Hybrid Work: 6 Secrets to Purposeful Collaboration & Equitable Experiences

Developing your Company Culture: 4 Key Principles 

Join us for a 4-part series that explores developing your company culture and taking your organization to the next level.

  1. A Culture of Impactful Leadership
  2. Continuous Development – The Path to Employee Engagement & Retention
  3. 5 Simple Steps to Foster Inclusion & Diversity
  4. 6 Secrets to Purposeful Collaboration & Equitable Experiences

Part 4: Hybrid Work – 6 Secrets to Purposeful Collaboration & Equitable Experiences

With some employees at home, some at the office, and some a hybrid of the two – creating and fostering a company culture that feels genuine can be elusive. And in the aftermath of the pandemic, and several years into widespread remote work, this hybrid lifestyle is a reality that’s here to stay.

There are many positives to the hybrid work environment. Employees have embraced the flexibility of working remotely and leaning into a schedule that allows them to maximize their personal schedule, productivity, and energy. But there are also challenges: Zoom fatigue, the mental exhaustion from back-to-back meetings on screens all day, and the dissipation of company culture are a few of the big concerns. Working from home makes it hard for employees to feel connected to the bigger picture, team, and company.

With hybrid work being the new normal, how do we maximize the effectiveness of this model & use it to our advantage?

  1. Make the Office a Magnet, Not a Mandate

Fear has driven some companies to mandate employees’ return to the office. But why make your employees pay for the cost and time of a commute if they’re going to be doing the same work from the office as their house?

What could your company offer that makes the office a magnet? It could be offering free lunches, opportunities for collaboration, or a welcoming, comfortable work environment.

The key is to make returning to the office – even for a few days a week – enticing to your employees.

  1. Foster Purposeful Collaboration

At HealthEdge, we are consciously fostering a culture of purposeful collaboration – where if employees are invited to come to the office, we provide a solid WHY behind that request. This could be creating connections, brainstorming/solving problems, celebrating, socializing, and/or building relationships. We want to encourage employes to get together when it makes sense – to solve a business need or to gather to form stronger bonds & relationships.

We also host ‘Collaboration Weeks.’ These purposeful weeks are designed to bring people local to the office together. The week includes community service, social activities, panel discussions, and more. They’re designed to get our people together to interact through different events. However, it’s critical to make remote employees feel included as well. We offer all the sessions virtually so any employee can join. The experiences of on-site, hybrid, and remote employees must be equitable.

  1. Educate & Empower your Managers

Senior leaders are in the best position to both define and role model the desired company culture and connect employees to that culture. However, managers are in the best position to help connect their teams to the work and to why what they’re doing is important – linking back to the purpose of the company.

Educate your managers on:

  • How to have successful remote meetings
  • How to have successful 1:1 meetings
  • How to assess performance in the hybrid world

Empower your managers to develop the right schedule & collaboration strategy for their teams. Rather than an Executive leader making a bold statement like, everyone must be at the office 3 days a week! Empower your managers, who know the composition of their teams & the individual members, to determine what the hybrid work model looks like to make the strongest connections and reap the highest levels of productivity.

  1. Minimize Remote Meeting Fatigue

Staring at a screen all day, switching from meeting to meeting, is draining and has proven to be mentally exhausting for employees. Encourage your employees to turn their screens off and walk around during meetings where they just need to listen. Make it a norm for employees to block time off on their calendar for lunch and breaks in the morning/afternoon. With remote work, it’s easy to spend a whole day glued to your screen and desk chair – a surefire recipe for burnout and disengagement. Actively tell your employees to take breaks and get away from their screens. Without this active encouragement, it’s easy for remote employees to fall into the trap of feeling guilty when they aren’t immediately available via Slack/email. Managers can play a huge role here by role modeling this behavior.

Companies can also provide equipment/stipends that encourage movement throughout the day. This could include things like standing desks or under-desk walking pads. Companies can also encourage walking challenges with fun prizes to get employees moving.

  1. Establish Meeting/Deep Work Norms

When you work in an office next to your neighbor, you can see when they have their headphones on and are deep in work. However, when you’re working remotely, you can’t see that – all you can experience is an unanswered Slack and wondering why your coworker isn’t responding.

Furthermore, when you work in an office, you get up from your desk and go to a meeting room. Then you get up and walk around after the meeting. When you work remotely, it’s easy to go from back-to-back meetings and never get up from your desk.

This is why it’s critical for managers to establish deep work, response, and meeting norms for their team. For example:

  • Deep work: managers can actively support their employees to set the time and space for deep work each day/week. This can be as simple as encouraging employees to set their status as away so they have the time and space to focus. Managers could also establish deep work blocks of time – such as a 3-hour window on Wednesday mornings with no meetings.
  • Response times: Managers can support their employees by setting expectations for response times for email and Slack/teams messages.
  • Meeting norms: Managers can mandate that meetings be a maximum of 25 or 55 minutes, so employees have a chance to get up and move around throughout the day.
  1. Lean into Synchronous/Asynchronous Work

Synchronous work is normal – we talk, we meet, we Slack – all in real time. But with remote work, there’s the opportunity for asynchronous work, which enables team members to work when and how they’re most productive.

For this to be successful, managers need to be empowered to establish the cultural norms for their team. These cultural “rules” can include how the team can expect to work together in an asynchronous fashion. For example, Slack response time expectations. The “rules” could include:

  • When to use Slack versus email
  • When Slack is to be checked (every time it dings or at set times like morning, noon, and end of day)
  • What to put in Slack versus email

The Future of Hybrid Work

With remote and hybrid work, employees, especially highly performing ones, have more choice of employers than ever. Creating a hybrid culture of purposeful collaboration, equitable experiences, and flexibility is critical to engaging and retaining employees long term.

Learn more about life at HealthEdge here.

5 Simple Steps to Foster Inclusion & Diversity

Developing your Company Culture: 4 Key Principles 

Join us for a 4-part series that explores developing your company culture and taking your organization to the next level.

  1. A Culture of Impactful Leadership
  2. Continuous Development – The Path to Employee Engagement & Retention
  3. 5 Simple Steps to Foster Inclusion & Diversity
  4. 6 Secrets to Purposeful Collaboration & Equitable Experiences – Coming soon!

Part 3: 5 Simple Steps to Foster Inclusion & Diversity

The business case for committing to diversity & inclusion is compelling. It has been shown that companies with above-average diversity produced a greater proportion of revenue from innovation (45% of total) than from companies with below average diversity (26%). This innovation-related advantage also translates into overall better financial performance. It follows that with the workforce becoming increasingly diverse across all categories, 57% of workers believe that employers should be doing more to increase workplace diversity. A study by McKinsey demonstrated that gender and ethnic diversity are clearly correlated with profitability.

Furthermore, when you bring people with diverse backgrounds together, it drives innovation. Instead of collaborating with a team of homogenous people – all with the same education, thinking, and background – the diversity of circumstances, ideas, and perspectives leads to enhanced problem solving and advancements in innovation.

When you diversify your employee base, your company culture benefits from the wealth of those perspectives, experiences, and approaches to problem solving. Diverse backgrounds include gender and ethnicity, but also age & generation, gender & gender identity, sexual orientation, religion & spiritual beliefs, disability, education, and socioeconomic status & background.

Diversity is a powerful force to drive revenue and profitability. Here’s how you can foster diversity in your organization.

Simple Solutions to Foster Diversity

  1. Offer Diverse Benefits

Organizations can foster a welcoming environment to diversity by offering benefits that are inclusive. Employers should address the gaps and disparities in benefit plan offerings to optimize the health, productivity, well-being, and financial protection of underrepresented groups. This might mean providing benefits that don’t just cater to a heterosexual married couple with two kids. Building an inclusive benefits package shows employees, and prospective employees, that the company isn’t just talking about DEI – it’s taking action, making investments, and enacting changes.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts at HealthEdge have led to a conscious decision this year to enhance our US benefits package with more inclusive offerings. This includes things like infertility services, gender affirming services, travel & lodging reimbursement to ensure employees have access to covered women’s health services, and an increased parental bonding leave policy from 4 weeks to 14 weeks for birth and adoptive parents.

  1. Seek talent with diverse backgrounds

Understand the current composition of your workforce – look at it by type, role, and function. Determine how you can diversify, and how you can attract/appeal to different candidate pools. Make it a goal to have a diverse pool of candidates to pull from. A hybrid/virtual workforce can help with this – when you expand your geographic boundary for hiring you get a broader pool of diverse candidates.

  1. Educate your hiring managers

Hiring diverse candidates can take a little longer – which is why it’s crucial to educate your hiring managers on why diverse candidates are so important. Help them understand the business case for hiring diverse candidates and why it’s worth the investment in time and effort.

  1. Foster an Environment of Inclusion & Belonging

It’s critical to create a work environment where people feel like they can bring their most authentic self and highest potential to work. What good is it to hire for diversity if your employees don’t feel like they can be themselves – where the work environment doesn’t support diversity. This is where inclusion and belonging come into play. Create an environment that fosters and welcomes diversity.

  1. Internal Inclusion Best Practices

There are many ways to make diverse employees feel included in the organization:

  • Create a community for them to be a part of. At HealthEdge, we have an iBelong group that seeks to include employees throughout the organization with ongoing virtual chats and a monthly event. Events serve to provide awareness and education in an interesting and engaging way.  The community also offers a safe space to seek support and discuss challenging topics.
  • Educate managers on how to make employees feel welcome within their group. For example, recognize there are introverts and extroverts in our Zoom meetings. A simple technique during meetings is to present a topic and give everyone a minute to think about it before soliciting a response. Another is to go around the table during a discussion and give everyone a chance to contribute – not just the most loquacious extroverts.
  • Encourage managers to build 1:1 relationship with their team members to build trust and provide support throughout their career journey.

Diversity & inclusion is a powerful way to increase revenue, profitability, and innovation. Learn more about HealthEdge’s culture of belonging here.

Continuous Development – The Path to Employee Engagement & Retention

Developing your Company Culture: 4 Key Principles 

Join us for a 4-part series that explores developing your company culture and taking your organization to the next level.

  1. A Culture of Impactful Leadership
  2. Continuous Development – The Path to Employee Engagement & Retention
  3. 5 Simple Steps to Foster Inclusion & Diversity
  4. 6 Secrets to Purposeful Collaboration & Equitable Experiences – Coming soon!

Part 2: Continuous Development – The Path to Employee Engagement & Retention

At HealthEdge, our vision is innovating a world where healthcare can focus on people. With this vision in mind, we hire the best and brightest from around the world – as our ability to achieve this vision hinges on our employees’ skills, creativity, capabilities, and leadership from within.

Continuous development is becoming a critical pillar of our company culture – as keeping and engaging top talent requires an intentional approach to their short- and long-term development.

Since “development” can mean different things, these are our top 4 continuous development tenets:

  1. Embrace the uniqueness of your team members

As a manager, you have the great responsibility and wonderful opportunity to lead and develop a group of individuals. You get to engage your employees in their current role, help them grow their skills, build the bridge to their next role, and develop the framework for the trajectory of their career.

The key is to get to know your people for who they really are – their unique interests, strengths, and ambitions. How does this role, that’s so vital to your team, fit into their career? How can you help them develop and prepare to be ready for that next step?

Good questions to consider and discuss include:

  • What are their career goals?
  • In what ways do they need to grow and develop to achieve that next career goal?
  • How can you help them achieve their career goals?
  • What skills do they need for the future?
  • What are creative ways to help them achieve those skills?
  1. Understand the Many Facets of Development

When we talk about development, many often think only of attending formal training. Training can be a relevant component of learning – however, it’s only a small part of how we learn and master a new skill. Research (link) shows that learning takes place by doing, trying, and experiencing. It means working on new projects, interacting with new people, and experiencing new things.  All of this can be done “in the flow of work”, meaning deliberate learning can take place while someone is working in today’s role.  This keeps employees engaged and more likely to stay because they are continuously developing new skills.

Facilitate your team members to:

  • Attend meetings at the next level above – to see the level of discussion, level of preparedness
  • Work on an assignment within a different functional group
  • Take on a stretch assignment
  • Creatively think about team members, their unique skills and who they can connect with
  • Connect with senior leaders and facilitate mentoring opportunities
  • Get more exposure – such as speaking opportunities and interactive panels. This is especially helpful for emerging leaders.
  1. Leverage Hybrid Work

The rise of flexible and hybrid work environments has led to fewer spontaneous hallway chats, chatter around the watercooler, and opportunities to have those unexpected run-ins with folks from different departments. In this new flexible world, employees often work exclusively with their functional team and only see folks around Zoom meetings.

With the importance of creating opportunities for your employees to grow and learn, how can we do this in a hybrid environment?

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Be purposeful & bring people together when it makes sense – for in-person team meetings or 1/1s, to brainstorm or workshop a topic, to celebrate, socialize, and/or participate in fun or team building activities
  • Encourage and empower your team members to come together in the office and create norms that help the team feel engaged and productive
  • Create networking opportunities for your team – invite folks from other teams, departments, and levels (both in person and virtually)
  1. Change your Mindset to Our Talent to Enhance Engagement, Retention, & Company Performance

Employees join a company to perform a specific role, and it’s common for managers to think about them as my person, my talent, who adds so much value to my team, what would I do without them?

However, when we shift our mindset to being enterprise- and employee-centric, we bring a host of value to the employees, company, and company culture. Each employee represents not only the value they bring to their current role, but the time, energy, and expense of finding, training, and folding them into the company. Retaining employees reduces waste, cost, time, and energy.

When we focus on this enterprise- and employee-centric mentality, our company culture is strengthened. With this outlook, we help employees navigate the organization, grow and expand, and continuously develop so they remain constantly engaged and challenged at the company.

Investment in employee development is priceless.

Learn more about continuous development & life at HealthEdge here.