The year 2020 has forced change on nearly everything we know, but perhaps the most common change we’ve all experienced this year had something to do with our work routine and culture. As the world recovers and adapts to a new normal, companies must revisit their policies, from embracing remote work to refocusing on core values.
Should You Change Your Corporate Culture?
Corporate culture is best described by how employees interact and behave beyond work-related affairs. Corporate culture develops over time and is influenced by multiple factors. This includes the type of people you hire, the rules you enforce, and even the kind of business you have.
So why is corporate culture important? Although this concept is not directly connected to business transactions, corporate culture does have some financial and brand impacts for the company.
In order to be successful, the culture within a company must reflect its desired results. A study from 2013 concludes that a healthy culture in the workplace enhances coordination and collaboration among employees. This leads to improved efficiency when it comes to sharing information and brainstorming ideas. Researchers have illustrated that a strong corporate culture augments financial performance in the long run. It’s not hard to believe that employees that enjoy working with each other naturally perform better, which in turn leads to better financial results for the company.
Aside from financial impacts, corporate culture also reflects on the brand of the company. A common example of this is Google (and parent company Alphabet Inc). The tech giant has promoted a vibrant culture within the company, demonstrated by its colorful offices and gaming rooms. Aside from the workplace, employees are also encouraged to work when and how they like. Through these workspaces and values, Google has cultivated a fun and relaxed workplace that employees enjoy working in. Although not all businesses will be compatible with a similar corporate culture (i.e. Banks, Hospitals, Law Firms), it is important to keep in mind how the public views your brand through your employees and offices.
Rethinking Corporate Culture
Considering the changes occurring in the way we work, this is a great time for leaders within the company to rethink their corporate culture. We’ll go over several concepts to keep in mind when deciding to promote a certain culture in your business.
1. Transcendent Values
As businesses grow and teams expand, you’ll soon find generational differences amongst your employees. Certain values might not be shared between the younger and older members of the workforce. Even then, researchers have noted that different subcultures would emerge within members of the same age group. These subcultures may have different goals and beliefs that may affect performance when they are tasked to collaborate.
It is paramount to the success of your company to promote values that transcend generations and culture. An example of this is when employees are willing to learn from one another. By promoting a collaborative culture, teamwork between employees will strengthen.
These values have been acknowledged by researchers as important aspects in the ecosystem of a business. They indirectly affect business results as employees strive to exemplify them on a day to day basis.
Good examples of values to promote would include collaborating with peers, learning from failures, and always innovating or challenging the norm.
2. Alignment Between Leadership and Employees
The goals of those in management may differ from the goals of each employee. It is important to align these goals for each member of the company. Leaders may leverage the promoted culture to optimize the efficiency and profitability of the business.
Leaders must have a clear goal for the business. By setting an end goal for the company, employees are given an idea of what is expected of them as well as what they can expect from the company. For long term success, companies must be team-oriented to optimize performance and promote a competitive disposition against rival brands.
3. Measure Impact and Feedback Tools
As you begin to develop and cultivate a culture within the company, it would be a good idea to provide a channel for communication between leaders and employees. Different businesses attract different kinds of people. What works for one group may not work for another.
By performing tests and gathering data, management will have an easier time figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Though the general rule is to promote a healthy and efficient workplace, the same rules and values may not work for all businesses.
Perhaps the easiest and most impactful way to figure this out is to listen to your employees. Your goal as a leader is to maximize results. To do that, leaders must ensure that those working towards that goal are happy and highly motivated. Leaders can help reduce problems experienced by employees by providing a space that works for them. This not only refers to the tools found in the space but the different implemented processes as well (e.g. promotions, conflict resolution)
How People Work During Change
As more companies transition to the remote worklife, we are experiencing changes in the way we work. Although there are advantages to this arrangement, there are numerous issues that will need to be addressed as well.
Working from home naturally translates to more flexible work hours. Most people will suddenly gain a couple more hours of free time in the day. These hours used to be reserved for getting dressed and commuting to and from work. Staying at home provides a more flexible work schedule as employees no longer need to dedicate an hour or two in transit.
As businesses head into online workspaces, fostering an online community for your employees may be a challenge. Human moments at work like having a quick chat while grabbing coffee are replaced with message prompts and notifications. Though this may seem negative, keep in mind that we are integrating technology into our lives faster than ever. Newer hires are more tech-savvy and will be used to chatting online instead of small talk in the hallway.
Where People Work During Change
As technology aims to help adapt to the changes happening, it’s no surprise that tech companies are the first to embrace working remotely. In July, Google announced that roughly 200,000 of its employees will be working from home until the next year. Facebook is transitioning half of its workforce to work remotely in the next 10 years.
The goal of these changes is to ensure that the workforce is in safe work environments. It is important for companies to realize that the health and safety of their employees are critical to surviving the challenges ahead.
Hiring During Change
A possible first step in ensuring a successful business in this time of change is updating the hiring process. With working from home being an option, new skills and prerequisites must be taken into account.
Normally, hiring managers would ask an employee where they live and how long would their commute be. Now, those in charge of screening new hires must consider remote work skills. Employees working remotely should be self-motivated to ensure timely results. Most people tend to be motivated by being in the office and around coworkers. As employees would now spend their workday away from coworkers, being self-motivated is important. Critical thinking is also a valuable skill to have. This allows an individual to work independently and find solutions themselves. Other skills to keep in mind are computer literacy, communication skills, and time management.
To avoid headaches down the line make sure to provide clear job offers to potential hires. People looking for work may now be on the lookout for certain benefits that would not have made sense in a traditional office setting. Employees may now expect more flexible schedules. It is also critical to clarify how long the employment contract will be. Due to the massive layoffs that happened in the middle of the year, it is understandable that employees are looking for full-time work, rather than a 6-month contract. Other things to clarify and set expectations are salary increases and promotions.
The onboarding process also needs to be updated. Companies must alter their onboarding process to fit the online landscape. Instead of face to face orientations, onboarding may now occur over a Zoom or a phone call. Make sure the general essence of your onboarding process is not lost as you transition to online communication.
Keep in mind that everyone is still in the middle of adapting to our new normal. For companies that have been used to the traditional work setting, this is the perfect time to test out new policies that would help boost productivity. The traditional corporate culture is changing rapidly and from all angles. Expect new challenges and corporate norms to develop in the online workspace, fit for the tech-enabled workforce.