Culture Flux – Reassessing company culture while navigating the new normal

As companies return to the office from months of remote work, or are adjusting to a new normal of ongoing remote work and social distancing, there is no doubt workplace culture is in flux. Some may need healing after layoffs, furloughs or closures, while others are adapting work processes and physical environments to accommodate social distancing mandates. Globally, those employees who are returning to the office will need to adjust after a year of working apart.

Despite vaccinations, concerns about Covid-19 are likely to persist including worries about the new, potentially more virulent and/or deadly strains along with overall uncertainty general health and safety, and it will be up to leadership to proactively communicate with their employees and respectfully address concerns.

Organizations must establish leadership principles that form a solid, post- crisis foundation. Executive leaders have a unique opportunity to shape or re-shape and leverage the company cultures that will provide meaningful and enduring impact for their organizations. Organizational culture is one of the most important differentiators companies possess and, just check out any Glassdoor review, one that has significant impact on whether prospective employees will flock to it and whether current employees will flee from it. Forbes offers five recommendations for effective culture management:

  • Articulate, validate and reinforce your culture. Talk about the importance of your corporate culture and what your company values
  • Develop leaders by providing education and coaching. Ensure they are managing based on objectives while demonstrating empathy to their subordinates.
  • Stay true to your culture, and avoid letting the pandemic erode what you value. If empowerment and participation were priorities, ensure you are still seeking input and involvement from the top- down..
  • Demonstrate culture inside and outside your company. How you treat employees is important as is how you interact and contribute to your community. These send a strong signal about your culture.
  • Recognize employees who act in the way you desire and for performance aligned with your preferred culture, and hold people accountable for behaviours & performance that are not.

Corporate culture has always been an important aspect of business, but the need to intentionally manage culture is especially critical now. “There is an intersection between culture and business strategy that must come from the top.” says Dave Pye, Chairman of Portman Partners. ‘One cannot exist without the other and it is those guiding principles that will drive employee buy-in from the bottom up.”

It has never been more important to focus on key talent, develop leaders, and to hold people accountable for upholding company value. If companies view post-pandemic times as an opportunity to strengthen culture, and focus on improving upon what works versus being overwhelmed then it becomes a win for everyone. If you would like to speak to us about how your company culture can benefit from innovative leadership strategies contact our advisors at Portman Partners to arrange for a discovery call.