Since being faced with major challenges in 2020 and 2021, companies are currently in a state of flux more than ever. Numerous lockdowns have led to hybrid work models and remote working for companies, if they hadn’t already embedded this into their corporate culture.
The big difficulty for companies over the past two years has been maintaining a stringent company culture rather than focusing exclusively on business issues.
In our exchanges with various employers, we were able to ascertain that this was not an easy task and that corporate culture had been somewhat neglected in recent months. Understandably, many companies were concerned with business survival for the time being.
Nevertheless, for us, corporate culture plays a central part in the successful management or growth of a company. That's why, in this article, we'll be looking at this very topic: company culture. One thesis is: Now, company culture is more important than ever!
A healthy culture helps to build a strong foundation for corporate success. In an environment full of uncertainties, it is even more important to have a strong company culture that allows you to quickly adapt to new circumstances and to transfer your own culture authentically and effectively to employees. A good corporate culture can even tip the scales between failure and success.
Below you will find some food for thought:
1) One fact: Your culture has changed.
"Back in the days, everything used to be better". At least that's what people keep saying. However, first of all, that's not a fact. And second, you shouldn't shy away from new realities. One new reality is that every company's culture has inevitably changed as a result of the Covid pandemic. Even with the decline in new infections and a flood of vaccines spreading a feeling of "back to normality," the way we work and the environment we work in has fundamentally changed.
The majority of workers feel they have been affected by this shift in the way they work. On a positive note, most consider this change as positive.
Now is the time for companies to capitalize on what has worked, not turn back the clock. Proactive efforts must be made to shape or strengthen a renewed company culture that has adapted to your unique circumstances.
We would like to close this point with an encouraging thesis: Every innovation offers opportunities. For example, in this "new" reality, every company has the opportunity to incorporate breakthrough innovations into their corporate culture that make it attractive to work for the company.
2) The focus is on the individual employee.
Shouldn't the focus have been on the individual employee all along? What has changed?
Perhaps we should be a little more specific here: The Coronavirus pandemic has made everything much more "human". Everybody had their difficulties adjusting to the new situation. Some had greater issues, others less significant.
A fact is that the mental life of the individual has received a much stronger spotlight than before.
Let’s illustrate this a bit: The pandemic has given work colleagues a much deeper insight into each other's lives. Suddenly, we saw colleagues' bedrooms and living rooms. The cat, the dog, or even a family member have flashed through the camera. We have followed how our colleagues have furnished themselves in a makeshift way. All of this has removed the stiff office space as a fixed point, and shifted the spotlight to the private lives of individuals.
Of course, this also brings difficulties and this is exactly where you as a company should begin with:
Your employees have had to lower the curtain a bit, and some of them probably even did so gladly. This is where companies should approach their employees and prove to them that sharing their private lives has had a positive side effect. Corporate culture can now adapt even better to its employees and allow them the freedom and flexibility they need.
We have moved from the much discussed “work-life balance” to a “merger of work and life”. A fusion of work and life has certainly emerged organically with an increase in remote working. However, it is still important that individual employees can take time for themselves. This can be encouraged proactively by the company, and not only creates a more human approach, but also has a positive impact on your company culture. Therefore, encourage your employees and colleagues to take time for themselves. This way, well-being can flourish and an employee’s job continues to be a psychologically safe place.
3) Don't start from scratch.
Don't think that everything needs to be thrown overboard now. Many companies struggle with the fact that their corporate culture currently lacks a clear common thread. However, remember that your culture most certainly was great at some point! This is a starting point to build on, as Kevin Oakes also points out in his exciting book “Culture Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company”. A common ground of all companies that have successfully changed their corporate culture is that they did not start from scratch. They have rather renovated their existing structures. This can be compared to renovating a house: the healthiest companies, Oakes says, retain parts of their culture that make their organization great, but seek to improve its value over time.
In doing so, you hold on to core values that define you as a company and give you a unique selling point. Create a mentality of co-creation and involve your employees at all levels of the organization in your renovation efforts. One of the hardest parts of cultural renewal is convincing skeptics of change.
Given the many disruptive forces companies face, a culture that evolves with the economy is an essential component of organizational effectiveness. Even in highly successful companies, culture is never something to be taken for granted. Sitting back was already a downfall for famous companies in the past.
Therefore: Approach the important topic "company culture" proactively instead of reacting. Adapt your culture to current events. Develop a listening strategy, chart a vision for the future, and create a mentality of co-creation!