WHILE THE STRESSES of the pandemic have caused many organizations to chase “making the numbers” fiscally, along with maintaining staffing levels, many have not had the time to address the newfound issues that have arisen with employee well-being and its impact on workplace culture.
In just under two years, the way in which we think about and manage our employees and teams has radically shifted. As leaders continue their work to fulfill the increase in staff vacancies, they must navigate the added complexity of managing in-person, hybrid, and remote working environments. In addition, many leaders and staff have also redefined their priorities and are approaching their work in new ways.
Life during and after COVID will never be the same and business and nonprofit leaders must adapt to continue to deliver their mission and value proposition.
As a leader, a good place to begin is to reflect on the situation both then and now through the lens of your staff.
During the early days of the COVID pandemic, many employees found themselves operating in crisis mode. While leaders grappled with how to continue to serve their clients safely and effectively, many of whom would prove to be the most vulnerable, there was a divide among employees. Those that were deemed essential workers were being asked to remain in-person and those that were nonessential were asked to remain at home to work remotely.
Regardless of their role or the environment in which they were working, few were exempt from the feelings of stress and anxiety and the growing apprehension about what the future would bring. This led many to examine their career choices, how they interacted with their colleagues, and the way they approached their jobs.
This altered the operational world and workforce environment dramatically and leaders must now embrace the change to maintain organizational sustainability. This begins with reassessing and redefining culture to better reflect the environment we are now operating in.
Where there are many reasons to reboot your organization’s culture, the following are most applicable present-day:
- Service delivery has changed.
- The addition of new employees with different levels of perspective and values.
- Team members need to reconnect with the purpose and mission of the organization.
- Organizations need to build new social bridges and learn how to engage with each other again.
- Balancing “making the numbers” with the well-being of team members.
- Strong social connections create strong inter-personal relationships.
- Building a defined culture together helps to build ownership and purpose.
Whether one, several, or all the above reasons apply, the process of redefining culture must be collaborative. Engaging employees in a way that inspires purpose and participation will ensure ownership in the process and result in a culture that is clearly defined, upheld, and accurately represents the organization.
Framing the process as a journey of resetting together can often be what burnt-out or disengaged employees need to reawaken identity, purpose, and passion.
Consider creating focus groups and providing staff with the following points for discussion to get started:
- Describe our ideal culture.
- List three positives and three things to change.
- Name our top three biggest cultural priorities.
Depending on the size of your organization, staff can work independently or as a group reporting key themes to leadership.
Ultimately, an organization’s culture should reflect this collaborative effort in its own prioritization of team, talent, and staff. It is your employees that are client and customer facing and a staff that is well cared for will, in turn, provide the best care possible. This will have the added benefit of ensuring that culturally aligned staff are joining and remaining with your organization long-term.