Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have gone through huge upheaval. Let’s look at how we can maintain a positive work culture during times of change.
Many employees have to be very adaptable to the shifting work landscape. Due to the pandemic, more people than ever are now working remotely. This can lead to employees feeling more isolated and not feeling like they are part of a cohesive team. Maintaining a positive work culture is important, even if employees are not coming into an office every day.
There are many other big changes a company can go through that could potentially affect team morale. There could be a company merger or takeover. There could be big changes in the industry. There may be company expansion, or the company may be struggling and having to let people go.
Building a positive work culture
During times of change, a positive outlook is essential. Focus on the key values of your workplace. Recognise that your team may need time to adjust.
During a change at work, some elements may need to be pushed aside. You may have to take a close look at all your expenditures. It might not be the best time for advertising new job positions or buying the building next door. However, positive work culture is not something you should sacrifice.
Remember the importance of self-care
Self-care is essential if you want to maintain a healthy body and mind. It is often when self-care is the most important that we neglect it. If we are really busy or stressed, it becomes of paramount importance.
Find ways to model self-care, as well as encouraging your team to take regular breaks. In the current global climate, there is a lot of uncertainty. From pandemics to economic downturns, from climate change to war; we are faced with many problems. All of this can have a negative impact on the mental health of employees.
There are many ways that you can provide wellness resources for your team. You could provide mental health training in-person or online. You could point your team in the direction of wellness apps. You could even provide a work counsellor. All of this will help to build a supportive and positive work culture.
Make your team the top priority
During times of change, there may be so many tasks you need to focus on. During a crisis, it can be all too easy to forget about people. Make sure you keep a strong focus on relationships and positive communication. Find ways to recognise your team for all their hard work.
If employees feel that they are being treated fairly, they are much more likely to be loyal and motivated. Let them know how they are making a difference.
Keep company values at the centre
The company culture is formed of many elements. It includes everything that you do, say, and think. Company culture is reflected in written and unwritten rules. It is important that you have a positive work culture well before a crisis hits. This will make it much easier to ride through difficult times.
It is important that your company has clearly defined values. You then need to find ways to bring these values into everyday life at work. If you aren’t doing this, company culture will organically emerge that may not feel aligned with your values.
Share your vision
Actively take time to sit down with your team and talk about where you are headed. Talk about core values and how you can align with your purpose. Talk about strategies for working through this time of change. Discuss how you can all better support each other and create a positive work culture.
Work productivity may slump during times of change, and it’s important to remind people that they will learn to adjust. Sharing your vision will help everybody to feel like they have a common goal. Focus on the positive progress that your team is making and try to get everybody pulling in the same direction.
Adapt to survive
During work changes, some essential processes may need to change. For example, during the pandemic, it wasn’t possible to do job interviews face-to-face. It also meant that new employees couldn’t be given a warm welcome in the office.
This kind of challenge needs flexibility. HR teams would have needed to devise remote strategies for interviewing and onboarding new employees. It is important to find ways to transmit warmth and friendliness, even through a screen.
Use team-building exercises
There are many simple team-building activities that can be built into work meetings. You can ask employees to solve a puzzle together. You could ask people to compliment each other. You could have a show-and-tell to talk about accomplishments outside of work.
These activities may seem childish, but they are a creative and fun way that teams can bond. They can help to break the ice and help employees to get to know each other. Team building exercises can help to build trust and a sense of togetherness.
Team building exercises can also be done virtually. These kinds of activities can help to break up the day when somebody is sitting at home, working all day alone. You could try online games, bingo, or trivia.
Have open communication
During times of uncertainty, people may feel insecure at work. They may not even know whether they will still have a job in the future. It is important to be completely transparent with everything that you know. This will build trust in you and the company.
Being transparent doesn’t mean that you need to share every minor detail of board meetings. However, important information, such as pay cuts, branch closures, and proposed timelines, should definitely be made available.
It’s important to communicate in a way that will help staff to manage their emotions, rather than overwhelm them further. Be honest, but also be kind. Think about how messages will be received and whether team members may need extra support.
Make technology your friend
Remote work and hybrid work have now become the norm. The only way to move forwards is to make the best use of the technology you have available. Video conference tools, email, CRM software, automated expense software, and instant messaging services are now essential in any business.
Beyond these essentials, it is great to try and find ways to keep your team connected and build a positive work culture. You could have a chat group that is more informal and not about the work. Here, people could share pictures of their home life and trips out.
Focus on employee recognition
Employee recognition is very important when it comes to building morale, engagement, and work productivity. Meaningful recognition of team efforts doesn’t have to be expensive, although money and gift cards are certainly one way to recognise efforts and achievements.
Beyond this, a simple public commendation could mean the world to one of your staff. You can also call team members into your office and offer them praise in private. You could even have a reward scheme, which can be gamified to make it more appealing.
Examples of gamification in the workplace can include leaderboards, goal-tracking progress bars, points, and badges. These kinds of game-like elements can make people feel engaged with their own progress.
There are employee recognition platforms that can automate all of your recognition-based activities. Recognising the strengths, qualities, and efforts of your team will definitely help to maintain a positive work culture.
Offer work benefits
During times of change, you may need to think about what benefits you can offer your team to keep them in optimal shape. You don’t need to overhaul your benefits programme during a time of crisis completely, but you can think about what structures you already have in place that may be helpful.
You could encourage your team to take their paid holiday and have a break. This will refresh them and keep them in a state of productivity. Pushing people too hard will inevitably lead to burnout.
You could offer remote work or hybrid work to some of your employees. This may help to reduce stress. You can educate your team on what help they already have access to. This can include anything offered through their health insurance plan. You could even consider turning a small room in the office into a meditation room.
Show some compassion
This may seem obvious, but simply showing compassion can help to foster a positive work culture during times of change. A lack of compassion is something that affects many workplaces. Intense work pressure, discrimination in the workplace, abuse of authority, and lack of action when it comes to employee problems, are all commonplace.
It’s important that leaders recognise the challenges that employees face on a day-to-day basis. Simply feeling heard and understood can make a huge difference.
Make your expectations clear and consistent
Even during times of change, you can make it clear what you expect of people. For team members to feel any sense of harmony, they need some consistency. Everything may be changing around them, but at least they know what they are expected to do by the end of the day. This will help to give them some feeling of control over their own lives.
Your employees want to know what the rules are. They also want to know that these rules will be enforced in a predictable way. Amidst the chaos of change, this can be an anchor of stability.
Create a sense of purpose
Most employees crave a sense of meaning in their work. Without a sense of purpose, it’s difficult to build a positive work culture. Create a mission statement for your company and make sure that your team knows it by heart.
Give them examples of how their work is having a positive impact. Share inspiring storeys. Build connexions with the local community so that your company can contribute. Make sure that your company is carrying out ethical practises.
Make sure that your team has clear goals. Everybody should have an achievable objective that they are working towards. In this way, staff are not just working for the pay cheque, but to hit their target.
Serve as an example
One of the best ways to create a positive work culture is to make sure that you are bringing positivity into the workplace. During times of change, it is important that you are doing this on a daily basis.
Smile a lot. Express gratitude to the people around you. Remain optimistic even during the most challenging periods. Serve as an example and inspire others to be positive.
Empower your “positivity champions”
If there is somebody in the workplace who is keeping a cool head during times of crisis, make sure you recognise them. Celebrate that team member who encourages everyone to keep going. Identify who is keeping the morale high by bringing a bit of light and cheer into the workplace.
Make sure that you go out of your way to empower your “positivity champions”. Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts. Encourage them to carry on in this vein.
A healthy and productive work culture will allow for feedback. Employees should feel free to share their opinions. If changes are taking place that directly affects them, there should be space for them to be heard.
Communication is not only about informing people of changes. It should also include the opportunity to respond. Simply sending out a newsletter with no chance for dialogue, will make your team feel shut out and disregarded.
In this article, we discussed ways that we can keep a positive work culture during times of change. There are many challenges that we face in the world today, and the working landscape is shifting quicker than ever.
There are many ways that you can make times of transition easier for your team. From focusing on company values to promoting useful work benefits, you can help to keep your team motivated, energised, and together.
About the Author
Brenna Johnson is an HR professional based in New York, with a passion for technology and modernising the industry. She helps shape selectsoftwarereviews.com as senior editor, providing expert advice on the best HR and recruiting software.