People feel disconnected from the corporate culture. But is hybrid working the problem?

Diving brief:

  • Forty percent of HR professionals surveyed by Gartner said their budget for culture had increased since the start of the pandemic, but only one in four knowledge workers said they felt connected to their organization’s culture.
  • This disconnect is due in part to the fact that the office is no longer “the most common and constant cultural experience,” Gartner said. But the flexibility itself isn’t the problem, Gartner said; in fact, employees who had a high degree of flexibility about when, where, and how they worked were more likely to feel connected to their organizational culture than those who had very little flexibility.
  • Gartner cautioned employers against implementing a return-to-work policy as a solution to a cultural disconnect, as it could lead to significant attrition. Instead, employers may need to focus on empowering individual teams to create “vibrant microcultures” rather than relying on a “macroculture” osmotically disseminated through the office, Gartner said.

Overview of the dive:

Hybrid work remains a point of contention between workers and employers, especially since companies are concerned about maintaining a cultural identity. But this problem is not new, according to Alexia Cambon, director of HR practice at Gartner.

“Employees at all levels, and across demographics, are suffering from a connectivity crisis, which suggests that this problem is not just related to hybrid and remote working, but to organizations’ lack of intentionality to foster connectivity historically,” Cambon said in a press release. press release announcing Gartner’s findings.

HR and business executives may not be on the same page neither does culture, according to Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Study. While nearly all HR professionals surveyed said there is still work to be done to create a culture of trust in the workplace, leaders generally don’t see the return on investment. And while surveyed employees said remote and hybrid working would make their organization more successful, executives largely said they were concerned about the impact of remote working on company culture.

One of the ways HR can improve the remote employee experience is to revamp the company’s onboarding process. Onboarding is often an employee’s first real experience with a company’s culture, but 62% of employees recorded by Eagle Hill in February said their onboarding experience did not give them a clear sense of what that culture was like. What respondents said they wanted from an onboarding experience included more information on performance measurement, mental and physical health resources, and details on workplace changes caused by the pandemic, among others.

In a remote workplace, HR can provide managers with leadership training that teaches them how to connect with direct reports in a remote environment. Some of these strategies include implementing targeted follow-ups after meetings and increasing informal check-ins with workers.