CASE STUDY

Building Strong Workplace Culture in Hybrid Work Environments

It’s no secret that the pandemic has changed the way public sector agencies work and do business. Public sector organizations continue to face supply chain issues and increased prices of supplies, all while having to manage work environments that balance employee safety and constituents' needs.

It’s a delicate balance to maintain and employees have spoken about what their ideal work environment is: 83% of workers say they prefer a hybrid work model, according to a recent study by Accenture.

However, this is easier said than done and many public sector organizations face challenges when creating a hybrid work culture. Continue reading to learn how public sector organizations can build a strong workplace culture that fosters employee satisfaction and productivity, regardless of where employees work.

Why Strong Workplace Culture Matters

Why should public sector agencies care about measuring an organization’s work culture? In today’s hybrid work environment, workplace culture is essential because it either enhances or diminishes employee performance, which in turn impacts constituents.

There are several benefits of a strong work culture, such as:

  • Increased employee retention rate
  • Enhanced recruitment of top-rated talent
  • Improved employee engagement and performance.

It's short, it’s vital for employees to feel connected at work, especially when they work from home and may not have the opportunity to have organic, impromptu conversations with colleagues or mentors in the hallway.

Top Challenges Public Sector Agencies Face When Building a Strong Workplace Culture in Hybrid Work Environments

Creating a great workplace culture in public sector agencies can be difficult. One challenge is that remote employees often feel excluded and second class compared to in-office employees. Some employees worry that there is a bias against remote workers and that they could lose opportunities for career advancement and mentorship if they aren't present in the office.

Another barrier is that a separated workforce means there are fewer opportunities for face-to-face interactions that can build trust and help employees bond and feel like part of a team — what many refer to as "water cooler" conversations. After all, a good work culture begins with shared experiences and learning. But a fragmented workforce can make this more difficult if an organization doesn't take intentional steps to create an inclusive hybrid workplace where all workers can thrive.

So, how do we get around these barriers?

Tips for Building Workplace Culture in Hybrid Work Environments

All employees, whether they work remotely or in-office, should be given opportunities to connect with their peers, build meaningful connections and access professional development. Here are some tips for circumventing the challenges public sector organizations face when building a better hybrid workplace culture:

Be Deliberate with Definitions When Creating a Workplace

Make vocalizing your organization’s workplace culture as important as getting your elevator pitch down. Get input from employees and supervisors on how they would define a collaborative and successful hybrid work culture. The company culture becomes a vocalized and vital component of success.

Build a Process that is Easy to Repeat

Competition for the best talent is tough. That's why creating an onboarding process that guides new employees through hiring, mentoring and training and sets them up for success is essential. What things can you do to make new employees feel like a vital part of the organization? Talk about company culture with them and let them connect with other seasoned employees. Give each new employee a mentor who can help them make new connections and see where they fit into the agency.

Develop an Expanded Engagement Model

Hybrid work environments require a different level of engagement to enhance collaboration. Employees who are engaged are much more invested in their success and the company as a whole.

Hybrid workplaces inevitably lead to fewer opportunities for face-to-face interactions. So, organizations must develop new models for engagement that ensure employees have ample opportunities to connect with peers, mentors, their managers, and other leaders in the organization.

Technology provides the best tools for increasing engagement and collaboration. Public sector organizations should invest in faster internet, larger monitor screens, video conferencing software and other equipment that can enhance communication. Creating organizational norms about how employees are expected to utilize communication tools like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams can help increase productivity and teamwork.

Key Takeaways

The hybrid work environment is here to stay, so it’s critical to focus on creating a strong workplace culture that is inclusive and fosters teamwork and collaboration.

However, creating a strong work culture takes time and concerted efforts. Public sector organizations need to find solutions to the most common barriers that make remote employees feel excluded. Invest in technology that can bring teams together with more face-to-face interactions even if they aren’t in the office together. Ensure that employees feel that they have equal access to professional development and other opportunities for career advancement, regardless of whether they work in the office or remotely.

Increasing engagement in a hybrid work environment requires different engagement models than traditional office environments. Instilling company culture in employees as soon as they begin work and assigning them a mentor can help them feel important and included from the start.

By following these best practices, you can begin to build a strong hybrid workplace culture that makes your public sector organization more desirable to work for and improves constituent satisfaction.

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Regina W. Romeo

Ms. Romeo has more than 20 years of experience in public sector human resources as an analyst, manager and director. In her role as Chief Human Resources Officer, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day HR operations and organizational development for CPS while also consulting and managing special projects for clients. Regina has worked for both large and small public sector agencies and brings a unique perspective and real-world experience to her role.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.