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With working from home becoming the new norm for many companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the dynamics of routine at work has changed. Work is now being completed where employees are no longer having face-to-face interactions, and this has the capacity to create a disconnect within the workplace. 

At this time, upholding and strengthening a company’s culture is important in order to keep employees engaged and motivated to continue working. In addition, with the #BlackLivesMatter movement putting a much needed focus on racial inequality, it is more crucial than ever to ensure that employees are being valued and respected. 

Company culture refers to the set of values and behaviours that shape a business’ identity. These are often derived from a company’s mission statement and vision statement, which also contribute to what the company stands for and what the company envisions. 

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, it noted in a study that company culture is integral to a company’s success. One of the crucial factors that influence job applicants to apply towards a certain company is the company culture that it has to offer.

Company culture is embedded not just the actual company, but the employees who make the company culture come alive. So now that businesses are allowing employees to work from home, how are companies upholding and maintaining their company cultures?

Last week, HubSpot hosted a webinar titled “Serving Your Employees in Times of Uncertainty”, which discussed the various ways in which different companies are supporting the well-being of their staff during COVID-19, along with navigating racial inequality with the current events happening in the United States. 

The webinar was hosted by Katie Burke, the Chief People Officer at HubSpot, along with Khalil Smith, Vice President of Consulting at NeuroLeadership Institute, and Diane Marinovich, the Director of Talent at Loom.

They discussed key topics surrounding company communication, sustaining diversity efforts and creating value for employees.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this webinar, which emphasizes actions employers should take to uphold their company culture.

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Communication is vital during this time. With employees being physically apart and working from home, communicating with employees regularly is important to remind them that they are valued and are being looked after. Marinovinch in particular, noted that for a small company like Loom, she found that communicating may be easier, but it is equally important for large companies to reach out to employees so they are being treated as individuals, rather than just a number from a group of employees.

Embrace casual. This means, avoid the old corporate route of having everything scripted and refined to perfection. These are unprecedented times, and many companies are unsure how to go about addressing certain matters or pursuing company initiatives without sounding too informal. While many companies are conditioned into having everything set up in a professional manner, doing things without a clear plan is natural during this time, and employees and employers should embrace this. Burke stated that in Hubspot, they found it endearing seeing everyone in their homes, casually addressing everyone without the corporate touch as it felt more personal and relatable.

Always listen. When employees become unsatisfied, many may voice their concerns or opinions as to why they feel that way. As a company, it is important to listen to what your employees have to say. Now that employees are also working from home, it is important to communicate, but also listen as this plays an important role in making employees feel valued. Smith said during the webinar that employees can quit their job, but they can also quit in the workplace, which refers to employees who choose to disengage in the workplace and no longer put in as much effort into their work, while staying in the company. Listening is important, but it is important to also follow this up with actions.

Ask Questions. During these unprecedented times, it is important to listen, but to also ask questions to further educate both employees and employers about matters that they may not be knowledgeable about. With the #BlackLivesMatter movement addressing racial inequality, employers may attempt to send out messages to employees regarding this matter, and it may sound too vague or uninformed. During the webinar, Smith stated that individuals, including employers, should be educated to speak about something, but not when they are asking questions. Asking questions is crucial in educating yourself and others to improve communication.  

All the panelists agreed that during this time, it is important to carve out time to make connections and focus on humanity. These are key factors to uphold and potentially enhance company culture, but remember to focus on the individual employees and their well-being. 

While companies may not always know the right answer on how to address certain matters, they have others to turn to who can help support them during these times. Everyone has the capacity to learn and be better, now is the time to stop, listen and exercise these actions.