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5 Ways to Evolve Culture in a Hybrid Work Environment

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(BPT) - As many employers are welcoming employees back to the workplace, others have committed to the shifts they made during the pandemic and embracing the opportunities that come with working hybrid or remotely. The most successful organizations are going so far as to take advantage of the opportunity to inspire culture in a hybrid work environment.

EVP Chief Operating Officer Troy Dunmire at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), a leading healthcare nonprofit, describes some of the ways that the organization continues to grow together, despite the challenges of working apart.

1. Encourage a growth-mindset: Working remotely or in hybrid situations has stretched us all in terms of how we structure leadership and work ethic, challenging the way we “normally” do things. Working from home also introduced the element of bringing our personal and work lives together in a way that can impact the learning we do in each place. LLS addressed this head-on by naming our new way of working “The Growthplace — the intersection of life, work and learning.” We wanted to acknowledge the challenges this shift presented and assure our employees that we trust their ability to get their work done and manage other commitments that may be happening simultaneously. Our employees delivered and were given the opportunity to work from home, in the office or a combination of both, alongside the option for a flex schedule that would allow them to do their job while meeting their individual needs for work/life balance.

2. Invest in talent development: Honoring the Growthplace requires honoring our commitment to help employees thrive. Sometimes this means encouraging them to grow outside the scope of their current roles, so that they naturally develop according to their strengths and interests to be the best they can for the organization. LLS’s former Chief of Staff stepped down for a year to take part in the CEO action for Racial Equity Fellowship and will return to apply her learnings in a new role. LLS also helps employees take personal ownership of their career trajectories, by incorporating their own professional goals — regardless of how they fit with their current roles — into individualized career development plans. Recently, this has resulted in three new job opportunities for experienced leaders, which allowed for growth opportunities for several other employees as a result.

3. Let culture inform strategy and vice versa: Culture can be an incredibly productive asset, and one that is often overlooked when thinking about how teams work together. When LLS’s Strategy & Innovation team started bringing departments together in person for the first time to work on developing a team strategic roadmap they posed the question, “If we are going to map the goals and priorities we are working toward, shouldn’t we also map how we are going to collaborate together to achieve those goals and why?” This led naturally to a conversation about culture in which everyone around the table had a voice and all were able to contribute to the strategy in a more meaningful way.

4. Create a listening environment: Many organizations were inspired to change the way they listen. This was true for LLS, both in how the organization listens to patients and caregivers through the Information Resource Center and in how they listen to their employees. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provide an opportunity to empower employees to use their voices independently, and a channel through which to share them, ultimately impacting how we operate. Our Kudos platform for providing recognition and feedback, our annual Employee Opinion Surveys, shorter pulse surveys throughout the year, and the anonymous All Voices platform moderated by our HR team, all provide opportunities for employees at all levels to weigh in and provide input on key business decisions. Additionally, our Employee Engagement team creates listening/feedback loops through Employee Ambassadors, and everything implemented through that team is based on direct feedback from our employees. We try to do our best to be inclusive in how we listen and in who is listening, to get the largest breadth of feedback possible.

5. Give employees time to reflect: While there are benefits to being in a more flexible work environment, there are obvious stressors as well. LLS believes that having time to reflect and write is critical to learning and growing. We started the LLS Growthplace Writing Group, an open meeting in which employees are given 30 minutes to consider a challenge or opportunity they are currently facing through writing and reflection. Employees are invited but not required to share their writing and can attend the group as frequently as they want.

Culture can feel unattainable in many respects, especially while working apart. But finding ways to encourage culture with the tools and resources available is, in and of itself, an opportunity to build culture. Watching teams learn that they can change and shift how they do things, while maintaining — and in many ways exceeding — our commitment to our mission is one of the greatest parts of my job. This awareness creates endless possibility for positive change for our employees, our organization and the people our mission touches.

Blood cancer patients and their families can contact the LLS Information Resource Center for one-on-one support at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., ET.