Both the research agree that showing appreciation for employees, or teams, and the efforts that they have put in are valuable to building and demonstrating the organisational culture.
The pandemic has resulted in employees being a part of each other’s lives like never before. Therefore, there is a need to respond to this and as a leader balance being your authentic, true self at work but also leading and managing people.
There is a mismatch between employee perceptions of leaders displaying the organisational culture and leaders believing they are, “closing these gaps in perception and authenticity is essential, because authenticity is correlated with not just good feelings but also measurable business outcomes” (PWC 2021).
These statements all point to the need for leaders to be human and authentic in their transactions with their team members. In turn, this will build rapport, trust, employee wellbeing and influence the culture of the organisation.
It is not a new concept that leaders need to role model the values and behaviours that they expect of staff. However, in a hybrid work environment it is more critical to be deliberate and to think through how leaders can display and showcase those non-verbal expectations that they have of employees.
In-person communication styles from the office will never be replaced in totality in a hybrid work environment. However, leaders can create those ‘water cooler’ moments to replace those traditional methods of communication in a virtual setting.
There are multiple ways in which this can be done including utilising all technological channels that are open – virtual whiteboards to generate ideas, having check-ins or team sessions that are focused on idea generation and not the ‘work or task of the day’ or using Teams channels.
Also, when in the office, utilise that time to connect and create the physical ‘water cooler’ moments by having unscheduled time and conversations with staff.
After living through a pandemic and having to work remotely for a lot of that time, many employees are hesitant to return to the office. It is therefore critical that leaders deliberately ‘sell the office’ to staff but then subsequently make time in the office add some value to their ‘working from home offer’.
Staff need to know that they aren’t going to sit in virtual meetings all day (from the office) and need to get that face-to-face interaction and social aspect of working in a physical space together.
Leaders need to be deliberate in organising ‘face time’ between staff and other levels of leadership, having collaboration sessions in person and making use of the time physically together to have those aforementioned “water cooler moments”.