Team members can still wear a company uniform and name badge that identifies them as an employee, said Goeppner, but with the policies supporting the individual, they have found their customers have engaged with them in new ways because they found them relatable.
“As independent businesses, our goal is to directly connect with the community we serve. It is more important now than ever that our employees represent them,” he said.
A company’s culture should touch every aspect of their business including job postings, the interview process, onboarding and training along with communications, accountability practices and the other day-to-day operations. Implementing this can be as simple as casting the overall vision for the direction of the company and nurturing it through the different aspects.
“Here’s the bottom line,” said Goeppner. “Historically, companies have expected employees to fit the mold of their employment, but moving into the future, candidates and employees will expect companies to adapt to the individualism of their teams.”
He said, “be willing to listen to their concerns and strategically answer their issues in a way that best supports them first, which in return will benefit the company.”
There are challenges along the way, as this retail regional manager is finding.
“The level of support for employees has increased significantly over the last decade,” said Goeppner, “and is going to continue to increase over the next few years.”
There isn’t a cookie cutter approach, or one size fits all method that owners and operators are able to lean into. He said operators must rely on the open and honest feedback from their employees and pivot in real time to address these areas of needed support.
“Carve space for others as a practice of considering every employee’s perspective on any standard that they may agree or disagree with,” said Goeppner. This “collective voice,” as he calls it, helps business ensure they can provide a positive work environment that cultivates a culture encouraging individuals to be themselves while contributing to company goals.
Employee compensation, benefits, time off and work-life balance are all ways a company’s culture can either be challenged or praised, he said, and added: Lean into the uncomfortable measures that would have never fit in your old style of employment.
“There was a lot of value in the previous model of employment and company cultures,” said Goeppner, “but moving forward, the old way isn’t going to work when soliciting dedicated, engaged employees.”