By Anna Binder, Head of People at Asana

The dramatic shift to remote work over the past year has exacerbated workers’ struggles with productivity and mental health. As workers have adjusted to the new way of work, distraction and disruption persist across organizations and employees’ personal lives, resulting in missed deadlines and high levels of burnout. 

What can we do now to make our teams effective and resilient moving forward, no matter what the future holds? According to Asana’s Annual Anatomy of Work Index, 7 in 10 workers feel they’d be better equipped to hit targets with clear processes on managing work. In other words, employers must find new and lasting ways to support their employees in an all-digital world, including empowering teams with the tools they need to stay aligned and engaged as distributed teams..

But a culture cannot thrive on tools alone. Attracting and retaining talent, with a focus on diversity and inclusion, requires a“people-first” approach, focused on both tools and culture. When we invest in both our processes and our culture, we fuel business success.

Workplace culture is a critical part of every organization’s DNA: It’s the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes who you are and how you will succeed. From the language used in your job descriptions to the transparency of leadership communications, investing in a culture where people feel heard and supported is what ultimately drives business success.

Building an industry-leading employee experience doesn’t happen overnight. It takes dedicated resources and investment in both your culture and the tools your team uses to collaborate and connect. Some key steps companies can take include:

  • Hire a Head of D&I early in your company’s life – Bring that expertise in-house and start the work early to create an environment where different points of view are not only welcomed, but encouraged.
  • Create clear employee onboarding practices – Be religious about creating space for employees to explore, connect, and learn, including events and activities that allow employees to connect in psychologically safe spaces. Invest in the onboarding process as opposed to just making sure a person adds value quickly. The more senior the person, the more important it is to be intentional about the experience.
  • Build a culture where feedback is the norm – If you don’t have internal feedback channels and peer-to-peer review opportunities, employees will be more inclined to go to external channels to voice their concerns. When employees share feedback outside of the company, you’re limited in how you can engage with it, understand the context of it, and potentially action it. The People team should treat the development of culture like a product – with a human-centered approach to continuously create, iterate and launch programs that support a living, breathing and evolving culture. 
  • Commit to clarity – Provide regular updates from leadership that enable employees to understand the business goals and mission that their work contributes to on a daily basis. HR has a responsibility to connect people’s work back to the company’s mission.
  • Co-create solutions – The People team should take time to understand context, hear perspectives, and investigate data in order to discern root cause and make decisions. Collaborate with cross-functional stakeholders to build programs specifically and mindfully designed to meet your employees’ unique needs.
  • Establish your essential company tech stack – As work remains distributed, employees need the tools and technologies they use to make it easy for them to be as productive and connected to their teammates as possible. To deliver the best possible experience to our employees, consolidate company-wide tool usage into your most essential tools.
  • Invest in community building – People seek communities within the workplace, so be prepared to create those spaces. The People team has full responsibility for programs, language, partnerships, and policies to help foster these communities. 

At Asana, our values are our north star, and our business goals are designed to align with those values. One year into remote work, it’s clear that a world-class employee experience is not defined by your goals, values, and people alone. With the right tools in place, you can create the processes that bring your culture to life, helping workers feel connected to one another, along with your business goals and company values.