The Barrett Values Centre recently released the results of their assessment on how the pandemic has impacted the culture of our organizations. And while we try to preserve and reinvent our customer experience, the employee experience has taken an equal battering.
COVID 19 has impacted our world in so many ways. Each of us has been personally touched in one way or another. Our routines have been disrupted, our priorities turned upside down, the things we value have shifted.
From a business perspective, we’ve gone from strategic thinking to immediate tactics. Is our supply chain still intact? New and changing government regulations and funding programs are forcing us to change the way we do business. Overnight, we asked our employees to work differently.
Meeting our Employees where they are
Every single one of our employees is having a unique pandemic experience. At one extreme there are those who believe the whole thing is a hoax and at the other extreme, there are those who suffer from paranoia.
And while we try to continue “business as unusual” providing work from home technologies, processes, and demands for innovative thinking, employees are also juggling the demands of a disrupted home life. Or maybe we’ve just gone radio silent telling our employees we’ll get back to them when the business restarts based on the easing of government restrictions. Either way, confusion, fear, anger, isolation, and frustration are just a few of the feelings people are going through.
A new list of personal priorities
I don’t know about you, but every day in this new environment I’ve been faced with some sort of learning experience. What’s the best way to get groceries delivered? Is there another place in my house that has connectivity, lighting, privacy, and a decent background for the one million zoom calls I need to do? What am I going to do with those kids today? My job may be changed or even gone in the near term, I need to upskill now!
Is it any surprise that continuous learning has risen to the number one priority in our lives? Also jumping up are adaptability and well-being. Well-being has moved from #26 to #5 in order of importance.
My colleague Beverly Beuermann-King, a health and wellness expert, put together this tongue in cheek view of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where the internet has become the number one need before food and safety now.
What have you been doing to help support your employee’s learning needs? How well do you understand the unique position of each of your employees? Have you shifted your customer promise to reflect your customers’ new reality?
The COVID 19 Company Culture
Three key themes have emerged on how the culture of our organizations has shifted during the past few months. Before, we were focused on company performance with a focus on results and achievement. Now we’re focused on people. How do we keep them safe, productive, and connected? Rob Beyer, Earthbend CEO, told me recently how he’s doubled down on employee communication. He’s checking in with employees like he’s never done in the past, trying to understand their unique situations. Empathy is required in spades.
Previously, we had a sense of control in how we did business. Now we’ve thrown out numerous policies and processes. Survival means innovation and adaptability, and speed is key. What was planned to be done over 2 years has been accomplished in 2 months. Just look at how, all of a sudden, we’ve embraced working remotely.
And finally, hierarchy has collapsed and been replaced with an emphasis on collaboration and information sharing.
The good and the bad
Many may perceive this as a positive shift in our cultures. But it’s not all roses and champagne. In fact, culture entropy, the amount of friction in our workplaces impacting productivity, hasn’t gone down. The sources of friction have just changed. Instead of bureaucracy, control and hierarchy, our employees are experiencing caution, confusion, and job insecurity.
In the rush to adapt, how might your culture have drifted off course? What are some of the best things in your culture that have helped you persevere?
Post-COVID 19 Culture for Success
Many of the values we leaned on during this crisis are seen as critical even when we come out of this crazy time. Adaptability, agility, and innovation have all risen to the top as values that companies see as important to retain. What’s really interesting is that what employees are most looking for is increased direction, communication, and connection. Well-being and work-life balance are also important. We must be careful to balance the needs of the organization with the needs of our people.
Many organizations have been doing pulse surveys as a way to check in on their employees during this pandemic and to monitor for shifts in their culture. As we move through this pandemic and economic downturn and begin to find our feet under us again, it’s a great time to take a breath to recalibrate. How will our company be different going forward? How will our employees be working for the next 12 – 18 months? How do we want our employees and customers to feel about our organization? What parts of our culture will be critical to keep and what areas need some extra attention?
Interested in exploring how COVID 19 has impacted your culture? We can help.
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