The pandemic forced organizations to relook at their infrastructure, benefits, culture & practices thoroughly. For organizations striving to scale to the next level of productivity and performance in the COVID-hit world, exploiting tech to build the social fabric that attracts and holds the best talent together is a must. The need of the hour is to integrate technology in a way that strengthens their culture and embeds trust and transparency as they gear up for the digital culture reset.
In an exclusive interaction with us, Sourabh Deorah, CEO and Co-founder, Advantage Club shares how can leaders make sure their cultures are adaptable and integrate technology in a way that it strengthens culture.
As companies pick themselves up and start trudging on in the COVID-stricken world with new working arrangements, how are organizations revamping their work culture in line with their core values?
The work culture is the foundation of an organization defined by the goals and values of its employees. It can be perfectly summed up in the phrase "how things work around here". COVID-19 has presented organizations with several unprecedented challenges. Even if most businesses are technically capable of adapting to the new normal, cultural shifts must be considered.
Some have instituted multiple engagement points to ensure seamless operations; others have fortified up their financial wellness offerings while certain companies went out of their way to ensure that their employees were well cared for. Every company is doing its part to provide a seamless work culture, from setting up 24-hour helplines to encouraging employees to spend enough time with their families. Employees' mental health is being addressed through a variety of virtual mediation sessions. Individualized coaching sessions with psychologists are also available to help manage stress and anxiety. Senior executives are encouraged to have open and honest discussions with their employees.
At Advantage Club, we have instituted spot surveys to understand how employees engage and interact in remote working. A robust follow-through process combined with actionable insights has created a feedback loop for continual improvement.
Overall, there has been a massive cultural shift across organizations, but they have adapted well thanks to technology. Work from home, or remote working, is the need of the hour, and it's here to stay. Employers and employees both see the benefits of working from home, and streamlined communication has been the key to ensuring that a company's values permeate through any kind of work environment.
How can leaders make sure their cultures are adaptable now that it's harder to solidify shared beliefs with a distributed workforce?
As COVID-19 hit the world, companies began to question whether having an office or working together is truly necessary.
Remote working has proven to be advantageous to both employees and employers. For months now, employees have been working from home.
Various companies have allowed their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis, allowing them to come to work whenever convenient. Employees are becoming accustomed to working remotely, and companies are making every effort to keep everyone connected. HR departments conduct routine checks on their employees via phone calls and informal meetings. In addition, the digital learning aspect has taken a new turn. Companies have also made contests, quizzes and fun virtual events a part of their workday to bring financial wellness topics and resources to life.
To summarize, organizations that can create a seamless work environment in which employees can freely communicate and work efficiently will be the ones that will be able to solidify shared beliefs even with a distributed workforce.
How are organizations integrating technology in a way that strengthens culture?
While technology has started playing a crucial role in the world and its advancements, After COVID-19 struck, it has also become an integral part of people's lives. As a result, companies have realized that adaptive measures need to be taken regarding integrating the latest technology as part of their businesses.
One key aspect that needs to be kept in mind to integrate technology to strengthen business/work culture is education on the same.
In addition, people in most companies are spread across different age groups, and thus should be allowed to adapt to this change of daily use of technology (for all aspects).
The second is work flexibility: As the pandemic has rained havoc upon the world, managing one's family, household chores, or coping with losses and stress while staying at home can add as an additional burden for many. Companies should be able to provide flexible deadlines and substitutes for people finding it difficult to manage the workload.
Weekly sessions should be conducted to keep a check on employees' progress reports and their mental and physical health. Helpline numbers to employees should be provided to reach people within the company to create a transparent environment in regards to the difficulties faced by them.
Companies with their employees out in the physical world should keep a closer and more frequent check on them, giving them breaks and free health check-ups or medical facilities. On the other hand, the recruitment process of new employees, while important, should be modified, introducing a new outlook, ensuring that it adds to the previously existing work culture without any significant transformations.
What are some of the best practices you will advise to organizations to embed trust and transparency in the virtual working environment?
It's high time for companies to be more employee-centric than ever. If an employee is unwell or sick, the company they work at should be able to earn their trust by vouching to provide them with paid leave and medical help if need be. Confidential meetings with HR for people across all positions should be made available, and action should be taken accordingly. In addition to this, positive incentives and recognitions should be provided to people performing well to show further appreciation towards them.
The lesser the negative incentives or restraints during the pandemic or in an online set-up, the greater the trust and higher the transparency within the company. Alongside all this, safe online spaces should also be built, keeping in mind the employees' psychological needs.
It is advisable that there should be meetings held at all levels of a company, either weekly or in a few days, to be able to address problems and check on progress reports. This could lead to a sense of peer review, building a safer and more comfortable environment.
With the uncertainty still ongoing, how can organizations take this moment to embrace a forward-thinking approach to how they will sustain their organizational culture?
As time has progressed, we notice that many companies and their employees are getting accustomed to the ongoing change. The ongoing pandemic has helped companies shift online, not just in terms of their work but also in their advancement. Focusing on the positive aspects of this change, we discern how having meetings online is extremely efficient whilst ensuring multiple tasks being conducted simultaneously.
Taking and inculcating these very advancements in their stride, companies should leverage internal resources such as social media and communications teams and employee resource groups to ensure a smooth transition even in the face of uncertainty. A shift in the work platform doesn't need to mean a change in organizational culture. It simply means to make modifications to the already existing culture whilst keeping it intact.