How Refael Edry’s story of courage and resilience will help you build the best work culture
The recent pandemic has changed business operations in more ways than we can comprehend. Traditional offices that resembled cubicle farms no longer appeal to employees. Instead, they demand a hybrid workplace where they can choose when and where they work.
That, in turn, has compelled business leaders and managers to overhaul their existing workplace culture. In a hybrid work environment, offering in-office amenities, such as communal spaces, games rooms, and organic cafes, isn’t enough.
Instead, you must build a work culture that’s equitable and fair. Also, you must think of your employees as more than resources that get work done. It’s crucial to prioritize their physical and mental well-being and provide them with an environment to grow.
While there’s no secret formula to building work culture, you can take a few cues from Refael (aka Rafi) Edry’s life. An accomplished businessman, Refael Edry runs several companies in Africa and Israel. But his professional achievements barely do justice to his tumultuous journey to the top.
If you’re looking for ways to improve or transform your workplace culture, here are a few lessons from Refael Edry’s life to help you get started:
Create Equal Opportunities
Refael Edry was still getting the hang of adulthood when he had to shoulder the responsibility of providing for his family. That meant giving up his dream of pursuing higher education and getting a respectable job. Even as a successful entrepreneur, he can still relate to the pain of deprivation.
That’s what motivated him to start the Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities. Through the organization, philanthropist Refael Edry and his younger brothers, Eyal Edry and Moshe Edree, work on various initiatives to help the youth in Israel’s periphery.
They’ve launched various scholarships and mentoring programs to ensure that children and adolescents from impoverished backgrounds have access to the same resources as children in Israel’s developed areas.
As a business leader, you must implement similar strategies to provide equal opportunities to all employees, irrespective of their location and job profile.
If part of your workforce is co-located while the rest works remotely, employees in the office might get an unfair advantage. Their efforts and hard work are more visible, which, in turn, makes them more likely to receive bonuses and promotions. Also, they have better access to data, systems, and tools they need to do their jobs.
On the other hand, remote workers miss out on those opportunities and resources for no fault of their own. It’s up to you to establish open lines of communication and understand the challenges they’re facing at work. Also, identify the tools and other resources they need to complete their work.
You can even provide them with equipment (like computers and smartphones) to make it easier for them to work from home. Additionally, give them an equal chance to share their feedback and opinions during team meetings.
Empathize With the Workforce
Refael Edry didn’t launch the Ahinoam Association to receive worldwide recognition. Instead, his social endeavors are the result of his compassion and empathy for those around him. He imbibed these qualities from his uncle (after whom he was named).
Refael Edry z|l (the uncle) was a fearless warrior who fought in Israel’s War of Independence. His love and compassion for his fellow citizens drove him to sacrifice his life at the young age of 24.
Despite witnessing the epitome of success, Refael Edry (the nephew) is still familiar with the hardships that children in Israel’s periphery face. A thorough understanding of these problems has helped him launch the right welfare initiatives to help these children.
Similarly, business leaders must delve deeper into their employees’ lives and get a glimpse of their struggles beyond work. Find out whether they have additional caregiving or parenting responsibilities. Check whether they’re dealing with any mental health issues that are affecting their performance.
Empathizing with your employees will help you perceive them as living, breathing humans with real-life problems. That, in turn, will help you create a work environment that accommodates their unique needs and puts their well-being first.
Learn to Predict Problems
The key to productive work culture is to spot and resolve problems before they spiral out of control. That requires you to develop an eye for problem-spotting like Refael Edry, who didn’t wait for the Israeli government’s help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, he quickly realized that the shift to online classes would force children from low-income households to quit schooling. They’ll grow up to become resentful adults with no faith in the system.
Instead of waiting for the government to step forward, he launched a fundraising initiative, urging ordinary citizens and local businesses to contribute. The campaign helped thousands of children continue their education by providing them with personal computers.
Similarly, business leaders, managers, and employers must develop a knack for predicting and resolving problems on the go. Don’t wait for employees to point out what’s missing in your work culture. Instead, take proactive steps to identify and bridge the gaps. You can find more tips on Refael Edry’s Pinterest page.
Building a productive company culture in a hybrid work environment isn’t straightforward. But you can take inspiration from Refael Edry and create equal opportunities for co-located and remote employees.
Identify potential problems and take the necessary preventive steps to create a frictionless work environment. Lastly, empathize with your employees and give them the freedom to share their thoughts, opinions, and struggles.