Culture Continuity™ During Crisis

Organizations that connect business decisions with company culture are on target for higher levels of engagement, loyalty, and productivity.

By Debbie Bolla

During times of uncertainty, a strong company culture aligned to core organizational values is paramount in maintaining business fluidity and high levels of employee engagement. For some organizations, the recent COVID-19 global pandemic has been a testament to that.

“When there is a shift in the marketplace due to a natural disaster, a company’s decision-making should remain consistent with its culture,” explains Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, chief workforce scientist for recognition partner Achievers. “A culture with a strong foundation based on values should go unchanged during a crisis. When culture is managed this way, great things happen, allowing more diversity of thought and improved employee experiences.”

In order to achieve this, organizations need to make Culture Continuity™ a priority. Culture Continuity™ is defined by Achievers as the maintenance of culture alignment and the extent to which an organization aligns its business decisions to its company values. “Each company has a small set of values and when they align everything, from hiring to onboarding to managing people, around them, they will experience culture alignment and ultimately Culture Continuity™.”

Take, for example, development. If development is a core company value, HR should continue to provide learning opportunities even during these challenging times. Career trajectories may be put on hold due to budget restraints, Baumgartner says, but organizations can support employees through training programs. Today’s technology can empower the workforce to gain new skills and hit professional goals with minimal investment.

Three Steps to Culture Continuity™

Organizations that keep their eye on their values and maintain culture alignment experience many benefits that drive bottom-line results. In fact, Achievers research shows that companies that actively engage in culture alignment are six times more profitable and are 30 percent more likely to retain top performers.

Baumgartner says there are three steps that are critical to maintaining Culture Continuity™.

1. Define company values. Organizations need to clearly communicate their four to six core values and ensure they are leveraged to drive business decisions. Baumgartner recommends creating a strategic plan around defining values, sharing them, and showing employees how they connect with business decisions.

“Organizations that have clearly defined values will communicate them and how they impact business decisions on a frequent basis,” she says. “Make sure the communication is consistent. For example a newsletter from the CEO is a thoughtful approach.”

2. Leverage employee recognition. “In a state of chaos and crisis, there is no more powerful way to engage employees than with recognition,” says Baumgartner.

A key to successful recognition is making sure it is aligned with core values. When organizations reinforce ideal employee behaviors and actions through recognition, they will see them being repeated in the future. Leveraging a tech tool that allows for individual recognition to be shared among the entire organization increases the impact of that appreciation.

3. Take action. From hiring to onboarding to succession planning, all organizational approaches should be aligned with core values and culture to maintain Culture Continuity™. Baumgartner says any time managers and leaders are making a change, they should look to their values, take pause, and ensure an aligned outcome is made.

Culture Continuity™ can be a key differentiator as businesses move into the new normal. “Culture is a North Star guiding organizations to make the right decisions. If it is maintained during crisis, organizations that are achieving Culture Continuity™ now and in the future are likely to have higher levels of engagement and satisfaction.”

Posted June 15, 2020 in Performance Management & Rewards

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