HR plays a pivotal role in managing significant organizational changes, from mergers and workforce expansion to new leadership and global crises. As the initial impact of these changes subsides, it’s essential to refocus on a fundamental element of your organization: maintaining company culture.

While certain initiatives might need to be postponed—like company events, expansion plans, or new hires—preserving and nurturing your company culture should remain a priority. Focusing on your core values and organizational culture will provide critical support to your employees, helping them stay motivated and engaged during transitions.

In the fast-paced world of business, change is inevitable. Whether it’s a merger, a shift in leadership, or adapting to new market conditions, these transitions can disrupt even the most established company cultures. 

Let’s take a look at some ways your company can maintain its culture in such growing times:

Cultivate a Strong Company Culture Through Core Values

Company culture is shaped by the collective behaviors, thoughts, and interactions of your team, reflecting both explicit guidelines and unwritten norms. If left unattended, a culture will form organically, but it may not align with your desired values.

The first step in preserving company culture during challenging times is to intentionally build it on a solid foundation of core values and continually reinforce these principles. Integrating values into daily operations ensures that the culture remains aligned with the organization’s goals and identity. Research highlights that clearly defined values significantly enhance company culture.

Do: Regularly communicating your core values through meetings, newsletters, and training sessions will help in maintaining company culture in the phases of growth.

Embrace Adaptability and Flexibility

When new circumstances make it difficult to maintain previous cultural initiatives, it’s essential to remain adaptable. Your core values remain constant, but the way they are expressed through your company culture might need to change, especially during a crisis, and that’s perfectly fine.

Adapting your cultural programs doesn’t mean you’ve failed to uphold your values. Instead, it demonstrates your ability to reinforce those values through a flexible and responsive approach, ensuring they stay relevant and impactful in any situation.

Case Study: Managing Time Off and Hybrid Work with AttendanceBot

Figured is a New Zealand SaaS company that provides financial management software for agricultural advisors. As they expanded into Australia, the UK, and the US, and shifted to hybrid work, communication challenges emerged which threatened their prized company culture. Team members struggled to track colleagues’ availability, impacting their collaborative ethos.

To adapt to this period of change, Figured adopted a Slack software called AttendanceBot, to better manage and communicate time-off and scheduling. The goal was to allow employees to manage schedules without leaving their primary communication platform – Slack – so they weren’t adding extra steps or distractions to existing workflows.

By reacting quickly to crisis and investing in a low-profile software solution, Figured achieved several goals that helped employees navigate their company growth:

  • Visibility: AttendanceBot provided daily or weekly reminders of absences, eliminating confusion about team availability and ensuring projects stay on track.
  • Reporting: Manual data gathering was replaced by instant access to time-off data within Slack, enhancing decision-making and reducing administrative effort.
  • Focus: The intuitive, training-free software choice replaced a burdensome manual system, saving significant time and effort.

Figured was ultimately successful in preserving its culture through its rapid expansion and switch to hybrid work, which wouldn’t have been possible without quick, confident decisions and investment in cultural priorities.

Do: Create flexible policies that allow for remote work and flexible hours.

Tip: Highlight success stories of teams that thrived under flexible work arrangements.

Prioritize Your Employees

During times of upheaval, it’s easy to get lost in the surge of tasks and overlook the core focus of HR: the employees. Most HR experts emphasize that while managing tasks can feel reassuring during a crisis, HR must prioritize relationship-building and employee-focused initiatives.

Staying in a crisis mindset isn’t sustainable. Employees need ongoing support and engagement, which are crucial for maintaining a strong company culture. Regular communication, comprehensive benefits, and recognition programs are vital elements that bolster culture, especially during transitions.

Do: Implement regular check-ins to discuss workload and mental health.

Tip: Introduce wellness programs that include mental health days and virtual fitness classes.

Communication: Regular and Transparent Engagement

Maintaining an open dialogue with employees is essential for the company’s culture during growth. Establishing consistent communication channels fosters a culture of transparency, thereby building trust within the organization and confidence in leadership’s decisions. This becomes particularly crucial during periods of significant change or when encountering challenges.

While it’s unrealistic to eliminate all employee anxieties, HR plays a pivotal role as the advocate for both culture and employees. However, decision-making isn’t solely within HR’s domain. While it’s vital to keep employees informed about pertinent updates such as office closures, proposed changes, or potential adjustments in compensation, inundating them with every detail of internal discussions is counterproductive.

Overwhelming employees with information doesn’t enhance their sense of security. Therefore, the primary objective of communication during times of transition should be to preserve company culture by effectively managing employee emotions.

Do: Use multiple channels (e.g., Slack, emails, town halls) to keep employees informed.

Tip: Implement a “question of the week” initiative where leadership addresses employee concerns in real time.

Benefits: Enhancing Employee Well-being through Resourceful Approaches

During challenging times, it may not be practical to overhaul your organization’s benefits program. Implementing changes to benefits requires substantial effort and can introduce additional financial and strategic uncertainties. However, there are opportunities to leverage existing resources creatively to support employee well-being amidst stress.

Consider the following strategies to enhance employee support through minor adjustments to benefits and perks for maintaining company culture:

  1. Facilitate remote work: Numerous studies indicate that remote work can alleviate stress, enhance productivity, and promote a healthier work-life balance for employees.
  2. Encourage the utilization of paid time off (PTO): Taking breaks allows employees to recharge and ultimately enhances productivity. Promoting an organizational culture that values employee well-being includes reassuring employees that taking time off will not jeopardize their job security.
  3. Promote mental health and self-care practices: Cultivating a workplace culture that prioritizes mental health begins with leadership and management setting the example. Providing resources and support for managing stress can foster a positive environment for employees.
  4. Educate employees about available support services: Informing employees about existing resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or wellness initiatives, can help them cope with stress and seek professional assistance when needed.
  5. Foster positive workplace relationships: Hosting virtual gatherings or facilitating informal meetings can promote camaraderie and boost morale among employees. Regular check-ins provide opportunities for managers to engage with their teams and monitor well-being without adding undue stress.

Tip: By adopting these resourceful approaches, organizations can enhance employee well-being and support during challenging times without overhauling their benefits program.

Master the Art of Recognizing Your Employees

In times of crisis, maintaining employee engagement and productivity is crucial, and recognition plays a vital role in achieving this. Contrary to popular belief, meaningful recognition doesn’t always have to originate from the CEO, nor does it have to be extravagant.

Research by Gallup reveals that the most impactful recognition often comes from immediate managers. While monetary rewards are appreciated, other forms of recognition also leave a lasting impression. These include public commendation, private acknowledgment, and recognition for outstanding performance during reviews and evaluations.

HR’s role is to uphold the overarching company culture, while managers focus on nurturing culture at the individual employee level, a crucial factor for successful employee recognition. Therefore, if you aim to boost employee motivation amidst adversity, it’s essential to equip managers with the skills to champion culture and acknowledge and celebrate their team’s accomplishments.

Do: Regularly recognize employees’ achievements publicly and privately, and consider using an employee recognition committee, employee recognition software, or a new recurring forum for sharing recognition.

Tip: Develop a peer-to-peer recognition program that empowers employees to acknowledge each other’s contributions.

Foster Optimal Work Environments by Cultivating Company Culture

In times of turbulence, a resilient and supportive company culture serves as a cornerstone for organizational stability. HR assumes a central role as expert in both culture and people management. During periods of significant change or crisis, leadership and employees often look to HR for guidance amidst uncertainties. By steadfastly upholding company culture, HR provides a sense of purpose and continuity, emphasizing the organization’s values, mission, and vision.

Even in the face of evolving circumstances necessitating adjustments to company culture, transparent communication, provision of supportive resources, and acknowledgment of employee contributions remain vital. These measures not only instill confidence in the organization but also foster resilience among employees, ensuring a steadfast commitment to the future.

Lead by Setting an Example

The culture within an organization is deeply influenced by its leaders, particularly the CEO and board of directors. As a leader, your behavior serves as a model for your team, influencing how they perceive and respond to challenges. Your strengths and weaknesses are magnified within the organization, impacting the morale and work ethic of your employees. 

Whether during times of prosperity or adversity, your leadership style shapes the culture and attitudes of those you lead. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of the example you set, as it directly influences the overall tone and atmosphere within the organization.

Do: Share personal stories of leadership challenges and successes to inspire your team.

Adapting Company Culture to Employee Needs

Maintaining company culture encompasses the collective values and behaviors exhibited in daily interactions. Similar to strategic planning, culture is established at the organization’s inception but must evolve continually to address the evolving needs of employees. It is imperative that all employees consistently reinforce these values and behaviors through their actions on a daily and weekly basis.

Embrace Accessibility and Feedback

Effectively managing company culture demands a deliberate approach, often facilitated by maintaining an open-door policy. Chaos can ensue when employees refrain from providing feedback, and assuming that organizational upkeep occurs autonomously exacerbates the situation. Engage with your staff to understand the ideal workplace environment they envision or aspire to be part of, and attentively listen to their input to adapt and scale accordingly.

Hire Employees Who Value Your Principles

When your company is growing quickly and there are many new opportunities, it’s crucial to ensure that your company culture remains robust. This starts by continuously discussing your values. When you’re hiring new team members during this period, it’s essential to find individuals who share your beliefs. They’re the ones who will help propel you further.

Do: Incorporate cultural fit assessments into your hiring process.

Tip: Feature interviews with long-standing employees on your careers page to showcase your culture.

Reward Employees Who Value Your Principles

Hire employees who align with your company’s core values and then reinforce those values by incorporating them into performance reviews and promotions. Recognize and reward employees who consistently demonstrate these principles, ensuring that cultural fit is a key criterion for career advancement. 

By fostering a culture where values are actively practiced and appreciated, you not only enhance employee engagement and loyalty but also maintain organizational integrity and cohesion. Employees who embody your principles serve as ambassadors for your brand, attracting like-minded talent and contributing to a positive work environment where everyone thrives.

Forge Emotional Bonds

During periods of growth, every day brings new developments. Keep the conversation flowing at the same pace as productivity and innovation. Utilize platforms like Slack, interactive dashboards, and quick standup meetings to stay connected. It’s equally vital to recognize progress, express gratitude, build a sense of community, and make room for enjoyment. A vibrant culture emerges when teams share an emotional connection with the mission and with each other.

Do: Organize regular team-building activities and informal gatherings.

Tip: Use digital tools to create virtual lounges where employees can interact casually.

To Sum Up

In conclusion, maintaining company culture during times of growth is a dynamic process that requires proactive engagement and adaptation. By prioritizing open communication, fostering emotional connections among team members, and aligning hiring practices with core values, organizations can sustain a vibrant culture amidst rapid expansion. 

Embracing change as an opportunity to reinforce shared beliefs and nurture a sense of community empowers teams to navigate challenges and seize new opportunities with confidence. As companies continue to evolve and grow, nurturing a strong and cohesive culture remains essential for fostering innovation, driving success, and ensuring long-term sustainability.