In the HR world of talent recruitment and retention, corporate culture has always been a priority. There are many studies and plenty of anecdotal evidence to show the organic correlation between a healthy work culture and a healthy bottom-line. The COVID-19 pandemic has now forced businesses to truly view their employees as human beings as opposed to human doers. Paying lip-service with mere intellectual assent is no longer an option. People are being asked to juggle many stressful new demands: working from home at the kitchen table, homeschooling their kids, clocking back in after bedtime to catch up on emails, and possibly even absorbing a loss of income or work hours. In addition, there are societal issues that are requiring families to be vulnerable and have difficult conversations. During challenges like these, your employees want to know that you’re looking out for them. Talk is easily dismissed, so demonstrate your commitment to their wellness with a focus on five critical areas.
- Trust and transparency: Creating an environment where leadership is more than a title. Leaders who are respected as welcoming, dependable, and trustworthy can motivate the team to be focused and dedicated, even during challenging times.
- Vision and purpose: Everyone needs to feel a sense of purpose and understand that their contribution is making a difference. Taking time to update and live out your vision / Employment Value Proposition is time well spent.
- Open communication and support: Changes are a natural part of sustaining excellence. However, employees need managers who honestly explain why changes are necessary and how they will work toward the greater good.
- Empowerment and creativity: Your team will thrive when they have the resources and tools they need to succeed, and are then empowered to act on their creative intelligence.
- Listen with empathy and compassion: Your employees long to be heard and validated. Not every need can be met nor will every personal journey end happily. Control what you can by maintaining an “open door” policy, providing employees direct access to leadership. When possible provide resources, counselors or coaches that can help people navigate this new ground.
Once you determine what you want to communicate and why it’s important, you can focus on the internal logistics of the message.
- Where to communicate: Take a look at your internal communications data or create employee surveys to learn which specific channels are performing the best for you right now as your employees adjust to working in a different dynamic. This could include video conference, email, intranet and videos.
- When to communicate: Business-critical situations are changing at a rapid pace, and you will likely need to pivot to keep your cultural and competitive position. Stay agile, and ahead of the rumor mill, by finding a regular communication cadence. It will put employees’ minds at ease.
- Who should communicate: Employees look first to leaders within the company who have earned their trust and have modeled integrity, to set the tone. Regular updates and messages of encouragement should come from those who can provide honest and articulate insights, with both optimism and inspiration.
- How to support communications: Carefully craft your internal messages during times of rapid change. Be transparent and empathetic, using real data to validate your rationale while never losing sight that your decisions are impacting real people with real concerns in real time.
Stay tuned for more in our thought leadership series on the employee and customer experience (CX)! Making investments in your corporate culture will serve you well now, and into the future.