Workplace Culture in a New World

We’re different people coming out of the pandemic than we were going in. Our values have shifted — we’re more aware of our families and how work can either deter us from fully experiencing our lives or help us do so. Especially now, it’s incumbent on you to let your employees know what your company’s values are so that they know what’s important to you and your firm.

You very likely have employees who started with the company during the pandemic and have never truly experienced the firm and its culture as they used to be, and who may not know how to work with each other now that things are moving back to normal — a normal they never knew.

Let all employees feel empowered, building trust as you avoid micromanaging every detail. Especially now, after workers have had to be responsible for their work while at home, too much oversight will be overbearing. You can let employees know how they make a difference for the company to help them be a more cohesive team.

Face-to-face interaction still matters. It’s wonderful that companies were able to stay in business using videoconferencing and email, but those tools don’t convey subtle conversational cues that can help prevent miscommunication. They also don’t leave room for the small, informal conversations people have when they work in the same space. In person, you and your managers can give people space without appearing to ignore them. Now is the time for empowerment.

Informal feedback will help workers acclimate to the reopening. Regular brief, unstructured check-ins can help your employees understand how their behaviors measure up to what’s expected. See that feedback is timely, fair and balanced between positive and constructive. When you address a behavior, explain why the behavior is important with personal, specific examples. And when you give positive feedback, make sure you thank the employee and show your appreciation.

The quality of your communication with your team is paramount. Keep your words simple and to the point; consider body language and tone of voice. Use multiple channels to convey your message and reinforce it, and check that your employees understand what you’ve been trying to get across.

Make your workers feel appreciated. There are many ways to let employees know that you notice all their hard work. It may be as simple as a thank-you note or a callout at a meeting, or it may be part of an ongoing employee recognition program. Even working alongside an employee as they take on a task that no one enjoys can signal that you appreciate the hard work that that employee does every day. Every worker is different, so recognition needs to be customized to each person.

To cement your relationship with your team now that you’ll all be seeing each other more, show that you care about them as individuals. That means demonstrating that you support them and want to listen to their needs and being empathetic.

Always show respect for your employees and appreciation for what they do. Get to know your employees and what they care about. Be honest and open when communicating — a key factor in establishing trust. Culture is created through lots of influences, but the lockdowns of 2020 imposed dramatic changes on organizations practically overnight. Now it’s time to sift through the adjustments made and decide what to retain and what was better before. Engage with your team and use collaboration; your own conduct should be a model for your employees.

Prevent employees from relapsing into old, sometimes bad habits and preserve new-found trust and empowerment. You can extract the positive from what we have all been through these past months. Build on innovations to further transform your workplace, developing an approach for ongoing reinvention by being more resilient to disruption and open to serendipitous connections.


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