When times get tough, a company’s culture can be the glue that holds everything together.
Corporate culture – that unique blend of shared values and behaviors that define the personality of an organization – can bring people together toward a common purpose. It can be a source of inspiration and motivation for employees. And in a time of crisis, culture can be key to a company’s very survival.
Maintaining culture across a socially distant workforce, however, can be a challenge.
Here are five tips to keep your culture strong through this crisis – and beyond.
- Reiterate your organizational values.
- Communicate openly and honestly.
- Prioritize employee health and wellbeing.
- Make time for informal connections.
- Trust your people.
Shared values and vision shouldn’t change just because working conditions have. Take the time to remind everyone just what your company stands for, whether you’re working in the office or not. Spell out what is expected and tie those expectations back to your core values. Reiterating your values also can provide welcome reassurance to employees that, despite recent upheaval, the company remains true at its core.
It’s the job of leaders to reinforce culture through action. Set a tone of openness by making sure everyone knows exactly what is happening, and provide honest, accurate, up-to-date information on a regular basis. People need to feel heard and supported – especially in times of uncertainty. Listen to colleagues’ fears and concerns, and address them in the most productive way possible. And don’t be afraid to be human by sharing your own personal experiences.
Protecting your culture means protecting your staff. With all the pandemic-induced anxiety swirling around, offering support for mental and physical health has never been more important. Make sure everyone knows what benefits are available – healthcare, sick days, time off, leave options, and so forth – and how to access this support.
Camaraderie and teamwork can suffer when employees are working apart, so take the proverbial water cooler online. Encourage people to connect with each other informally through virtual coffee breaks, lunch with friends, or even team workouts. Develop a buddy system, where pairs of employees regularly check in with each other, for extra support. And don’t forget to bring in the fun. A Zoom happy hour with a game of bingo can be a great moral builder and stress reliever.
With a strong corporate culture in place, trust that your people will pull together and get the job done – even if you can’t see them. And demonstrate your trust by being flexible with demands, as employees try to do their best while juggling work with kids, spouses, pets, and more.
Culture may be driven by the top, but ultimately, it’s a two-way street of shared beliefs and behaviors, built upon a foundation of respect and trust. A strong culture unites everyone for the good of the organization. That’s how you get through a crisis. Don’t let a crisis like COVID-19 sabotage your culture.
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