Written by Donna Bonfield | 17th August 2021

A good company culture in some ways is the foundation of a successful business – it can lead to better recruitment decisions, improved employee engagement, productivity and overall performance.

But if you’ve experienced changes in your team as a result of  home working, furlough, redundancy or your business had to close down for the lockdown period, it is likely your culture will now look and feel a lot different than it used to.

If your culture has changed – for worse or for better – you need to be able to determine whether that is the type of culture you want and is right for your business before you can build and maintain it. Our blog post on defining company culture can help.

When it comes down to it, culture is a shared set of behaviours and mind sets that influence how people work. Each company won’t have the same culture, nor will it be a specific checklist – it will be what works for you.

Here are some considerations on how to create and maintain a positive culture:

Look at the good

Most companies put a great effort into helping their employees adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. In fact, according to Forbes, 37% of 2,100 employees globally felt their company culture had improved, showing that hybrid and remote teams can still forge strong relationships and a healthy culture.

For some businesses, it might be that working remotely for such a long period improved the company culture because it encouraged people to be more productive or influenced managers to facilitate more conversations with staff than they would have done pre pandemic.

It’s therefore a good idea to reflect and look to identify what changes made your culture good and how you can integrate it with new ways of working. Has anything changed for the better? For instance, your culture may have become more flexible as you have allowed employees to work in a way that suits them, improving their work life balance and productivity By looking at what works well you can then be creative to make it work in the new environment.

Recruitment

It’s also worth considering not only what has changed within your business but outside of it too. Does your culture need to change to attract and retain staff whose mindsets have changed? Potential candidates and even your existing team will likely have a number of new expectations as a result of the pandemic, such as being able to work from home, choosing their hours, more training and more support and empathy from managers. There is an expectation for organisations to take into account how employees want to work in the future.

Building a great culture starts with clarity about what your organisation stands for, and nowadays people will be more inclined to want to work for you if they feel they are a cultural fit. So if you’re looking to recruit but concerned about your company culture, ask yourself these questions: What sets the companies apart? How do you treat people?

If you want to attract the ideal talent, you need to make it clear to candidates about what makes you unique, this will attract candidates that are specifically drawn to who you are.

Over communicate

For many, company culture is based on communication. Two-way communication between team members and employers is a great first step in creating a positive and beneficial company culture.

But when talking about how to create or rebuild company culture, it always has to start at the top. You need to understand your values and how leaders will demonstrate these with behaviours – culture isn’t just about having policies written on paper.

Be really clear about communicating what behaviours people will demonstrate if they are living your culture and values. Then lead from the top to encourage everyone to behave in those ways – you could embed this in your performance management process and review behaviour in your 1-1 sessions.

If like many, you are exploring hybrid working, don’t forget that can still lead to employees feeling disconnected from their teams, which can negatively impact employee morale, productivity and their mental health. By keeping up with communication, you’re helping ensure that employees have opportunities and outlets to communicate whenever they need to. It’s important to consider many types of communication to meet individual styles.

Focus on adaptability and flexibility

After the last 18 months it’s looking like remote and hybrid working is going to be the norm. As we’ve mentioned above about employee expectations, employees are looking for flexibility in an employer, so they need to adapt accordingly.

An important aspect of an adaptive culture is that leaders empower employees to have a say in where and how they work.

Company culture must therefore become more accepting, open and flexible. It’s also likely that businesses have seen an increase in requests for flexible working arrangements and will see even more over the coming months – and these will be more difficult to turn down as workers believe they have “proven” that it is possible to do their job remotely.

Adaptive workplaces can help build a stronger, happier, and more engaged workforce – and that could decide whether your business thrives in the long term.

Do what you say you are going to do

Building a strong company culture is about putting everything you’ve talked about into practice and ensuring that you reward the behaviours you want to see through positive feedback and reinforcement and discouraging the behaviours you don’t want to see through feedback and HR processes.

Allowing unwelcome behaviours to thrive by overlooking bullying, micromanaging, favouritism, lack of inclusivity, or hostility from one or more of your employees creates a culture. Your culture becomes all of the bad day behaviours that you turn a blind eye to and leave unchallenged, not what you say, or have on the wall.

If you say you’re a company focused on your people, demonstrate this by investing in them.

Do as you say and you’ll be rewarded with a strong culture and a happy, engaged and motivated team.

It’s vital to stay on top of what your employees need and continue shaping a culture that aligns accordingly. Visit our Refocus page for the latest blogs and guidance.

If you’d like to chat to one of our team about your company culture, or any other HR concern, contact [email protected]