How is your company responding to the changing employee/employer dynamics?

[Nashville, TN] October 23, 2023
— Increasingly, businesses are being called to create work environments that help employees thrive not just professionally, but personally as well, and to thoughtfully consider how they can make a positive impact on the world around them. While those two things are technically separate initiatives, improvements in one of those areas often have a positive impact on the other, and on the organization as a whole.

Creating a sustainable employee-centric workplace takes into consideration a multitude of organizational aspects, actions, and systems, such as:

  • Overall company culture
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Skills development
  • Client demands
  • Social impact
  • And more…

Andrea Yanicky, Director of Human Resources at InfoWorks, Inc., a business consulting firm offering management, technology, application development, and data consulting services in the mid-south, has recently launched new initiatives, doubling down on the company’s award-winning commitment to employee satisfaction. InfoWorks has earned workplace awards the last 11 consecutive years.

Asked what she attributes to their long-term success, Yanicky states, “It starts with leadership that appreciates their employees and prioritizes supporting them in tangible ways and being purposeful in recruiting. Ultimately though, our employees are the ones with the drive and dedication to keep challenging themselves and adding value to our company.”

Speaking specifically from a work environment perspective, while compensation and title changes are a great place to start, leaders need to dig deeper to affect meaningful change for employees in the workplace.

Below, Yanicky shares tips and best practices for creating and maintaining a workplace culture that will help businesses attract and retain top talent.

How to Establish an Employee-Centric Workplace Culture

Yanicky encourages companies to keep a few important things in mind as they embark on the mission to build a strong company culture.

Organization Size and Resources

First and foremost, the size of the organization and resources available will dictate the types and pace of employee support initiatives an organization is able to undertake. Those with fewer resources should focus on making small, incremental improvements as an alternative for waiting on resources to make larger changes. They’ll likely find that employees will respond positively even to small changes, especially if leadership is willing to be transparent about their intentions and limitations.

When considering the investment required to initiate culture enhancing projects, don’t forget to factor in the cross-functional benefits. Yanicky shared that InfoWorks credits their strong company culture with employee longevity and client satisfaction. For example, by taking advantage of ongoing professional development opportunities, their consultants are able to expand their expertise and better meet client needs.

Voice of the Employee

Hearing the voice of the employee is an important factor and something InfoWorks takes seriously. They recently launched a coaching program based on feedback from employees, who also participated in developing it. Says Yanicky, “Where possible, involving employees in the development and structure of initiatives that directly impact them is powerful. It helps ensure effort is focused on areas of importance for employees and those involved in the development can be strong advocates to promote buy-in from the rest of the team.”

Yanicky suggests utilizing anonymous employee satisfaction surveys to assess morale and overall job satisfaction. Emphasizing that the survey is anonymous and that you are looking for honest feedback to direct future initiatives will empower employees to share freely. Including a question that asks respondents to rank a list of possible workplace improvement projects can be a great way to gauge interest and spur thought on the topic.

Below is a deep dive into some of the initiatives InfoWorks, Inc. has put in place.

Effective and Sustainable Strategies to Create a Strong Workplace Culture

1. Establish an Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP)

An ESOP is a unique opportunity for all employees to have ownership in their company and participate in the company’s rewards and risks. ESOPs boost engagement, increase productivity, contribute to business longevity and employee retention, and play a big part in setting the stage for a strong company culture.

InfoWorks first established its ESOP in 2010 at 20% ownership. By 2012, the company was 100% employee-owned. We find it a differentiator when recruiting new employees. Current employees have shared that they are more invested in client satisfaction and feel more responsibility for the success of the company.

Benefits of an ESOP in sustaining a positive employee-centric culture:

    • Unique Opportunity – Only about 6,500 United States companies offer ESOPs. Data shows companies with ESOP plans have higher success and survival rates.
    • Investment & Empowerment – When employees own a portion of their company, it encourages them to go above and beyond at work. They become personally invested in ensuring the stock and organization perform well. As a result, production naturally improves, and client satisfaction typically does as well.
    • Engagement – Because employee owners are more invested in the company’s success, they are more likely to speak positively about the company on and off the clock. Their drive and excitement are like a walking advertisement for your business.

2. Diversity of Talent

Companies with a more diverse talent pool statistically have a better culture and increased productivity. Employing those with different backgrounds in life, expertise, and career specialties positively contributes to a healthier culture.

Yanicky shared, “Recruiting should be intentional and purposeful – like building a sustainable employee-centric culture, recruiting practices and strategies should include a wide variety of candidates. When recruiting talent, we look for a wide variety of past experiences and future interests but make sure that the foundation of a great attitude, growth-minded aptitude, and unwavering integrity are non-negotiable characteristics candidates possess.

3. General Flexibility

In order to be a flexible and competitive workplace, companies need a workforce willing to change and shift. Leadership can help instill a healthy attitude toward change in their workforce by exemplifying their own willingness to explore and adapt as goals or situations dictate.

InfoWorks had to go through some exciting, but uncomfortable, changes this past year as we implemented a new title and career framework structure along with compensation model changes in response to what our employees were asking for. Preparation, communication, and transparency throughout the implementation of these changes is what enabled these implementations to be as successful as they have been. An appreciation for a leadership team that listens to its employees has been rewarding for the time and effort that went into these significant company-wide changes.

4. Well-Developed Onboarding

  • New hire sponsor for first 90 days
  • Robust onboarding plan and detailed expectation for the first 30, 60, and 90 days
  • Coaching program for people to connect & grow
  • Hyper focus on professional development (i.e., certifications, degrees, seminars, professional orgs, conferences)
  • Negotiation
  • Facilitation
  • Training platforms (Pluralsight, DataCamp, LMS, LinkedIn Learning, etc.) – everyone has an outlet

The above is a self-generating strategy to influence connections and thorough training. The side effects create rapport and collaborations, ultimately resulting in loyalty to the organization and each other.

Bottom Line

Over the last few years, there has been this Great Resignation era, where a large percentage of employees in the workforce voluntarily left their jobs for new opportunities. This era was in part fueled by higher pay, ample available open positions, and more work-from-home options. Employees could fulfill their bucket list.

Now, we are experiencing a pendulum swing. The last year has seen major layoffs across a handful of industries, which has reduced job security.

As you work to fill necessary roles with the best talented and diverse candidates, it’s imperative to define and build a workplace culture which empowers employees, encourages them to invest in their future in your company, and is flexible.

If you work for your own company, even in times of changing economic stress and climate, think about how you structure your company ownership and the best strategies you may implement to influence a sustainable and wonderful workplace focused on employees first.

About InfoWorks

InfoWorks is a leading business consulting firm founded in 1997 with a mission of improving the consulting experience for clients and consultants. We utilize a relationship-focused consulting style that incorporates a process of listening to gain a thorough understanding of client needs and maintain constant alignment throughout the engagement. This enables us to deliver innovative solutions that solve challenges and drive growth. We work across operations and management, technology and cloud development, and data and analytics services to provide custom solutions that impact long and short-term business goals.

Visit InfoWorks to learn more or follow on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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