How to create an engaging culture – with Rich Roberts

Maintaining a motivated and engaged team has always been an important consideration, but in a remote world this is more important than ever. In July, we enlisted the help of the wonderful Rich Roberts to present a webinar on how to keep our teams motivated during Covid.  We've collected the main points from Rich's webinar below. We hope you find it useful.

Rich Roberts is an employee engagement and culture specialist and is passionate about building highly motivated and productive teams in both start-ups and larger organisations.

Formerly HR Director and Head of Employee Engagement at Virgin Mobile, he is currently the People Director at sustainable energy provider Pure Planet on a part time basis. He also runs employee engagement consultancy, enRich.

He presents at UK and international conferences on the topics of employee engagement, culture and employer branding, drawing on his experiences at Virgin Mobile, Pure Planet and other organisations.

There is clear evidence that having motivated, engaged and productive teams has a positive impact on the organisation. Employers are starting to look closely at employee engagement with a fresh conviction and sense of purpose – especially now.  

It can hold the key to unlocking productivity and to transforming the working lives of many people for whom Monday morning is an especially low point of the week. You can find the recording of the webinar from earlier this year below, or read our summary points here:

1. Purpose

A business with high engagement is one that has a clear purpose which is expressed beyond mere words. That means real-world action on the issues that are important to the company. At Pure Planet, their purpose is to improve the world through renewable energy and sustainability.

This is expressed in their various schemes aimed at putting those aims into tangible actions. These include a tree planting scheme for every new employee, a work commute carbon offset scheme, and they also organise for their employees trips to schools to talk about sustainability.

2. Leadership

In these difficult times, leaders should rise to the challenge and give a sense of direction to their teams. Those who offer hope and positivity spread these throughout the workplace and become a rallying point for employees. With a vision, a plan, empathy, and understanding, leaders can help prevent disengagement during covid.

3. Value Led Culture

It’s easy for a company to pick a selection of nice-sounding values to put on a poster. But how easy is it to prove they mean something? Choose your values carefully and make sure that they actually mean something to your organisation. Many companies ‘unique values’ are anything but.

At Pure Planet, instead of thinking in values, they chose 6 ways they wanted their employees to feel. They were:

  • To feel their work is meaningful.
  • To feel that they can be themselves.
  • To feel that they are treated equally.
  • To be proud to work there.
  • To feel trusted.
  • To feel they belong to and are part of a team.

Lead by well chosen, positive values, and your team will remain motivated and engaged.

4. Management

A recent survey asked people if they’d rather a new manager or a pay rise. Shockingly, 72% of respondents said they’d prefer a new manager. What does that tell us? That there are a lot of terrible managers out there.

Rich told us that something he often sees as a cause of this lack of managerial talent is that workers are promoted to managerial level based on technical ability and not given the training to bring their people management skills up to speed. There’s nothing better for harming morale than poor management, so make sure to provide training in people management for all your managers.

5. Flexibility

Working life has recently had to mould and adapt to the pressures of social distancing and home working.  On the whole, it would seem that this transition has been fairly smooth. With 57% of survey respondents reporting that they do not want to go back to the old of doing things, it looks like increased flexibility will stay with us. This means that you should start planning for a future in which remote working remains part of your organisation in some form.

6. Connecting

Without the ‘water cooler chat’ and other impromptu conversation of normal office life, staying connected with members of the team doesn’t come without effort. To keep your team engaged and motivated, you must create situations for them to connect with each other and bond that go beyond meetings about strict work business.

At Pure Planet Rich tells us they’ve gone to great lengths to create social spaces online. This includes a ‘Dad Joke’ channel on Slack, a coffee break channel, and even a cheese club.

7. Wellbeing

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s mental health. The effects of which we are yet to fully understand. It’s important during this time to make sure that your employees know that it’s okay to not be okay right now. Make resources and support available to them and keep an eye out for your team.

8. Communication

A team needs a clear sense of plan and direction, and they look to management to provide this. So make sure you’ve communicated the plan effectively and more importantly, listened to feed back from your employees. Communication should go two ways, employees should feel heard and that there opinions are valued.

9. Recruitment

Creating an engaged culture begins with creating a team of likeminded individuals. That means the recruitment process really needs to be thorough so that you can choose those with the right attitude for your organisation. At Pure Planet, Rich tells us that their process is a long one. With 3 interview stages leading up to a final interview with the CEO.

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