The pandemic has had such a huge impact on the way businesses operate. In many ways it has created a distance between employees. Many employees have been working from home and even when this wasn’t possible social distancing and masks have been in force to protect the spread of Covid-19. These precautions were, and still are incredibly important to save lives and protect the vulnerable. Now the UK have lifted restrictions we have some great tips for businesses looking to adapt and rebuild their company culture for the better.
Evaluate company culture
Before looking at how to improve company culture a business needs to assess what their culture was before the pandemic and what position it is at now. To do this an organisation can review several aspects of working life:
- Onboarding – how are employees introduced to the company
- Training opportunities
- Openness between management and employees
- Asking questions to employees about their views of the company and how they would describe the culture of the organisation
- Listening to the interactions and conversations between employees
This combination of questions and research can easily identify a company’s current culture, which can then be written up into a set of values, actions, and behaviours. Although a company’s culture may have changed slightly over the pandemic employees will still remember and quickly slip back into how thing used to be before Covid-19. This step is important to assess the culture now and the culture before the pandemic.
Many employees have been working from home during the pandemic, they have adapted and adjusted to remote working which often offers much more flexibility and a different form of work life balance. Many companies are planning to continue with a dynamic working practice as they have seen benefits financially and through the resulting work of their employees. Dynamic working has altered business cultures to be more trusting and understanding, the key to this type of working practice is to focus on the output and performance of employees as opposed to their location or how long employees spend working.
Some businesses may be unsure if they wish to continue to offer working from home or dynamic working as an option. We suggest consulting with employees and reviewing their opinions, outputs and the financials related to allowing employees to work from home. If as a business, you are determined to return to a full office based working week with little or no flexibility then you may encounter employees that consider leaving. A dynamic working environment is now becoming the new norm to help improve financials, reduce a business’s carbon footprint, and allow employees the trust and freedom to complete their work outside of the office.
When developing a positive company culture that encourages communication and openness a business must lead by example. Communicating business objectives, values and expectations of employee behaviour is a great way to help directly influence the company’s culture.
Business leaders must be shown to display these wanted behaviours and values every day. One way to do this is through sharing updates with employees on business strategy, new clients, and profitability. By openly communicating and listening to employees without repercussions or judgement a company can increase the openness of their company culture. Openness and communication leads to happier team members as issues are resolved quickly before escalating. It can also help a business innovate when employees feel they can make suggestions and recommendations for business improvements. An anonymous suggestion box or forum is a great way encourage employees to ask questions and make suggestions they might not feel comfortable doing directly to managers or other employees.
Slow and steady
Company culture is built, worked on, and adapts over several years. It can take a long time to build up trust and respect from employees, especially if there has been a previous historic negative company culture. Company culture can’t be rushed and must be given time to progress and shift to a more positive outlook. Rushing changes can have the opposite effect and employees may resent the fact that they are being rushed to change their behaviour or attitude where it doesn’t fit with the overall business feel.
Measuring company culture is essential to determine if the changes made are having the right impact and effect. It’s not always easy to measure, sending out questions to employees and customers several times a year will help a business quantify its progress. This way businesses can adapt their strategy if they find that their efforts to create a positive working environment are not turning into results or are having a negative impact on the company culture.