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How to sustain and strengthen company culture through times of change

By 11/09/2020January 8th, 2024COVID-19, Culture, Employee Engagement
Strengthen company culture through times of change

Since the start of the pandemic, employees from all across the globe have begun transitioning into new ways of working and connecting with their colleagues. However, with abrupt changes comes an even bigger impact on company culture.

With HR at the heart of a business’ response to disruption, there will undoubtedly be a new remodelling structure in place to factor in remote working and trimming services while at the forefront of these modifications, comes risk to workforce morale.

In response, a positive outlook becomes more crucial than ever before. Maintaining organisational culture and focusing on your values will provide the key support your employees need to ease into the transition, adjust to the new normal and begin building for a post-coronavirus world. Even better yet, this is something that doesn’t cost anything but time and effort to ensure your employees stay completely engaged.

Build on values

Company culture is all about what you and your colleagues think, say, and the actions you do when working together. In conjunction with written and unwritten rules, it reflects the key processes your organisation follows. While not a smart move to make, even if your organisation has no plans in place to develop your culture, it will still develop naturally. This outlines the need to maintain your company culture by setting the right foundation via your values and continually reinforce them.

Needless to say, HR needs to remember that the values you define for your organisation will mean nothing if you don’t intertwine them into everyday work for your employees. If no reinforcement takes place, your culture will evolve on its own, and whether or not this matches your values is a complete potluck draw.

With Natural HR, values, goals, company targets and aims can all be distinguished and communicated across the company on the main dashboard. This helps incorporate employees in the bigger picture, keep them in-line with overall goals and make sure values are at the forefront of everyone’s mind going into the working day.

Create a virtual office environment

As remote and flexible working is being installed as the new normal, employees are spending less time socialising and interacting with their colleagues. Not only can this have a detrimental effect on a team’s drive and work ethic, but trading corridor catch-ups and face-to-face meetings for continuous video calls and slack messages can have a serious impact on a company’s culture.

The current outbreak of COVID-19 has brought with it an underlying factor in how the world of work is operating. In April this year, the UK’s Office for National Statistics found that 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home due to government guidelines (that’s almost half of the UK’s employed population).

While there has been a key push from many businesses to introduce agile business models that provide a quick solution to continue the business’ service as normal, what can HR do to ensure company culture and communication is untouched?

  • Convey culture goals: If all employees have a clear understanding of the corporate vision for the virtual office culture, they’ll have a better understanding of their own goals and expectations.
  • Team building events: Continue to use group video meetings, but most importantly, make them fun! Try involving ideas related to the business industry and involve employee milestones as much as possible, including work anniversaries, new arrivals, contests, book clubs and more.
  • Virtual game nights: Virtual games can provide a new perspective on team building in an exciting manner which provides a competitive outlook for employees. Incorporate scavenger hunts, Kahoot quizzes and card games while providing winners with a small incentive or reward to get involved.
  • Coffee Mornings: Held in the morning, people can join in via shared video calls to have an informal start to a working day, helping each employee to settle in and have a quick catch-up before getting hard at work.
  • Involve employees’ families: Create new channels and forums that indicate the level of personal information which can be shared, but proceed by allowing employees to share photos or funny stories of these new ‘co-workers’.

Keep your people at #1

As many HR professionals have seen over uncertain periods, when in crisis mode, the initial focus on people can easily be overwritten to prioritise new tasks that help adjust to the current situation. This goes without saying: you can’t stay in crisis mode forever. Your employees need HR to continue managing the organisation’s culture with initiatives centred around employees.

It’s important for HR to take this opportunity to broaden their mindset in order to prioritise relationships, recognition and communication to ensure employees are at the forefront of the bigger picture. In a recent Clutch survey, they outlined the values which employees care for most with the most important workplace value for full-time employees being fair pay (55%) and fair treatment (54%).

While it’s clear to see workplace values are key to keeping your employees at the heart of your operations, three other factors closely followed. These involved maintaining a high ethical standard (38%), for the business to be profitable and offer development opportunities (29%) and to make the world a better place (24%).

Nurture your workforce

In a recent podcast hosted by Loop, Perry Timms, a seasoned HR and L&D veteran and TEDx speaker, emphasised the fact we shouldn’t leave remote workers behind when developing our workforce, especially in the current situation.

According to Gartner research, 84% of L&D functions have cancelled in-person training due to COVID-19, and 83% of L&D functions have decided to shift in-person training to virtual. While many organisations were beginning to increase their virtual learning efforts, the pandemic has certainly increased this transition with many HR and L&D leaders anticipating in-person training to never be the same.

HR should be incorporating online learning management systems and encouraging any in-house training to be short, easy-to-use, interactive and fun. This will ensure new workplace virtual practices are well received by employees and allow them to be attentive in an environment that holds many distractions.

Within these sessions, continue to make sure objectives are clear and match an employee’s ambition so they develop the right skills that in turn, help make the organisation more profitable. Natural HR’s all-in-one HR and payroll software can be used to track core competencies and allocate these skills against job roles to help identify any development gaps an employee may have and create a tailored training program to unleash their best potential.

How to continue to manage a company culture effectively?

Now, you should have more of a clear understanding of how to build a solid company culture within times of change and for your remote workforce, but how should HR continue to be an advocate towards promoting their company culture?

  • Recognise and reward your dream team: Find your in-house experts who show the right behaviours and performance which are aligned with your vision and culture.
  • Extended connections: Encourage strong communication between employees at all times, especially for new starters who haven’t had a chance to meet their co-workers. To help this, create mentorship programs and team bonding exercises at any point possible.
  • Believe in the process: As you would expect your employees to stay true to your vision, it’s essential that HR and leaders follow these expectations and remain positive about the culture at all times. After all, if they see leadership slacking, this is going to affect morale all around.
  • A helping hand: Make sure the opportunity for employees to speak about any issues, problems and factors affecting their mental health and wellbeing are presented at all times.
  • The extra mile: Demonstrate culture inside and outside your company. This will involve how your employees are treated, integrated with and the efforts contributed to the local community to send a strong message about the company’s culture.

The need to manage your company’s culture has never been so important, but with major restrictions and limited resources, no one is saying it will be easy. Remember to focus on key talent, develop new leaders, remind everyone of how using these values will benefit the business and most importantly, continue to put your employees first. In incorporating these points, you’ll not only be pushing your culture from strength to strength but making your employees the heartbeat of the organisation once more.

To learn more about being resilient during challenging times, watch our free webinar.

Infographic: 8 core company values

8 core company values that will help shape your business and inspire your employees.