man working remotely waving to laptop screen
From virtually celebrating events like birthdays to offering courses on professional development, there are several ways to remotely boost your company culture and improve morale. — Getty Images/fizkes

Company culture is an important consideration for businesses that want to attract and retain employees. In fact, CultureIQ reveals companies with a strong company culture are rated 20% higher in their overall qualities than those without.

Developing a strong workplace culture is especially important right now, as many companies shift to remote work models in the face of COVID-19. Because so many company culture "moments" tend to happen in-person, businesses must learn how to adapt and bring those initiatives into the virtual realm.

Fortunately, improving your company culture can be done affordably and remotely.

[Read: Managing From Home? Here’s How to Keep Your Team Engaged During Coronavirus]

Why does a strong company culture matter?

According to David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Banks, company culture is the "lifeblood" of organizations. It can be the deciding factor for potential employees when considering whether to join your company — and perhaps more importantly, whether they stay.

"Culture is important because it acts as a barometer for how well you're treating your employees and therefore how engaged and effective they are at work," Reiling told CO—. "Nearly 90% of employees at companies that support well-being initiatives are likely to recommend that company as a good place to work. Research has shown that highly engaged teams are more profitable, too."

Affordable ways to improve your culture remotely

Consider the following ways to give your remote company culture a boost:

Revisit your mission statement

Reiling noted that company culture starts with the mission statement as "the reason you do what you do — and should act as a sentiment that employees can rally around."

In the midst of uncertainty, standing with your company's common mission will create a sense of unity within the company. Reiterate the mission and encourage your team to live it in their everyday work, no matter where they're located right now.

Recognize your employees

Employees rely on recognition and rewards to ensure they're on the right track. Praise and acknowledgement instills confidence that ultimately improves performance, retention and overall satisfaction.

Real-time recognition for employee achievements can be as simple as a public or team-wide "thank you" for a job well done. Many companies have Slack channels for recognizing employees, and some even adopt digital platforms like Bonusly or YouEarnedIt to tie it to tangible rewards. Consider sending e-gift cards to employees for truly exceptional jobs.

Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries

Celebrating an employee's birthday or work anniversary is a simple way to ensure each person feels like an included part of your company culture. Personal emails, Slack messages or handwritten cards mailed to their homes are perfect ways to recognize the impact an employee has on the company and team. You may even want to host a virtual birthday and anniversary party each month and encourage team members to indulge in their favorite sweet treat!

Nearly 90% of employees at companies that support well-being initiatives are likely to recommend that company as a good place to work.

David Reiling, CEO, Sunrise Banks

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Check out the video from our CO— Blueprint event that took place Wednesday, July 29, 2020, where the panel discussed everything you need to know about growing an inclusive team.



Organize special interest groups

Ann Nihil, operations and culture manager at Fracture, suggested creating employee groups, where team members can come together around a common interest or purpose.

"For the introverts who may not be as vocal … this provides them an opportunity to be in a smaller, more intimate setting where they can feel more comfortable speaking up and sharing than they normally would in a large group," she explained.

Host regular remote all-hands meetings

Regular all-hands meetings strengthen company culture because everyone is able to bring their issues, comments and questions to one place. These collective concerns can be hashed out and answered in real time with each individual given the chance to have their voice heard.

Team meetings can create a safe space for employees to come together for transparent communication, celebration of achievements and future goals for the company. This can be especially helpful as you share COVID-related updates in the coming weeks and months.

[Read: 5 Ways to Calm Coronavirus Fears Among Your Employees]

Offer professional training and development

Thanks to platforms like Coursera, Skillshare and Udemy, it's easier than ever to learn a new skill online and in the comfort of one’s own home. These online platforms allow employees to learn at their own pace and explore topics that are meaningful to them and their careers.

Communicate over different channels often

When working remotely, it can be easy to fall into a monotonous routine. Go out of your way to shake things up with your communication methods. If you usually communicate via email, try a phone call or video chat. Give your employees multiple platforms to express themselves on and keep the company culture thriving.

No matter what your current budget or remote working situation, leading your company with transparency and unity will tend favorably to your company's culture.

"At the end of the day, culture is ... a product of the executive teams' actions," Reiling said. "It's not something you can buy."

[Read: 6 Things Every Boss Should Do to Build an Amazing Company Culture]

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published April 02, 2020