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Your People's Values are Changing. Is Your Business Keeping Pace?

Your People's Values are Changing. Is Your Business Keeping Pace?

5 Minute Read

Learn how your organization can navigate the significant shift in workplace culture.h

COVID-19 upended the global business community in ways we haven’t seen in decades — or, potentially, ever. From the shift to remote working arrangements to the reinvention of product and service offerings, companies across Canada and beyond have undergone immense transformations — transformations that would have typically taken five years or more — in just a few short months.

This rapid shift has been difficult. And with even more disruption and uncertainty on the horizon, it’s tempting to find comfort in the light at the end of the tunnel — the day when the vaccine roll-out is complete and businesses can, once again, return to normal.

The only trouble with this coping tactic? The old definition of normal doesn’t exist anymore. To make it through to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies need to accept, and prepare for, a new way of doing business.

This new approach will largely hinge on harnessing the power of your people in different and innovative ways. As discussed in our recent webinar led by MNP’s Jim Cruickshank and our guest Carol Faull, Founder and Principal of Carol Faull & Associates Ltd, COVID-19 has permanently changed what workers value in their jobs, how they define their sense of purpose, and how they operate productively in a workplace setting.

If you missed the webinar, below is the recording:


Webinar debrief: exploring three key areas for culture transformation

According to the Barrett Centre Global COVID-19 Culture assessment, organizational cultures are shifting away from the results- and achievement-oriented settings that were common pre-pandemic and towards values such as adaptability, agility, and digital connectivity. In the same vein, the research found that today’s workers respond better to employers who are caring and who prioritize things like employee health and well-being. They also prefer working in environments that favour teamwork, collaboration, and information-sharing over the rigid bureaucracies of the past.

Understanding all this, companies that want to keep employees engaged need to commit to new ways of working. But what should that working environment look like and how do you go about creating it? In our experience, it’s helpful to revisit three key areas: how your people work, how your company is organized, and how you approach employee well-being.

Invent a new way to work

COVID-19 is driving significant change throughout our lives. It provided many businesses with the push they needed to surge ahead in the 21st century and make investments that were, in some cases, years ahead of schedule.

When viewed in this light, it’s clear that—while it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops—there were unquestionably some positive changes coming out of this pandemic that could prove fruitful in the future. The key is to find out which ones are worth carrying forward.

Start by talking to your people to find out how their values have changed, and how to help them work as productively as possible. Once you do, you may find that people who once resisted the switch to working from home may, in fact, now prefer it over a return to the office. Similarly, some employees may enjoy more flexible hours or benefit from a regular virtual check-in from their boss.

The lesson here is there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits all working environment. Now that most companies have the ability to offer more options, you can finally give people a choice to work in a way that makes sense for them.

How that type of hybrid workplace will function depends on a lot of factors — factors that stem from the unique needs and preferences of your workforce.

A cultural re-organization

Understandably, if how your people prefer to work has changed, how your company is organized will also have to change.

If we return to the idea of creating a hybrid work environment, for instance, it’s clear the old way of doing things will no longer cut it. If half your employees opt to work from home, you won’t need as many brick-and-mortar offices as you did in the past. Likewise, if your management policies and frameworks are designed to evaluate employees who are physically present from 9 to 5, they likely won’t work the same way for virtual employees with a more flexible work schedule.

After speaking to employees to find out how they work best, it’s important to closely examine the existing design of your company and determine if the current set-up is equipped to meet the evolving needs of your people and business.

When taking on this seemingly momentous task, it can be helpful to figure out what key lessons you learned since the start of the pandemic and uncover ways to incorporate those lessons into your business framework. Essentially, you want to determine which business practices are okay to keep post-COVID, and which need to be tweaked or replaced to accommodate your new workplace culture.

Internally, this may involve reallocating your real estate budget, perhaps spending less on office leases and more on home office equipment. You may need to transition from a set hourly workday to a results-oriented work environment. From an external perspective, you may want to pay closer attention to how your competitors are shifting their strategic direction or re-examine your supply chain to seize opportunities to become more agile and flexible.

By understanding how your people prefer to work and reorganizing your business around those needs, you do more than demonstrate that upper management is listening. You can also preserve employee trust in the organization, bolster buy-in, and potentially uncover new business opportunities as well.

A human-centric approach

With more people working from home, the lines between personal time and work time have blurred. Many employees are working longer hours and home-life interruptions often impact the amount of work they can complete in a given day.

While it may be tempting to create stringent policies to enhance home-office productivity, the opposite route may be more effective. Demonstrating caring and compassion — and recognizing that your employees have lives outside of work — can go a long way towards achieving your end goal.

By creating HR policies with this mandate in mind, it will become easier to avert mass employee burnout and the debilitating drop in productivity that typically accompanies it. At the same time, prioritizing the needs of your employees—and demonstrating a sense of understanding—will enhance employee morale, reduce turnover and inevitably strengthen your post-COVID company culture.

Forget normal

Old mindsets die hard and the concept of completely re-designing your business to thrive in a post-COVID world can be a difficult one to get your head around. Yet, flexibility and agility seem to be the theme of 2020. To succeed going forward, you’ll need to create a new organizational culture — one that meets the changing priorities of your people.

By understanding the evolving values of your workforce, reorganizing your company as required, and fostering employee trust through caring and compassion, you can more efficiently harness the power of your people and create a more resilient organization all around.

To learn how MNP can help you get started on your workplace culture transformation, contact Jim Cruickshank, Senior Manager, Consulting Services, at 905.407.0511 or [email protected]


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