As the Pandemic Continues, We Must Keep Our Core Values Front and Center
The Japanese business philosophy of kaizen promotes the continuous growth of all employees no matter where they are in the org chart. Consciously or not, many company leaders subscribe to this concept on some level when it comes to company culture.
When you are intentional about creating strong growth and an adaptable culture, you position your company to attract top talent from all over the world. When you invest in helping your employees grow both personally and professionally, the entire organization reaps the benefits. From increased retention and morale to developing a clear competitive edge, the advantages of a strong company culture are endless.
Maintaining Your Culture in a Crisis
In times of crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to have processes in place that enable your business to pivot quickly and easily. It is also important to maintain a sense of camaraderie and tradition, even when your workers are at home instead of side by side in the office. In fact, the continuation of culture is just as important as shifting your business strategy. If culture suffers in a crisis, productivity, morale, and possibly even revenue will fall.
One way to keep culture intact during a shift to remote work is by providing employees with the same tools that were at their disposal in the office and maintaining the same daily routines. This can help your staff members feel connected to the company culture and one another in a remote setting.
One of the disadvantages of not having all of your workers under one roof is the lack of human interaction, which is a key factor in sustaining a strong company culture. When in-person interaction is impossible, continuous communication becomes vital to ensure that employees feel supported and collaboration can continue. It is important for managers to check in frequently with employees — not just to make sure the work is still being done at a high standard, but also to make sure employees understand that they and their families are the company’s top priority. When you take care of your employees, they are able to successfully take care of others, like your customers and clients.
Keep Core Values Front and Center
One-of-a-kind amenities and on-site offerings are great ways to add positivity to a business’s culture and get employees excited about where they work. Perks and benefits are your way of rewarding employees for their passion, dedication, and hard work. With teams now distributed, however, delivering great perks and benefits can be incredibly difficult.
But that’s not a hurdle you can’t overcome. While they are nice incentives for employees, perks make up only a fraction of a company’s culture. They cannot substitute for the values that serve as the building blocks of your company. To keep your culture strong in a crisis, it is important to communicate the messages that matter most to the core of your business and embody the positive workplace you wish to create.
A strong company culture cannot thrive without the principles that are fundamental to the foundation of your business — principles like trust, respect, accountability, inclusivity, etc. Culture does not depend on perks — it depends on values, and those values must be shared and agreed upon by every employee in your business from CEO to intern. Company leaders who understand this are more likely to encourage (and in turn, build) healthy cultures.
During a crisis, it’s easy to find ourselves stuck in survival mode and distracted from cultural concerns. For that reason, it’s especially important to emphasize your core mission and core values during difficult times. If you keep these things in view of your employees, your culture is more likely to remain strong. When you receive positive comments from customers or clients, share them with your team. Such feedback reinforces the fabric that weaves your culture and all of your people together.
As the exceptionally difficult year of 2020 winds down and we set our sights on planning for 2021, leaders should take some time to inventory what mattered most to their people during this time of crisis. Perhaps in the absence of the perks and office interactions that once made up the fabric of your company, a greater calling was uncovered — a culture rooted in connection, trust, empathy, and respect.
COVID-19 highlighted a need for more work/life balance and more support from employers. Your company can stand out from the competition by simply making a commitment to being more empathetic to employees and more responsive to employee needs going forward.
Jeff Ostermann is chief people office at Sweetwater.