Company Culture and the Pandemic

6 min. read

Employers and employees disagree about company culture during the Covid pandemic.

A recent series of surveys conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) uncovered a big disconnect between how executives, HR managers, and employees feel about how company culture has impacted working Americans during the COVID pandemic.

Almost three-quarters of executives polled (72 percent) said they believe that their company culture has improved since the start of the pandemic. Only 21 percent of HR managers and 14 percent of employees agree.

What’s causing this disconnect?

Communication issues, altered workloads, and employees voluntarily leaving their companies are the primary reasons for negative changes in workplace culture during the pandemic.

Almost 100 percent of HR managers say they encourage open and transparent communication, but only one in four employees feel that is happening in their workplace. One of the problems is the sudden change to remote or hybrid work arrangements.

Nearly half of employees (44 percent) who worked remotely at least some of the time feel isolated or disconnected..

Communication Strategies to Improve Company Culture

Could this disconnect apply to your company culture? Poor workplace communication leads to inefficiency and mistakes.

Through open communication and effective collaboration an organization can build a team of employees who are engaged, productive, and innovative. The following strategies provide diverse opportunities for both formal and informal communication across an organization.

Addressing these communication issues can help your company become an amazing workplace.

1. Facilitate Communication in the Workplace with Technology

Whether an organization has teams that work together in person or primarily remote workers, providing the right tools should be a crucial part of its communication strategy. Communication tools are digital solutions that allow teams to collaborate quickly and easily and perform at a more productive rate. There are a variety of tools on the market that serve different purposes including instant messaging, video calls, task management, and project management.

Giving employees more opportunities to connect makes it easier to create an open environment where team members can share ideas and follow up with each other proactively. With the right communication platforms employees can consistently monitor progress in real-time and make sure tasks and projects are running well.

Online communication in the workplace is also important for team building. For example, team chat platforms not only mean team members can get answers to questions quickly, but they provide a channel for employees to interact on a more informal basis to develop professional and personal relationships.

2. Create a Culture of Openness

Employees who feel their voice is heard in the workplace are almost five times more likely (4.6x) to feel empowered to deliver their best work. That is why it is so important to cultivate an open environment and build free-flowing workplace communication into the fabric of the company culture.

Creating a non-judgmental culture where employees are confident to speak honestly about what is working and where improvements can be made is not always easy. It is best achieved from the top down, so management can lead by example and promote openness and accountability.

Team leaders can create a culture of openness by:

  • Setting expectations at the beginning of meetings that all ideas are welcome, and attendees should not be afraid to ask questions
  • Encouraging inclusive brainstorming sessions
  • Consistently giving and asking for honest, constructive feedback and being receptive to it

3. Be Specific

When tasks are completed incorrectly or not at the right speed it can lead to project delays and inefficiency. This can frustrate both management and team members. According to the statistics, 57 percent of employees report not being given clear directions and 69 percent of managers are not comfortable communicating with their employees in general.

Clear communication in the workplace is essential to reduce mistakes and ensure that employees fully understand the work they have been asked to do. Team leaders who are assigning tasks must be specific. All parties should grasp what needs to be done, when it should be completed, how it should be executed, and how the task should add to the larger project or long-term goals of the organization.

Training managers to give specific instructions and explain what they need and how it should be done, especially if there are specialized processes involved, leads to fewer disappointments and mistakes. Employees should also be encouraged to request the details they need, and their questions should be met with positivity.

There are various project management tools that can help with these processes by clearly defining tasks, assigning them to specific team members, and asking them to check them off when they are completed or need review. This means everyone involved has a clear view of how the project is progressing and where focus might need to be directed.

4. Celebrate Achievements and Milestones

It is important that feedback does not only flow one way within an organization. Effective communication in the workplace should include feedback that makes the company better and that helps employees learn and grow. That is why celebrating achievements and milestones is vital on both individual and team levels, across the organization.

Everyone likes to hear they are doing a good job. It improves employee morale and reinforces good work practices. When you celebrate an individual, it can make them feel proud of their performance and encourages them to continue to perform above and beyond. Celebrating the work of a team reinforces shared goals and creates bonds that improve team connection.

It is possible to celebrate these milestones in both formal and informal ways and it is good to encourage team leaders to think outside the box. For smaller wins, acknowledging them in a team meeting or via team chat can work well. For larger achievements, these can be recognized when employees of the organization are all together (for example at a quarterly review or on a team building exercise).

In any organization, it is important to develop a healthy and beneficial communication strategy for all employees. Effective communication in the workplace is the key to achieving employee well-being and a healthy bottom line.

SHRM Study