How to Prioritise and Preserve your Company Culture During Uncertain Times

Company culture has always been one of the Top 3 essentials (apart from pay scale and professional development) for evaluating one’s best job prospects. 

Well, who knew 2020 would turn it into the most important factor among job seekers.

57 percent of job seekers across all career levels consider company culture to be as important as pay.

-A study from Virginia-based Hinge Research Institute

In the easiest language, company culture is how our company makes us feel. 

More often than not, company culture is mistaken to be only about the events, parties, and tangible gifts offered to the employees. However, in reality, culture is not something defined by office activities, office activities are what reflect the culture- and it is so much more and beyond them.

Company culture is about employee experience. Meaning, it must make the employees believe that the company shares the same set of values, goals, attitude, and practice that would push them to be their best selves.

Building a culture and having people to follow it takes a ton of effort in terms of encouraging contribution, productiveness, and a sense of fulfilment among the employees. And to build or retain it in times of change is a whole new level of challenge presented to HRs.

Why You Need to Prioritise Company Culture

Ever since the pandemic came into the picture, remote work has become the new reality of our daily schedules. In such times where employees are working from home, it is the key responsibility of HRs to come up with feasible measures that prioritise and maintain their experience away from the office.

The main reason to prioritise the maintenance of a company’s prevailing culture in a dynamic period is, to create a level of persistence among employees for achieving company goals. It also serves as a major contributor in engaging employees who feel deranged due to constant personal and professional “change”. 

“Helping your employees stay connected to the complete vision and goals of the company promotes the feeling of being a part of something that is bigger than themselves— this makes for a must-have for employee engagement.”

Another reason for prioritising culture is to preserve a sense of organisational trust. If employees start to feel that a period of change is strong enough to alter the company’s culture which is being followed for years, they might lose the sense of belongingness. 

In times of change, employees need to feel connected and safe among their respective teams and in the organisation as a whole to feel secured. Nothing can beat the level of influence that a well-understood team environment has on boosting an employee’s connection with the company.

According to a survey conducted by global customer experience and digital solutions provider TELUS International, a majority of respondents (51 percent) felt less connected to their company culture while working remotely as a result of the pandemic.

Undoubtedly, it is much easier to build and strengthen culture in-person considering the emphasis physical presence has on human emotions. Even still, there are certain measures that HRs and C-suite executives can take to preserve the company culture in a remote setting.

Steps to Prioritise and Preserve Company Culture 

-Start from scratch

The simple effort to onboard employees with a well-planned orientation can make a huge difference in sustaining the company’s culture. The initial days of a new employee are deemed to be critical to cement adaptation of roles, values, and goals. If an employee’s onboarding experience is clear and knowledgeable where every team member showcases their interest in mutual growth- they are more likely to captivate the company’s core cultural beliefs about communication, employee success, and teamwork. 

Not only is this measure inexpensive, but it also helps in cost saving. According to a recent study, effective onboarding programs that put an emphasis on inculcating company culture are seen to increase retention rates by as much as 25 percent. Moreover, statistically, when replacing an employee can cost anywhere from 5.8 to 213 percent of their salary, it literally pays to pay attention to strong onboarding techniques.

-Keep the communication channels alive

According to the TELUS international survey, 57 percent of participants miss having small talks and interactions with colleagues in the office while 53 percent simply crave in-person collaboration with their teams while working remotely.

Humans are social creatures and we need to have a proper socialising channel to function effectively- both personally and professionally. 

In order to establish a healthy communication channel, leaders must make sure that nobody in the workforce feels isolated- new hires and remote workers especially in the virtual scenario. 

  • For this, apart from the tiring zoom calls, tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, and Quip can be used for interaction and chatting.

Additionally, every employee in the organisation must feel comfortable raising issues, sharing feedback, and making suggestions. 

  • One of the ways to do so is by recreating the office set up at home. Where employees can continue working in the background on a video session and take breaks to chat as and when desired. 

-Make employee recognition top priority

In-office, employees are seen celebrating the smallest of victories. Be it fixing the broken arm of the chair or closing a huge sale, there is someone or the other ready to appreciate and encourage you at each point.

Recognition and appreciation are strong carriers of the culture. Since most people derive some degree of self-worth from the work that they do, it becomes important to display that what they are doing has a role to play in the organisation’s success. Now, this role can be as informal as that of consoling a colleague in hard times or as formal as assisting a boss in a fix. 

When it comes to working remotely, HRs can boost the recognition activities by 

  • Sending emails to the employees celebrating their achievements. This can be done by copying their managers and describing in the mail body how the employee has positively impacted the business. 
  • Another way is to design virtual events for team milestones. Managers or HRs can expense a meal while celebrating this online in a virtual meeting.
  • Making recognition a habit can also do wonders. Sending recurring thank you, recognition, or positive feedback emails can help create a positive employee-manager relationship.

– Include fun in the broader picture

Employees are more than just “workers” and jobs are much more than just a “salary”. 

The pandemic has changed how employees see their jobs. A huge proportion of the workforce, including their friends, being furloughed has had a huge impact on the mental health of employees worldwide.

In such hard times, HRs and managers can show that they care about their employees and help them feel “belonged” with supportive activities and actions. 

These actions may look small from far apart but they are highly effective in recognising employee efforts and setting an example of an appreciative work environment. 

To include fun in the day-to-day work life various innovative small steps can be taken such as 

  • Acknowledging employee contribution and rewarding them with vouchers

“Of course, we keep giving people coffee vouchers so they can keep a little bit of our company in their homes as well, goodies or hampers”

 – Deborah Moschino, Head of HR, Coffee Circle Cafe

  • Conducting virtual pizza lunches, games evenings, karaoke afternoons, pet parties, yoga or fitness classes, virtual volunteering, etc 
  • For parents, having a separate home-schooling session that they can join with their children.
  • Celebrating rituals, ceremonies, festivals, etc virtually as a community.

Keeping company culture alive is the biggest need of the hour in 2021. Managing core company culture in the transitional phases of growth, change or transformation can be a tough job. But with a determined approach and a powerful strategy, businesses can induce just the right amount of engagement, productivity, and belongingness among the employees. 

With the above suggestions, one can keep this lifeblood of an organisation – Company Culture running with lesser to no hindrances.

HRs across the globe have the most powerful role to play in reinforcing their company’s culture, especially in the current Covid scenario. So, if you want to help your team build the lost connection with their organisation, book a call with our expert consultant today to strategise an effective plan.

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