Your company's culture—the shared values and beliefs that are reflected through policies, practices, and interactions—can be critical to attracting, motivating, and retaining employees. This can be especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic and when facing other challenges. Here are seven key areas where you can help foster a positive culture at your company.
Effective communication is the foundation of a good employment relationship and can help build trust, loyalty, and performance. During a crisis, like the pandemic, you may want to increase the frequency of communication. Convey clear, up-to-date, and reliable information from trusted sources. Get leaders out in front of employees (via teleconferencing, videos, email, etc.) to highlight successes and give employees an honest assessment of business conditions and challenges and what the company is doing to address them. Make clear the challenges are a shared struggle and you will tackle them together. Communication should also be two-way. Give employees ample opportunities to provide feedback about your company, the work environment, and supervisors, without fear of retaliation.
Ask employees how they're doing and what support they need. Identify company resources that can help, such as technology that can make employees' jobs easier or benefits that can help them balance work and life responsibilities. Additionally, encourage employees to support one another and give them ideas of how they can do so. Ensure that supervisors are also acknowledging employees' work contributions and the difficult situation they're facing.
While employee collaboration is key to business success, the pandemic has made it more difficult because of social distancing requirements and the fact that more employees are working remotely. To help, think of ways you can create formal and informal opportunities for employees to collaborate. For instance, in addition to safely holding formal projects and other staff meetings, encourage employees to schedule regular virtual chat or coffee sessions with co-workers. With no set agenda, these informal sessions can be free flowing and allow employees the space to discuss issues and brainstorm solutions.
During the pandemic, many employees have had fears about contracting COVID-19 at work and bringing it back to their families and communities. At a minimum, make sure you're following applicable rules, guidelines, and best practices for keeping the workplace safe. Additionally, let employees know that their safety is your top priority (and make sure your practices reflect this), the steps you're taking to protect them, and how they can report any concerns. Make sure leadership is setting a good example by enthusiastically embracing safety protocols and enforce safety measures consistently.
The ability to adapt to change quickly has been critical during the pandemic. Think about what your company has already learned, how it has demonstrated agility, and how it can become more agile for the future. Be honest with employees about any lessons learned and how you want to adapt to be prepared for the next challenge.
#6: Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Many employers have found that a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment is not only the right thing to do but it can also result in new and innovative ideas and a more engaged workforce. These efforts can also make an organization more resilient during difficult times. Make sure your workplace complies with applicable nondiscrimination laws and effectively promotes the values you wish to demonstrate to employees, clients, and the community.
#7: Career development
Discussing an employee's career interests and personal strengths can help make them feel valued. These discussions shouldn't be avoided just because times are difficult. Even if your company doesn't have a lot of opportunities for upward mobility, you can still help employees develop skills and knowledge that will serve them and your business in the future. Meet with each employee and discuss their short-term and long-term career goals. Create a development plan accordingly and follow-up regularly to check on their progress.
Think about the company culture you wish to maintain and ensure that you implement policies and practices that reflect it.