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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

C-Suite Agenda

The Challenges Facing Company Culture in 2021

2021 has rolled around, with many companies continuing to operate remotely. This new dispersed workforce reality has made building and maintaining company culture a persistent challenge. How do you keep your culture alive? Who should be the advocate of company culture? Does that responsibility still rest on HR even though most remote employees have little to no interaction with them? The challenges of working remotely

By now, your employees have likely become used to working from home. They have their designated workspace, have learned to juggle their work and home responsibilities, and have carved out some type of working routine.

While we’ve all worked hard to facilitate a smooth transition to working remotely, the challenges can’t be ignored. Our teams are dispersed and our employees are isolated in their day-to-day work. This new reality can have a negative impact on our teams’ social health and our employees’ overall sense of belonging and culture.

As many companies move towards implementing hybrid work models, this will present further challenges surrounding engaging teams divided between working in the office and remotely.

How HR and company managers build culture differently

Before the pandemic, HR took central stage in building culture. With everyone working together at the office, it was HR that helped define and shape the company vibe with different initiatives and programs that encouraged collaboration and wellbeing.

With the move to remote work, employees are no longer interacting with each other at the office, and they are neither seeing HR nor feeling their impact directly. Whereas at the outset, HR took the helm on mental health issues, checking in on employees to see that they were ok and doing everything possible to alleviate all difficulties, yet now this has changed.

Employees tend to predominantly interact (virtually) within their teams. Team leads and managers have created a microcosm of the company within their teams and shaped a company culture on this micro-level. Rather than HR, the responsibility now falls on the team leads and managers to onboard new employees and introduce them to the company culture.

Even while working remotely, culture continues to be of central value to employees. Hibob’s research found that 77% of employees feel that corporate culture is essential.

Tips for establishing company culture at the micro-level  

Establishing company culture at the micro level requires a great deal of work, personalization, and understanding of each team member. Key themes in establishing a micro-culture are recognition, inclusion, unity, creative interaction, and communication.

  1. Recognition: Take the time to recognize employees’ accomplishments both privately and publicly. Using the bob HRIS, you can empower employees and share their achievements with others in the company using Shoutouts and Kudos.
  2. Inclusion: Keep team dynamics and composition at the forefront when recruiting and hiring. If team members struggle to voice their opinions or feel like they don’t belong, help ensure that they are heard and feel welcome and part of the team.
  3. Unity: Encourage employees to build relationships with each other by finding ways to connect professionally and personally. Consider incorporating group activities (whether remote or in-person) and team-wide projects into the team culture.
  4. Creative Interaction: Managers may need to get creative with how they interact with their teams. Do they really need another Zoom call or continuous Slack messages? Help build culture and belonging by finding out what your team has in common with each other and organize a virtual workshop or activity. Celebrate birthdays with virtual happy hours and recognize “the teammate of the week” with a virtual ceremony.
  5. Communication: Managers and team leads should set up clear and regular communication lines with their teams, whether in person, remotely, or a combination of the two. Leverage HR technology, Zoom, Slack, and other tools to engage and communicate on a personal and team level. Since HR is not regularly in touch with employees, managers must make sure they uphold and promote company values when communicating with the team on a day-to-day basis.

Fostering team culture when employees feel burnout

Now that managers and team leads bear the responsibility of caring for their teams and interact with them daily, they also need to be mindful of their wellbeing. They need to ensure that each team member is functioning well and not suffering from burnout or other mental health issues. Burnout is a very real phenomenon that can take a toll on an employee’s physical and mental health but can be challenging to detect and manage remotely.

Team leads and managers can schedule periodic one-on-one check-ins with their teams to gauge their wellbeing and offer them an open yet private space to express any concerns, whether mental, physical, or emotional.

Consider offering “mental health” days or half days if you see that team members seem overworked or overwhelmed. If you feel that there may be a more severe problem where someone may be putting himself or herself in danger, they should immediately involve HR.

The responsibility of fostering company culture and ensuring employee wellbeing in a remote world has moved from HR to managers and team leads. With individual teams becoming a microcosm of the company, team leads and managers have taken on an array of additional tasks such as keeping the company culture alive, ensuring that each team member is working well and happy, and being on the lookout for any warning signs of struggle or burnout. It is very challenging to uphold company culture while your teams work remotely, but with some planning and creativity, you can do it.


Written by Rhiannon Staples. Have you read?
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Rhiannon Staples
Rhiannon Staples, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of North America at leading HR Technology/ People Management Platform Hibob. With more than 15 years of experience leading global marketing strategy, teams, and programs at fast-growing startups, Rhiannon Staples is responsible for spearheading the people management software company’s go to market strategy. She draws from her experience at working at the people management platform to hold forth on how HR and company managers can balance employees’ needs, aspirations, and expectations. Rhiannon Staples is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.