How To Build An Inclusive Remote Culture

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You have to make an effort, says Fernanda Anzek, HR leader for Insperity, but the benefits are worth it.

Creating a “culture by design, as opposed to default” is critical to ensuring an inclusive—and thriving—workplace in today’s remote or hybrid environments, according to Fernanda Anzek, managing director of human resources and DEI services with Insperity, a Houston-based provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

Anzek spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about how to set employees up for success, why that needs to be leaders’ first consideration and how HR departments can make sense of changing regulations.

In your experience, how can employers create equity in a hybrid workplace?

Business leaders should keep culture top of mind when managing hybrid workplaces. When corporate values and best practices are consistently demonstrated and applied in hybrid work environments, in-person and remote employees should be equally positioned for success. Along those lines, one of the first things to address is making sure all employees have the proper tools, technology and skills to succeed. 

To ensure equity, managers must be intentional about identifying each employee’s professional goals, strengths and skill gaps in order to allocate available resources and development opportunities needed to reach equal outcomes of success. For example, remote employees may have more technological/internet connectivity issues and lack of skills to troubleshoot them. Leaders should ensure remote workers have the proper support to overcome these obstacles, so they are on a level playing field with their co-workers.

When employers provide individuals with tools to do their jobs, access to leadership, a sense of community and clear communication, employees can thrive. By implementing these considerations, companies can ensure equal opportunities for development and advancement for everyone.

What is the key to developing a good team and a strong culture? 

One of the most important things that business leaders can do is get their culture right because it affects all aspects of business operations. A culture by design, as opposed to default, that is based on core values that guide behaviors and business decisions, is a powerful driver of corporate success. When the culture is right, there is a strong foundation for everything else to fall in place, especially great teams. 

Two keys to developing great teams are practicing servant leadership and establishing clear and consistent two-way communication based on corporate values. Companies will make significant strides in establishing long-term loyalty and trust by providing a workplace that values their employees and open communication. When everyone is on the same page and pointed in the right direction, team bonding and camaraderie increase, which can result in reaching team and company goals. 

What can employers do to ensure compliance with ever-changing laws, regulations and standards?  

For businesses, complying with the alphabet soup of employment-related laws and regulations can be overwhelming and typically involves a team of in-house HR professionals, along with the services of employment law attorneys. There is not a single source that provides updates on ever-changing laws, so HR teams must join numerous organizations and subscribe to various resources that cover local, state and federal legislation that is applicable to specific industries. 

However, this approach is not only time consuming, but it also requires a lot of resources that can be too expensive for many companies. A more strategic and cost-effective approach is to use the services of a professional employer organization, which provides a comprehensive range of HR solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses. By outsourcing HR to a PEO, it not only helps business owners remain in compliance, but it also helps them take care of their people. A PEO provides a team of HR professionals that strategically guides and supports owners and in-house HR leaders.

What considerations should be taken for out-of-state employees?  

Companies that have multi-state operations and/or hire remote workers in other states have significantly raised the stakes when it comes to employment-related government compliance. This is especially relevant and can be easily overlooked as employers continue to face the challenges of the Great Resignation and hire remote workers in multiple states. While the situation may seem insurmountable, this is again one of the reasons why using a PEO is a wise move for business leaders to keep up with ever-changing rules and regulations. 

Some of the main areas that can vary by city and state include payroll processing, benefits requirements, wage and hour laws and discrimination laws. In addition, there are some emerging city and state trends that sometimes make sense to follow companywide, not only from a compliance standpoint, but also from an employee hiring and retention perspective.

For example, salary transparency laws require employers to include the minimum and maximum starting salary for any advertised job, promotion or transfer opportunity. Conversely, salary history legislation prohibits employers from asking job seekers for salary history on applications and during the recruiting and hiring process.

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