How to maintain a strong company culture in times of change?

2020 has definitely been a roller coaster ride for all of us. From pastoral to urban, from young to old, from restaurants to salons, from our veggies to the market we get it from, COVID-19 has caused organisations across the world to take the biggest hit of all times. From our past few months of experience during the pandemic, we have been talking to a lot of HR leaders from some of the largest organisations across Asia. One common worry is that everyone was concerned about the culture that they took years to built-in is now under question, and there is a threat to the office work culture due to everything being remote now.

HR leaders have invested years in cultivating an effective culture that is both strategically relevant, because it prioritizes the behaviors essential to the success of your business, and strong, in the sense that employees believe that it is real and value it. This type of culture helps organisations attract and retain great talent and contribute to higher growth in bottom-line performance.

But can COVID-19 really weaken a culture that has taken years to build? Will your organisation culture take a hit because people can’t meet in person, since it will be difficult to share their own beliefs? How can you continue to create and use your organisation culture when your whole employees are working remotely?

A strategically aligned and highly valued culture will not help you unless you also develop a culture that is adaptive in real-time. Research has shown that organisations that were strategically aligned, strong, and had built in the capacity to adapt quickly to dynamic environments earned 15% more in annual revenue compared to their competitors in the same industry.

Developing a culture that is adaptive in real-time can help in dealing with a crisis. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

HR Leaders must think in lines of cultural adaptability which reflects an organization’s ability to innovate, experiment, and quickly take advantage of new opportunities on the way during such unprecedented moments. Leaders must continue to cultivate their company’s culture to help people stay focused on the most important initiatives.

Here are ways in which HR leaders can focus on to support them in building a culture which can weather a storm like COVID. 

  • Hire and promote people who are flexible, adaptable, and work great under pressure.
  • Talk about different ways in which org is adhering to its cultural values through new practices
  • Value your employees extra work by giving them bonus 
  • Host virtual team building events
  • Create a dedicated space for employees to connect
  • Share an HR newsletter communicating all events and activities
  • Recognise people across the organisation for good work done
  • Involve employee families and take care of them during such times

The commitment of a corporate leadership team is critical to the effective construction of a virtual team. New and different opportunities to build a team culture may seem difficult to do remotely at first, but it’s worth the extra effort to keep everyone connected and productive. In addition, when leaders strategically design virtual team building activities, they can strengthen their commitment to the team by providing valuable communication.

Effective communication defines work culture

Effective communication between team members is important in work culture. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The work culture of a company is defined by the effective communication between team members during the times of uncertainty. To operate effectively, a team needs a clear communication from the team lead. The leader can set the necessary expectations they want from their team, keep them updated with all the necessary information that is happening within the team and the organisation and set up proper 360-degree feedback.

The organisation needs to keep a check on the transparency in the team members. Are they having access to all the facts and figures of the organisation? Are they not being overloaded with information and making them feel insecure? Is anyone facing impostor syndrome and are not aware of his or her achievement? You need to broaden your line of communication to include feedback while also maintaining employee autonomy in the remote setup. By arranging for a virtual meeting and getting into a casual conversation, it helps to break the curse of misunderstandings due to long email chains and communication breakdown.

Running a company is difficult in times of crisis, but it would leave a great impression on the employees’ morales when done right. As rightly said by Charles Darwin – “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change.”. Adaptability is the key to embracing the change, bringing in new techniques, new forms of communication to strengthen your employee morale and overall organizational culture to prepare you for whatever lies ahead.

Parishmita Chakrabarty is a writer, chef and generally awkward with public speaking. She is found mostly reading, daydreaming, or nitpicking on someone’s grammar. She has spent around 5 years being a copywriter, content marketer. researcher. She is particularly passionate about HR practices, psychology and human behaviour in general, and that’s what drives her to write about it every day. Ruskin Bond, Sylvia Plath and Neil Gaiman are among her favourite writers.

Disclaimer: This article was written by a community contributor. All content is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the interviewee herself. If you’d like to contribute, you can apply here

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