the employee experience and reinforce your organizational culture. When you think about what perks you want to offer your employees, focus on how these benefits will demonstrate trust, foster connections and encourage overall wellbeing. 

Matt Brown is senior vice president, Human Resources, People and Culture at Credential Financial.

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