By Emmanuel Zvada
THE COVID-19 pandemic has had tremendous effects on workplace culture. Building company culture has been tough for organisations throughout the pandemic as employees were not working from the same place.
Most companies have been failing to build strong cultures during the pandemic but post-COVID-19, employers need to find ways to encourage workplace relationships that work for the team. With the pandemic forcing organisations to radically change how they work, creating a positive workplace culture has become an urgent priority for businesses everywhere.
Defining company culture
An organisation’s culture defines the proper way to behave within it.
This entails having a set of behavioural and procedural norms that can be observed within a company which include policies, procedures, ethics, values, employee behaviour and attitudes, goals and code of conduct.
It’s crucial to note that most company cultures make up the “personality” of a company and defines the work environment.
With a strong company culture, employees understand the expected outcomes and behaviours and act accordingly.
Conversely, an ineffective culture can bring down the organisation and its leadership.
Disengaged employees, high turnover, poor customer relations and lower profits are examples of how a wrong culture can negatively impact the bottom line.
Company culture and the new demands for leaders
As many workplaces begin to bring people back to the office after COVID-19 lockdown, it’s a great time to consider how the organisation’s culture has changed.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many employees have experienced something different. Pre-pandemic, employees accepted the need to commute to work everyday and 18 months later, employees of every generation know better how to do the same work in a more flexible way.
Many organisations have thrived under autonomous working conditions. To some industries, virtual work is now probably here to stay in some form and as virtual work becomes the norm, how culture is built without day-to-day interactions will matter most especially post-COVID-19.
Leaders must consider how their culture will help them navigate the new reality and then take advantage of the strengths of their culture to develop new ways to win in the marketplace.
Remote work and company culture
The future of work looks to be moving towards remote and hybrid work environments and getting this right will make your company more attractive.
As the pandemic eases and the recovery starts, leaders can also assess how their culture is responding to the new norm.
The pandemic triggered a new era of remote working. As we emerge from a season of workplace culture disruption, it is time for organisations to refresh workplace culture and get employees excited about working together again and reuniting to create a bright future.
Whether you are bringing people back into the office, embracing remote work for the long-term or having a hybrid workplace model or team-building activities, this can help reboost your corporate culture and re-energise your employees as we enter a new era of work.
Make sure you are building a culture you believe in
Building or maintaining a company culture is not an easy task. The reality is that if you don’t believe in it, no one will.
As a leader, you may focus on building a company culture that you and your team can be proud of.
Make sure you trust the culture you are establishing and take this chance to eliminate wrong cultural norms in your company.
A positive company culture needs constant tending, and direction.
You should make it a regular occurrence to review how things are going, and what areas you should focus on.
Sharing your vision and soliciting honest feedback from employees even when that feedback is negative has a profoundly positive impact on company culture.
The invitation to share and be heard is a critical component of any healthy company culture.
Ensure value alignment
It’s been proven time and again that employees that feel happy and connected are far more productive than unhappy employees.
Employees are seeking workplaces where they can intertwine their beliefs with those of the company, and work together on a common vision of purpose and success.
When we align employees with the company’s values, it is more likely that there will be a shared culture and productivity and performance will be enhanced.
Companies with strong values are more strategically aligned and adapt quicker to dynamic environments. A high level of organisational alignment is essential for achieving increasingly better business performance results, now and in the future.
Employees must feel connected, involved, supported and, therefore, engaged with the organisation.
At its best, cultural alignment is an emotional and motivational energiser but there are also costs and consequences for cultural misalignment.
Transparency and building trust with your employees
The pandemic has changed the operating environment and sometimes the business models of many companies.
In that regard, companies should disclose information about the new operating environment and any changes to their business model, strategic objectives, and management of sustainability issues.
Trust is difficult but important. It is an essential foundation for effective teamwork.
If the members of a virtual workforce don’t feel their leaders trust them, the team will not function well.
Without transparency, employees may feel under-appreciated, worried about the future of their employment, and doubtful of the decisions made by those in positions of authority.
Make a point to share all the neccesary information with them on a regular basis so that they feel they are an important part of the business, this will also help in shaping an inclusive culture.
Employee upskilling and reboarding
Culture change is difficult but the importance of fostering a great company culture can’t be over-emphasised.
Companies that fail to place importance on their internal culture especially post-COVID-19, or that allow a toxic culture to grow and spread, are bound to experience a myriad of difficulties.
Company culture is the backbone of any successful organisation and you should know that you can have all the right strategies in the world but if you don’t have the right culture, you are dead.