These are uncertain times. With no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are now grappling with new challenges in sharing and preserving their corporate cultures that encompass vision, values, systems, learning, beliefs, and much more.
The nature of the work place is evolving. This has triggered change in the way corporate culture is managed. WFH is no longer a temporary phenomenon. In advanced economies, 25 to 30% of the workforce is expected to work permanently from home. The rest will work from office two or three days a week.
The age of hybrid work is making work arrangements flexible, inadvertently decreasing opportunities for employees to “live and breathe” the culture.
Having said that, placing employees in a homogeneous cultural experience has become more challenging.
At the heart of the problem lie the inflexible processes designed to nurture organizational culture in an office-centric work environment. As the newer, younger generation joins the workforce, the lack of attention to culture will have an acute emotional impact, thereby impairing their ability to deliver with consistency and commitment.
It is natural for most employees to find change deeply troubling, resulting in poor performance. The only way to counter this is by redefining the way corporate culture is nurtured and managed. Since HR has been front-ending the ongoing disruption from the start of the pandemic, I believe its role will become more pronounced in building a corporate culture that is super agile, stronger, and high-performing. I would like to offer some recommendations to all my peers who are strategizing to navigate organizations through the troubled waters of change.
- Retaining the social fabric at work: To counter the high levels of social isolation, greater attention has to be paid to maintaining a sense of community. This translates to creating opportunities to connect. Therefore, smart organizations are changing the proportion of space available for collaboration and are replacing rigid patterns of work with flexible, virtual models, allowing new-age technology like AI, RPA, ML, and analytics to enable a mix of work and pleasure.
- Making new habits work: With a new environment, the dynamics between individuals, teams, and business must change. Employees may want to stay in their pajamas with their pets nearby, but the ultimate focus must be on innovation and the ability to serve customers better. It translates into fostering new work habits and building the discipline to follow them.
- Navigating safely for the long-term: Hybrid work environments are becoming a reality. This is because some roles and teams need to be together physically. Physical proximity also builds trust and expands our networks. But the right expectations must be set. Everyone is learning the new rules of engagement, and employees must be prepared to learn them, time to time.
- Prioritizing and advocating well-being: The well-being of employees must be considered to facilitate stronger relationships from anywhere. HR leaders can introduce a layer of psychological safety for employees through regular audits, by allowing experimentation and by redefining existing practices. This results in your employees feeling secure, preventing defensive or rash actions. Frequent check-ins and effective communication plans further foster physical and mental well-being.
- Building a culture of trust: This is an important factor in a hybrid work culture where face-to-face interactions with colleagues and managers are limited. The new hybrid work culture must focus on allowing employees to function without fear. This translates into a more engaged employee, resulting in improved products and services to end-customers.
Researchers have firmly established the relationship between corporate culture and business performance. Organizations like Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton and American Express have shown that corporate culture paves the way for employee productivity, competitive advantage, technological adoption, and financial performance. These organizations have turned corporate culture into a strategic asset. So can we. Try out these 5 tips to transform your company culture into a strategic benefit and achieve the new “work” order.
Since HR and technology are now at crossways, I see technology playing a pivotal role in building a high-performing corporate culture to ensure post-pandemic success. In the same spirit, my colleague, Jasjit and I have listed top recommendations for a tech-driven road map to ensure a high-performance corporate culture by ensuring positive employee experience’ in our playbook. Understand how organizations can utilize new-age tech to build positive employee experiences and create a resonating corporate culture remotely.