Many of us continue to work from home or are slowly, thoughtfully returning to the workplace. The challenge now – variables that once made up corporate culture are no longer within the companies control the same way they were a few months ago. Now is the perfect time to shape and strengthen your company culture.
Organizational culture is an important part of why people choose to work for a specific company. It is often the reason that keeps them with the company for the long term. More specifically, the culture of an organization is exactly what makes people feel as though they “fit” within a workplace, which can affect happiness, motivation and productivity.
What is culture?
It is a combination of values, assumptions and artifacts. Values encompass your company mission. Assumptions are created through company action and processes that inform what employees and colleagues think. Artifacts take many forms such as, products, services, policies, publications, dress codes, locations and work environment.
Corporate culture is as important as business strategy since it either strengthens or undermines your organization. Right now, as we navigate through an unpredictable time, leaders have the opportunity to shape, cement and leverage their company culture to create the greatest impact for their organizations.
So, how do you manage, maintain and strengthen your company culture during these uncertain times?
Culture is one of the most powerful sources of competitive advantage. What’s new is that for top companies, it has become a guiding light. Culture is hard for competitors to replicate and that is what makes it so powerful. The decisions your company has made and will continue to make in the upcoming weeks and months, are a window into your organization’s culture. They send a strong message about your character, values, goals and business.
Cultivate People and Skills
Culture attracts talent. The most effective company cultures value people and provide career growth. Additionally, it can adapt to meet client needs and deliver great results to shareholders. However, culture is subjective as well. The pandemic has put many cultures to the test as people now have the chance to evaluate if a company’s stated values truly manifest in action.
Leaders have become even more important in shaping perception and engagement among associates and employees. Their role matters a great deal now to the overall culture because people tend to focus on leaders and draw conclusions about company culture based on their choices and actions.
Managing the behaviours that shape your corporate culture is key. Culture is significantly shaped by the worst behaviour it will tolerate. Instead encourage and foster behaviors that demonstrate the values and norms you want to reinforce. Considering colleagues are spread across different locations during the pandemic, it is harder to be aware of employee choices and actions which may make it a challenge to validate the behaviours you want.
Communication and Community
Culture is most effective when companies discuss it openly. At this time, an open discussion about values, how things get done and what’s acceptable is especially vital. When people can gather, it’s typically easier for teams and departments to communicate a sense of common purpose and shared goals. Without this time to be physically working together, businesses must be creative in maintaining a sense of community.
Throughout the pandemic, we have found different ways to connect with coworkers and colleagues. There is a variety of incredibly useful technical options that have allowed us to link up virtually. However, friends, coworkers and colleagues create an essential rapport when we gather together. In order to refine and reinforce company culture as we move forward, meeting face-to-face can have a huge impact on our future in business and personally.
Business centers, like Guinness Business Centre, can be the perfect place to connect with teams and colleagues, while respectfully adhering to policies outlined by health officials. Besides office rental space, many centers offer casual hire of boardrooms and private offices to non-members at competitive prices. It’s an ideal way to host a weekly check in with your team or connect with a colleague on an upcoming project.
Remember, besides lifting morale, a healthy culture is a business driver. Profitability is uncertain. However, any low-input, high-return investment you can make will help sustain your organisation’s viability and position you for a swift rebound, when the time comes. While leaders host a weekly scheduled virtual session, it is imperative to hold smaller in person meetings as well. Your people are your most valuable asset and they’re vulnerable right now. Staying connected and focusing on their experience is important.