Most organisations have managed to ease back into being in the office physically, with minimal to no difficulties since the onset of the Pandemic, while some are battling and facing resistance from employees who have become accustomed to remote working or even the hybrid work arrangements and all of the changes to organisational culture that came with these working arrangements.
In order to survive, organisations needed to adjust workplace processes and even the organisational culture. No longer can we continue stating “this is how we do things around here, this is how we have always done things!” Now, the question that stands is: do you revert to the old organisational culture and what you were doing before, or do you move forward with the new hybrid workplace, that allows for more remote work opportunities and the rapid move onto digital spaces? Whatever the choice, it has to be viable for the organisation, employees and the clients.
With all the changes that have occurred in the past year and a half, whether organisations revert back to the “old way of doing things” or adapt to new working arrangements, it is inevitable that the organisational culture will need to either be re-set or re-built in order to advance the organisational goals and strategies and to enable the organisation to succeed.
Organisational culture is defined as “the collection of values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all team members.” It can be described as the collection of traits that make your organisation what it is. A great culture exemplifies positive traits that lead to improved performance, while a dysfunctional company culture brings out qualities that can hinder even the most successful organisations.
Organisational culture is also defined by the collective norms of behaviour exhibited by the individuals within an organisation.
Culture is created through consistent and authentic behaviours.
Organisational culture affects all aspects of your business, from punctuality and tone to contract terms and employee benefits. When workplace culture aligns with your employees, they’re more likely to feel comfortable, supported and valued. Organisations that prioritize good culture can also weather difficult times and changes in the business environment and come out stronger. This became evident with the COVID-19 Pandemic and its resultant effects.
Organisations and employees had no option but to adapt to the rapid changes brought on by the pandemic, however, as the world at large and life in general returns to normal, organisations have the opportunity to create great organisational cultures, which will steer them into high performance organisations geared for the future.
This is an exciting opportunity for organisations to:
Rebuilding or refreshing organisational culture can be difficult, yet also exciting. In addition, getting employees on board with change can also be tough. If it is not done correctly, it can even fail as change is not always easy especially when it is forced onto us. However, it is important to assure employees that the change, although not easy, is not to their detriment, but rather that sometimes one needs to shed old skin, in order for progress to happen. The below may assist in ensuring that employees are comfortable and that they embrace the culture:
Ensure that you believe in the culture you are building or maintaining
Employees need to feel secure and trust that employers believe everything that they preach. New circumstances always lead to new needs. Implementing change, as a result, can be met with hesitation, if you do not believe in the new culture, you will not be able to counter the hesitation nor be able to create benefits for all. Employers need to be confident and accountable, which will in turn foster trust.
Ensure value alignment
Strong organisational values which are strategically aligned, have a greater chance of adapting quickly to new and dynamic environments. As important as the alignment is, it should never be at the risk of the core organisational culture.
When we align employees with the organisation’s values, it is less likely that these would experience unpleasant consequences due to sudden changes.
Foster a culture of adaptability
Having the ability to change and innovate, means that the organisation is always ready in the face of change, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The way organisations deal with and adapt to ever-changing situations, is an important factor for continuous growth and productivity.
Be open to identifying the new habits and norms that have emerged in the last year and a half, but also be willing to let go of those that no longer serve the organisation.
Communication, transparency, accountability and integrity
Accountability, transparency and communication are an integral part in the formation of trust in an organisation. Communicate the change that will or is happening. When there is no transparency, the organisational culture that you are trying to build or maintain, may fall apart.
Integrity needs to be the cornerstone of any organisational structure in order to ensure its success. As difficult as change is to navigate, doing so badly and without integrity will inevitably lead to the downfall of all the hard work and effort that has been put in. Integrity may become challenging and will definitely become extremely vital in the face of challenges and crises, as all actions and behaviour at that point will inevitably set the foundation of what comes next. One cannot re-build on a shaky and imbalanced foundation.
We have taken away some vital lessons from the pandemic and one of those is how we are able to function in forced, unexpected change, which required some resilience and flexibility. It is important to continue and use the lessons, to propel the organisation in the right direction.
“Organisations have a choice about their culture: They can allow it to be defined by unspoken actions or they can proactively shape their culture in order to succeed”.