A Forbes Report Prepared by Justin Hastings, Chief Human Resources Officer at Experian North America. To read the full article on Forbes.com, click here.
Through the uncertainty, we have seen one constant: how critical the foundation of strong company culture is to sustain productivity and innovation.
Remote working has been the only option for many companies during the pandemic. However, without physical, human connections, there is a risk of eroding a company’s culture. Without the ability to be together, how will your employees continue making those informal relationships that build communities?
Developing, cultivating, and maintaining your company’s culture in these times can help propel your business forward even with all the uncertainty surrounding us. Establishing the culture at all levels — from the tip of the pyramid to the base — is important, as is communicating consistent messages and focusing on your values. At my company, we believe that empowering your employees to continue building the culture themselves enables them to develop relationships and trust.
Based on what we have learned during these past few months, I want to share six ways you can foster a strong company culture even with a distributed workforce:
#1 SHOW THE AUTHENTICITY OF YOUR BRAND
In times of crisis or uncertainty, staying true to your values and what you stand for can feel harder than in good times. The test of any strong culture is the ability to remain committed to your purpose and be authentic when circumstances are difficult. It also serves as the foundation for employees to return to and reminds them why they do what they do.
#2 KEEP UP THE PACE OF INNOVATION
In some cases, facing the pandemic has forced companies, including ours, to pivot quickly. Successful businesses will continue to adapt to changes in the market — and the world — and quickly innovate to address the changes their clients and customers are also experiencing.
#3 MAINTAIN AGILITY
Against the backdrop of significant uncertainty, the companies that are thriving, and will thrive, are those that are able to show agility in their decision-making and innovation. Quickly adapting to changing conditions also means empowering your employees to course adjust.
#4 LEAD WITH TRANSPARENCY
It’s important for leaders to regularly share, on a human level, transparent communications that demonstrate empathy and support for their teams. By addressing issues like child care, mental health, enduring personal losses of loved ones and more, companies show that from the C-suite to a cubicle neighbor, we are all here for each other.
#5 BE INNOVATIVE WITH ONBOARDING
When it comes to onboarding, partner with your IT department to make sure new hires have the technology and tools they need to start their new jobs productively. Consider creating a buddy system, matching new hires with a member of their new team to show them the ropes and answer questions. Make new hire celebrations virtual so they can still get to know about the other aspects of your organization such as clubs, employee resource groups, volunteer opportunities and more.
#6 CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON RECRUITMENT
Recruiting efforts do not have to diminish without in-person interviews. Leverage technology and creativity to engage with top candidates remotely. Create interview guidelines not just for your team, but for hiring managers as well. Use your social media channels to enhance your branding to share the authentic stories of your work.
Company culture isn’t dependent on working in offices; it is dependent on the type of environment that has been created and leadership communicating and taking an active role in leading through collaboration.
A strong level of engagement is key with potential and new employees, as well as with existing ones. Continue to give your team the space to grow and develop. Show empathy and unity with all the pressures we’re facing right now around home schooling, caregiving and other responsibilities alongside full-time work. A nimble HR team is able to pivot to serve current and potential employees.
Company culture isn’t dependent on working in offices; it is dependent on the type of environment that has been created and leadership communicating and taking an active role in leading through collaboration. The rewards during these challenging times aren’t just strong ties to each other, but a strong sense of purpose that is further established through shared successes, even during a global pandemic.