Why you should be expressing your company’s core values, personality and culture – now more than ever before.
Expressing company Values
Only 41% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they know what their company stands for, and only 27% strongly agree that they believe in their organization's values.
2020 has been a turbulent year already for many organisations, and recent events have demonstrated just how important an organisation’s purpose, culture, and values are, especially when making critical decisions during difficult times. Start with your organisation's mission and purpose to establish a clear set of company values. As a leader during a crisis, your employees look to you for trust, compassion, stability, and hope.
Why is it important to express company values now? Employees will seek reassurance regarding their future, development, and safety. We believe that constant interaction and engagement with employees is pivotal, with clear concise information on health & safety protocols and how as a company you are looking to return to the office. Ensuring that common goals and expected outcomes are shared throughout the company will help staff feel included and valued – and will ultimately support productivity.
Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health & Protection says:
“Where the present situation remains tumultuous for many businesses, communicating regularly with employees can help to create culture”.
Katie Burke of Hubspot summarises company culture as:
"the promise you make to your … employees about the environment they can expect to work in and the values upon which your business operates."
Indeed carried out a survey where they found, 47% of active job seekers cite company culture as their driving reason for looking for work and 46% cite company culture as very important when choosing to apply for a company.
Diagram courtesy of Bain & Co
So how do you create a strong and meaningful culture at the workplace during COVID?
During the pandemic UK hotel chain Best Western Hotels made 15,000 rooms available for medical personnel and at-risk patients, freeing up more space for IC units and hospital beds. This was guided by the company’s central culture values: excellent service and being a good member of the community.
According to Bain & Company, ‘Companies that exhibit a winning culture, that have a strong internal compass and inspire their employees, are, we have found, 3.7 times more likely to be business performance leaders.’ It is important to remember that company culture and values reflect how you deal and interact with customers.
This is the best time to reach out to existing clients or potential customers and a great time to share your experiences and create common ground as everyone moves through this difficult time together. Perhaps you can learn from what others are doing as this can create a better relationship with customers and clients but also shows your compassion and how you value your relationship with them, despite what’s going on.
Create A virtual office culture
Building and sustaining bonds is achieved by increasing teamwork, team bonding, and regular correspondence with employees. This will help build trust and encourage innovation while facilitating a positive outlook which will transmit through the organisation. Host virtual team meeting events and schedule regular calls and involve all employees as much as you can.
Illustration Courtesy of Timeshare CMO
Gitlab, one of the largest all-remote workforces in the world, encourages remote teams to take virtual coffee breaks. They also encourage their employees to spend a few hours each week taking these calls to create ‘a more comfortable, well-rounded environment.’
Clevertech, a software company, encourages colleagues to interact virtually with more light-hearted and fun ‘virtual meet-ups’ during working hours to promote team bonding and to recreate ‘that office environment.’
Wellbeing must be a priority
In our recent blogs, we have spoken a lot about wellbeing but with current studies indicating increasing cases of mental ill-health amongst people working from home (and fears that many are feeling isolated and removed from their company and culture) it’s never been more important to prioritise employee health and wellbeing. Consider a quick zoom call to someone in your company to make sure they are okay and able to work efficiently.
At Interion, we have talked a lot about the infrastructures that need to be put in place to return to the office. However, it's just as important to accommodate and provide sufficient tools, IT support, and comfort for those who either can’t return to the office, or who are reluctant to return.
Returning, reworking & retaining
We have mentioned the importance of maintaining company culture remotely but what about when we return to the office? How can companies reignite the flame which was shut off back in March, especially with the new safety measure in place? We believe you need to start with a soft opening, encourage employees to head back to the office on a rota-basis, and limit the capacity to around 30%.
Prioritise employees who have struggled to work from home and those who need to work from the office due to their roles. Ensure your office is COVID-safe and is in line with government guidelines (see previous blog ‘everything you need to return to the office.’) but also enables the business to operate and express the company’s culture. Remember, people want to return to the office to interact with their colleagues, to be inspired again, and to have a sense of normality.
It is not so much a rebuilding process for many companies more than working out a way to express the values and culture through difficult times. Develop and improve on what you had in place before COVID and work around the measures that need to put in place to ensure company culture can be expressed.
It may not be an employer’s market right now, but companies should not let that compromise their core values, or underestimate the importance of retaining their workforce. There will come a time when this will all be over and employees will look back and remember the actions of their employers and how they handled the situation.
‘Finding that Balance’
In recent UK surveys, around 65% of employees felt anxious about returning to the office because they were worried about overcrowded offices, transport, and cleanliness. However, during a recent poll undertaken by Quartz at work, 52% of employees felt more stressed working from home, the biggest reason (25% of responses) was the feeling of social isolation.
We believe that companies will and should look to incorporate a more flexible approach to how employees work. However, having a central hub where employees can collaborate and socialise with colleagues will benefit individuals’ wellbeing and maintain the core culture which is so unique to each organisation.
The importance of social interaction and social support has never been more important and although technology has aided this throughout the pandemic, how long can it last? The need for social interaction with colleagues is growing; we believe that the desire to return to the office will soon outweigh the convenience of working from home.
What have other companies been doing?
Google was quick to respond to the pandemic by offering its employees a $1000 work from home allowance to cover equipment costs. Many companies such as Target and Workday have expanded their childcare benefits and offering support and sick leave for anyone suffering from mental health. Other companies have looked at ways to cut costs to save jobs and keep their workforce together.
Companies – large and small - will be affected in different ways. Priorities now should include the welfare of employees, by creating a sustainable and enjoyable working environment for them both virtually and when returning to the office.
Interion can help
We can help with planning and organising your flexible office, moving and storing furniture – in fact, any help you need returning to the office. For any guidance you may require, please contact us.