Q: Over the past year, what extra actions have you taken to strengthen your company’s culture and keep employees engaged, motivated and happy at work?

Nancy Schmidt, CEO, AIA Corporation

“Employees are the heart and soul of our company. They make AIA a great place to work, learn, share and grow–and they position our owners to thrive. Culture and communication were critical for us during the past year.

“At the start of remote work, we established our top priorities as a leadership team: 1) Be visible and accessible, and 2) Encourage all leaders and managers to be intentional about connecting with their team members on a personal level. Every team member’s pandemic experience was unique, and we wanted to respect those differences. 

“We spent a lot of time talking about expectations, underscoring the importance of our behavior as leaders in cultivating an empowered culture. And we increased the frequency of our communication while elevating the quality of our interactions. By strengthening our internal communication strategy, we were able to drive better connections across the team despite physical distance. 

“We initiated weekly virtual all-company huddles in addition to our monthly all-company meetings at the start; we’ve since scaled back to just hosting monthly all-company meetings. We also invested in connections—helping our team members build social capital remotely – by hosting informal virtual coffees. And we devoted time and attention to recognizing and rewarding strong performance—and having fun as a team. Taken together, these actions have engaged our team and sustained our culture in an unpredictable year.”