By: Alan Rihm, CEO, CoreDial
A business is only ever as strong as its people. A company positioning itself as an attractive, inclusive, vibrant organization is critical for establishing a strong brand identity and for developing a team that is aligned to achieve great things. In an industry as competitive as cloud communications, being able to attract and retain the best talent is absolutely essential — and that means that building a strong, sought-after culture is a must.
So what makes a great culture? Every company has their own ideas (and certainly one size does not fit all), but before building a thriving culture, it’s important that everyone from the top down is aligned on how culture is defined. Misconceptions and misunderstanding about culture are rampant, but according to the Harvard Business Review, culture is “…the tacit social order of an organization. It shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways… When properly aligned with personal values and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive.”
In short, culture is a magnet that draws people to your company — and pushes them to unimaginable heights. Culture is both your people and how they do their jobs. When the two are in alignment, there’s no limit to what your team can accomplish.
In the cloud communications sector in particular – where competition is fierce, innovation is frequent, and technology is constantly changing – it’s increasingly difficult for companies to stand out. Building a strong culture — one that attracts top talent and engages employees to be their best selves — can turn into a major differentiator for a brand. After all, employees who are happy and motivated are more willing to go above and beyond to create the kinds of delightful experiences that bring customers back again and again (and again).
Even as offices start to re-open, remote work is still a fact of life for most employees (and isn’t going away any time soon). With that in mind, companies need to work harder than ever to ensure that their cultures can flourish. With employees at home, businesses don’t have the same access to face-to-face interactions and the perks that come with them, and they can’t rely on in-person proximity to build relationships. In the same way that the pandemic radically shifted every other business activity, how we think about culture and how we implement it has also changed dramatically over the last 18 months.
A remote or hybrid workforce may seem like a barrier for building a strong culture, but with the right focus and approach, a business can easily instill a culture every bit as vibrant as any brick-and-mortar enterprise. There’s no singular recipe for creating an award-winning culture, but these five areas should not to be overlooked or underestimated:
Creating ongoing opportunities for employees at every level to interact with senior management is vitally important for maintaining a positive culture. Employees need to know their ideas are welcomed, valued, and have the potential to impact decisions in a way that goes far beyond lip-service or a suggestion box in the lobby. Their contributions should be recognized and – where it makes sense – rewarded! Whether remote, hybrid, or fully in-office, successful companies need workforces who want to be and stay engaged. Opportunities to meaningfully interact with leaders create trust, transparency, and motivation across the organization.
Technology changes at a breakneck pace, and as a result, skill sets and knowledge must evolve, expand, and keep up. It is important to invest in opportunities for ongoing education (both in-person and virtual) to ensure that our team members are prepared to meet tomorrow’s demands. These initiatives resonate with the staff and reinforce the importance of education and training as part of the culture.
Work is stressful — and as we’ve all seen in the last year, when you’re working from home, it can be tough to get away from that stress. It’s important for team members (both as employees and as people) to decompress and find time to socialize outside of their work environment. Whether events are organized at the company level – such as a team-wide game night, painting class, or a virtual escape room – or just encouraged on an individual team level (are your teams meeting up for virtual happy hours after work?), simple activities can do wonders for employees’ relationships and emotional well-being.
Exercise programs, cooking classes, outdoor and nature excursions, and a multitude of activities that promote social, personal, and self-care development (both virtual and in-person) foster an environment that values employee wellness. Activities such as these go a long way in reinforcing team camaraderie, morale, confidence, and yes, physical health. When employees have outlets and encouragement to take care of their mental, emotional, social, and physical needs, the company and the culture is strengthened.
A strong organization encourages employees to spend quality time with their families, loved ones, pets, and friends. Whether it’s attending a child’s dance recital or parent-teacher conference, coaching soccer, taking care of an elderly parent, or visiting a friend in the hospital, acknowledging and providing flexibility for employees to nurture areas of their lives that have nothing to do with work will earn the respect and gratitude of the staff. Life is unpredictable, dynamic, and in many cases short; allowing employees time for loved ones is not only appropriate but essential for maintaining a healthy culture.
In an age of fierce competition, creating a strong culture can be the difference-maker for cloud communications providers. Building a unique and sustainable culture takes vision, honesty, effort, and commitment. But once the process begins – and the team buys into the process – culture and brand become intertwined, giving the business a unique and undeniable platform to set itself apart from others.
About The Author
Alan Rihm’s 24-plus years of entrepreneurship, successful business strategy, and channel experience has positioned him as a respected cloud communications leader. As CEO and founder of CoreDial, a leading provider of high-quality and scalable cloud communications, contact center, and video collaboration to more than 35,000 businesses, Rihm has infused the company’s vision and strategy and built a winning team and culture — resulting in tremendous revenue growth and exceptional Partner retention.