Will your company culture survive the pandemic?
We think of company culture as something that is relatively stable but, as many organisations are discovering, culture is dynamic and susceptible to the huge shifts we’ve seen in ways of working. In a recent UK survey, 39% of senior leaders said they believe that their company culture has already been impacted negatively because of remote working. Why is this happening - and what can you do to nurture your company culture?
Company culture, a.k.a. ‘the way we do things round here’, is about the shared values, beliefs and norms of behaviour that people consistently show in the workplace. Your culture matters because it sets the context for everything that happens in the organisation – how decisions are made, how things get done, the way people work together, and how they interact with customers. What’s becoming clear in the pandemic is how a shift in the working environment can unpick these shared codes of behaviour and collective sense of identity.
“People are focusing only on what works for them, not the team or the wider company. It’s all about ‘me’ not ‘us’”
“Although communication within teams is good, it feels like different teams and functions across the business are not acting like we’re in this together”
“We’re bringing in new hires who are getting on with the job, but how do we show them what’s so special about us so that they know they’ve made the right career choice?”
These are just some of the concerns we’ve heard from clients in recent weeks. Whilst leaders are rightly keen to preserve what’s good about their culture, could this be the right time to build something even better? For most companies, the genie is out of the bottle - they know that employees will demand hybrid working patterns that enable them to strike a better balance, rather than choose between work and “life”.
The best leaders are already working in new ways that could help them build a better culture. They:
treat team members more holistically as individuals who are all spinning different plates
know the importance of mental health – and ask how the team are doing, not just what
respect and encourage clear boundaries between work and home
demonstrate trust and encourage autonomy (and recognise that remote micromanaging isn’t possible!)
prioritise people’s need to connect, maintain strong relationships and have fun together
Now is the time for leaders to start to understand how their culture has shifted so that they can be more intentional about how it evolves. Start by actively listening to your people. Not just through surveys, but through objective and unbiased one-to-ones or focus groups where you set out to truly understand what your people’s worlds of work feel like right now. Here are some questions to explore:
What have you learnt from your 2020 experience?
What are the positives about how you are working now?
What don’t you want? What gets in your way?
What have been our strengths during this time?
What are we at risk of damaging or losing altogether?
In our next blog we’ll explore ways you can create new cultural anchors which reinforce the company’s identity and remind people what they are part of. In the meantime, if you need to get an understanding of how your culture has shifted in the pandemic, give us a call. We’re ready to help.