How to improve company culture in the throes of snap lockdowns

virtual meetings, remote
Bucharest, Romania – March 31, 2020: Shallow depth of field image (selective focus) with the Zoom video conference app/site – work from home during the covid-19 pandemic.

While we’re not in full lockdown globally, we are seeing snap lockdowns. Company culture has been strained at this time. Employees are feeling stressed and strained while business owners are trying to solve multiple new problems at once in order to minimise losses. We haven’t even mentioned the difficulty in adapting to remote work as a team. Is it any surprise that company culture has been bumped to the bottom of the company’s priorities?

It’s now time for employers to implement measures that nurture company culture again. The repercussions of unengaged employees directly correlate with a decrease in productivity and the overall income generation of the business. Improved company culture will also help businesses to reduce staff turnover and brighten the atmosphere surrounding the business, translating into better lenient retention or increased return business.

Here are four tips for nurturing your company culture when you’re trying to survive snap lockdowns

1. Stay connected (but not too much)

Regular meetings will help your team to stay connected and discuss any workflow issues that pop up. Host frequent Zoom check-ins to discuss the projects at hand. A detailed to-do list for each attendee will clarify the duties that need to be completed by the next Zoom call. Alongside this, create a channel for colleagues to use during the course of the week should they need to check in with a manager. Make an authoritative figure easily reachable for help at all times.

2. Maintain a “safe” working environment

The definition of safety changes when the workplace is no longer at work. A safe environment would welcome work-related questions and concerns from employees, provide the tools needed to perform well in these circumstances, make emotional support available, and enable employees to report matters like online sexual harassment, which has been a growing concern during lockdown.

Employees also need to experience job security and be reassured that their concerns will not result in the loss of their livelihood. Employers need to realise that productivity will slow down because many people may not have the ideal working conditions or the tools they are used to having.

3. Redefine the basics

You’ll need to go back to the drawing board with regards to working hours, lunch breaks, annual and sick leave as well as HR processes like reporting misconduct.

This is a time for flexibility. Research has shown that throughout this pandemic, flexible work opportunities have led to an increase in productivity. So maintaining flexible work options and policies is vital if you want to maintain productivity while being able to easily adapt to potential snap-lockdowns. It might also be wise to reassess your sick leave cycles.

While we have become accustomed to zoom calls, don’t discount the value (and ease) of picking up the phone. Normalising a quick phone call to check in on a project or ask a simple question breaks down that formal barrier that is sometimes created through zoom calls, and makes getting on with tasks easier.

4. Reward results

Are your teams getting on with work and solving new problems on their own? Are your teams managing to achieve their goals and complete their work tasks?

This may not have warranted reward before, but considering the number of new obstacles in place, recognising hard work and dedication from workers despite the state of the world is essential. Workplace culture must take a human-first approach.

Rewards might include online vouchers, recognition in the form of a certificate, or even an extra day off. However, verbally thanking employees with genuine appreciation on a regular basis will boost morale substantially without costing the company a cent. Take the time during meetings to acknowledge individual efforts.