The coronavirus lockdowns have changed the face of the workplace beyond all recognition. Whole teams have been working remotely – in many cases for more than a year now. New recruits are joining a group of colleagues they’ve never even met!
With the majority of the UK’s largest employers now saying they don’t plan to bring staff back to the office full-time once restrictions ease, what does it mean for company culture? How can you ensure your unique ethos survives – and thrives – in the new era of hybrid working?
Business leaders invest years in creating effective company cultures that are strategically relevant and valued by employees. This helps attract and retain great people – and can also boost company performance. But the lockdowns have changed everything. Or have they?
Will culture take a hit?
Not seeing colleagues in person makes it harder to solidify shared beliefs. Will employees be less able to use your organisation’s culture as a roadmap for making good decisions when times are tough? How can you continue to build and leverage your culture when hybrid teams are split between home and office?
Adaptation is key
Research suggests that companies with a culture that can adapt quickly in dynamic environments earn around 15% more in annual revenue, compared with less adaptable firms in the same industry. So hire and promote people who are resilient and adaptable. And engage and communicate effectively with all your employees to encourage them to be flexible. A good place to start is by sharing examples of how your organisation has adhered to its cultural values through new practices during the pandemic.
Tips for effective communication
Focus on quality of communication rather than quantity
Less frequent, but high quality, communication pieces will be far more effective than overwhelming people with too-frequent repetition. In the same way you block out adverts you don’t want to see, or block them on social media, people will do this to poor quality communication internally.
Keep words simple and to the point
Whilst you have internal jargon that everyone gets to understand, and use, over time, use it sparingly in your internal comms.
Consider tone of voice and ensure the timing is right
The level of informality and joviality needs to be appropriate to the message and to the audience. With many different audiences within your organisation, you may need to do multiple versions of the same message to talk to the different audiences.
Use multiple channels to convey and reinforce your message
In the same way that your external marketing teams will us omni-channel marketing to maximise engagement and reinforce the message, this can be done internally too.
Check to ensure your message has been understood and been effective
Never make assumptions. Just because you know what the message is meant to convey, it doesn’t mean everyone will understand. If you are able to test the message before it is rolled out across the business, we recommend you do. If not, checking shortly afterwards will allow you to adjust things going forward to get the right message across.
Ensure communication is a two-way street
As well as effective communication, feedback from employees is also crucial. Use focus groups or opinion polls to find out what people think about your company culture and any changes to it arising from the pandemic. And don’t just focus on the positives – embrace any negative responses as you all adapt to the new environment. Those who tell you what is wrong do so because they want you to fix it. If they didn’t, they would simply tell everyone else!
Internal comms platforms
Also think about the best internal comms platforms for your particular organisation. Employee apps, for example, can be used for both corporate communications and for more relaxed chatter to boost employee well-being. Here are some of the options:
- Employee apps
- Internal newsletters
- Video library
- Instant messaging
- Leadership blogs
Tips for improving organisational culture
Now that the lines of communication – and employee feedback – are well and truly open, here are some tips for improving your company culture:
- Create and communicate meaningful values
- Ensure employees know how they make a difference for the company
- Educate employees on the company purpose
- Keep employees informed on the company’s progress towards its goals
- Involve employees in developing plans to improve the company
- Be honest and open when communicating with employees
Organisational culture is created by a complex mix of factors and influences. But it’s all held together by effective internal communications. The impact of the pandemic and the lockdowns could be detrimental to the business, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you would like further advice on your internal comms, please get in touch. Call 01252 717 707 or email firstname.lastname@example.org