EngagementCulture4 ways leaders can keep culture moving through a crisis

4 ways leaders can keep culture moving through a crisis

Culture keeps a business united in its mission, but a major crisis like the coronavirus pandemic makes culture hard to maintain. How can people leaders keep their cultures intact during these difficult times?

In many ways, a company’s culture makes up the fabric of its DNA and identity. It embodies the purpose, ethos and vision of the organisation, informs the decisions it makes and resides at the very center of its being.

In these terms, the importance of culture is undeniable, and this reflects in numerous instances of research and study. One study found that more than 50% of executives agree that culture drives workplace productivity.

However, in order to serve its purpose, a company’s culture must consistently evolve and grow. This is a constant challenge, and one that is amplified by the corporate inertia caused by COVID-19’s destructive influence.

So, in these turbulent times, leaders must still find a way to keep their culture moving. Here are 4 ways this can be achieved:

Adapt employee experience

Employee experience is arguably the most vital ingredient of any workplace dynamic. It comprises, as the name indicates, the experience of the employee both on a day-to-day basis and over the course of their journey with the organisation.

Therefore, its potential to influence the success of a company culture is undeniable. A study conducted by Deloitte, for instance, found that 80% of executives rated the employee experience as ‘very important’.

However, as the workplace physically changes with the ensuing disruption, so too does the nature of the employee experience.

Therefore, to safeguard culture, organisations must evolve and adapt their employee experience in accordance with the changing times.

In the circumstances, this is likely to involve the company’s approach to remote working, ensuring that the experience of doing so is as comfortable, seamless and stress-free as possible.

As is often the case with employee experience, these improvements are bound to have an impact on happiness and ultimately productivity.

Re-evaluate L&D

Learning and Development is another key area that has the potential to make a statement about the ethos and vision of a company.

What’s more, many studies show that the opportunity to learn and grow as a professional is of paramount importance to current and prospective employees, particularly among younger generations.

One report earlier this year found that 27% of employees cited ‘lack of career progress’ as something that would provoke them to seek new employment.

But with the new normal and the concept of ‘business as usual’ currently changing at a greater pace than ever before, how can leaders continue to ensure that this progress and development is being offered?

Many organisations are turning to technology and virtual platforms to help them navigate through this space, employing various digital learning resources such as Hive Learning.

Leaders are also focusing efforts on replicating the authenticity of traditional workplace development, creating an ‘in-person’ feel through, for instance, 1-2-1 video conference progress meetings.

Adapt the candidate experience

Due to the challenges of the current financial climate, many organisations have been forced to suspend plans for talent acquisition. Many more have been forced reduce the size of the workforce.

However, the hunt for new talent still presses on for some employers, particularly those who specifically require more staff as a result of the disruption, such as retailers.

But with the onset of social distancing, this process is shifting drastically. Organisations must find a method of quickly, efficiently and effectively acquiring talent through virtual means.

But this comes with a major caveat. Employers must achieve this whilst maintaining an enjoyable, engaging and seamless candidate experience and onboarding process.

This is vital in terms of keeping the candidate engaged and communicating positive brand values from the outset.

One study even found that 22% of new hires will seek new employment within their first 45 days at a company, so the importance of effective onboarding is clear.

This is a vital step for organisations to take in terms of developing and safeguarding their culture.


Basic logic dictates that a lack of co-location will compromise a large proportion of traditional communication methods.

For this reason, companies are having to apply their best efforts to replicating this aspect of the day-to-day working experience.

As far as culture is concerned, this is no less than vital. Communication is considered key in creating and maintaining company culture, with one study showing that 70% of small to mid-size businesses cite ineffective communication as their primary problem.

For many organisations, one way to deal with this is to ‘over-communicate’ in order to compensate for the lack of authenticity in audio or video calling.

This might take the form of more frequent catchups between leaders and their teams, more emphasis placed on social ‘meet-ups’ and ‘water cooler’ conversations, or even just an increase in direct messages or emails to check-in with employees.

The idea is to instill a sense of safety among the workforce by offering care, compassion and empathy during what is an increasingly difficult period.

Among other things, this will allow organisations to adapt to the changing circumstances and prevent a drop-off in communication from damaging company culture.

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