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How to Build a Culture in Uncharted Territory

by Jody Ordioni

How to Build a Culture in Uncharted Territory

The outside world has been upended in the past few months. A global pandemic has forced almost everyone to the confines of their homes. On top of that, the anger of racial discrimination and injustice has finally boiled over. For businesses, this implies that corporate identity also has to undergo a dynamic shift and new ways to build said identity have to be looked at.

Unforeseen circumstances have led to unprecedented changes occurring within the companies. Unending calls for solidarity, committing to diversify workforces, and open forums are the immediate measures being applied. However, since the interaction is happening online and employees are demanding tangible changes from their management, it has become a precarious situation for leaders. Employers are being asked to have difficult conversations, with the added challenge of navigating remote work.

It is no secret that employee engagement is the decisive factor in a company's success. This dictum rang true, even before the pandemic and social unrest but in the face of these issues it has assumed greater importance. Employee engagement affects the bottom line. Taking the universal good principles as a basis, here are some tips that might help in building a better culture today:

Time to Take a Stand

Leaders have an important role in building the image and culture of the company. In times of unrest, employees look towards the leaders to decide their responses as well. The utmost priority of any leader right now should be to formalize the narrative of the brand. The company, through the leader's words and actions, has to take a concrete stand on issues that are raging on in the world.

Posting a cliché message on LinkedIn that says that the company stands against racial injustice or hiring a head of diversity is the bare minimum that can be done. This is the time to take a clear stand on where your company aligns with these values. The clearer your stand is, the better it will resonate with the employees and the public.

Employees have to be part of this conversation as well. Take their opinions and emotions into consideration. Nothing would be more disingenuous that the top-level executives imposing their decision on the employees. Building a positive, respectful, and impactful culture demands that the employees be active stakeholders in it.

Creating a Hub for Resources

The pandemic has more or less forced everyone to work from their homes. In such a situation, employees cannot meet in the office space and tend to miss out on information. Companies should not see this as a hindrance, rather as a challenge to chart innovative methods for employee engagement. This is the perfect time to let your content shine and boost your culture.

Since communication on a company-wide scale is difficult, leaders should ensure that there are internal hubs where employees can get updates about company initiatives, post feedback on policies, and get in touch with their supervisors if they have any problems.

Dedicated internal platforms can also be used to issue larger issues of racial equality, mental health, and a comprehensible action plan to deal with these issues. Brands can no longer afford to stay numb on important societal issues. Employees have to see engagement from the brand's side to believe that they stand for the values they claim. Delivering regular content through websites, blogs, or bylines is one way to achieve that.

Become the Gold Standard in Your Respective Industry

Brands should not wait for competitors to take action and then follow suit. Rather, the initiative should be taken by your own company and should set precedence for everyone else to emulate. In the new era, old hierarchies don't amount to anything, thus, making it a perfect opportunity to set the gold standard.

Become the company that takes charge and dictates how culture should function positively. When a crisis hits, it is but obvious that many would freeze and not be able to take meaningful action. By being the first responders, you can inspire and uplift the community in dealing with systemic problems.

Upholding integrity, in speech and action, and being fearless in the face of adversity would encourage your employees too. It would also create an impact on your target audience. Though it is easier said than done, your action of today will decide the fate of your company in the future. Make sure that you do the right thing.

The Bottom Line

Brands will be judged for all time to come based on their actions during this period of crisis. Those that fail to chart the right course will be left behind. By openly engaging your employees in meaningful dialogue and backing the talk with tangible action, the authority of your brand will only increase in the industry. It is your brand that will become an inspiration for others in moments of crisis.

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