Company culture is an HR buzzword that began by plastering the office walls with positive acronyms, fruit Company culture is an HR buzzword that began by plastering the office walls with positive acronyms, fruit bowls and foosball. No question organizations have now found it challenging to maintain synergy in their culture as they continuously pivot. Many companies that thrived with a culture of in-person collaboration are now finding a sense of disconnect. Those who implemented regular team building or travel events have lost core tools for remaining connected, and companies who based a large part of engagement on material rewards and recognition programs are struggling to replace those foundations.

“We actually don’t’ know the strength of a team or a family or a community until there are rough waters. We actually don’t’ know how good our culture is until we face a crisis. And so,  the question is, are you laying the foundation that is more likely to produce a team of a group of people or a community that will come together rather than abandon and save themselves?”

Simon Senik

However difficult these changes have been, this shift in norms presents a unique opportunity for companies to embrace a culture re-boot.  But it’s not as easy as pushing the reset button and leaders are faced with the challenge of understanding their evolved employees as well as trying to navigate the process of rebuilding culture.  Building a strong culture has historically been a difficult task that has been made tangibly more difficult by the disappearance of many of the go-to activities and strategies.

One of the first steps leaders can take, is to take inventory of the “red flags”.

Lack of loyalty – When the turnover rate is soaring, this is a dead giveaway that your culture is not aligned with employees needs.

Lack of recognition – Only acknowledging your top-performing employees is a recipe for disaster in the workplace.

Lack of core values – Everyone on your team, including the leaders, should know them, respect them, and promote them.

Lack of down-time – Now more than ever, people are admitting they are mentally drained.  Many employees who are working from home are having a hard time disconnecting at the end of the workday. When your team isn’t getting the breaks they need, you can expect them to be increasingly disheartened by their work.

Lack of reliability – Frequent lateness or tardiness and missed deadlines can be a significant sign that your team is feeling disconnected and disinterested in their work.

No leader wants to hear that their culture is bad but if that’s the case, there is only one place to go! Start by asking your team to identify what isn’t working so it can lead to an honest evaluation and push for change.

  • Own it – Lay out the pain points your team is experiencing and acknowledge where the current “system” has fallen short. Aligning with employees needs will lay the foundation for a clear path forward. Allow your team to become invested in creating a better future not only for themselves but the team they have now, and the team members they will have in the future.
  • Shape it – We are naturally going to be impacted by the environments in which we reside, and when it comes to an office environment, it might be incredibly advantageous to take a moment and analyze if there is space for change. Have we as leaders carved out the room needed for team members to experiment with systems, stand out among current behaviors and test the organization’s structure? Supportive conditions give these people the permission to “rock the foundations” of old behaviors and breakthrough to innovative change!
  • Develop it – It is essential to remember that people are not blueprints and you can’t control emotions.  Each team member comes with their own experiences and ideologies. The culture reflects the realities of people working together every day. We cannot simply “implement” culture or change; instead, we need to nurture, care, and cultivate it with those who are living it.
  • Walk and Talk it – Only 56% of Canadians agree their leaders consistently act as role models for their organization’s purpose, values, and culture. Employees want to see their companies’ leaders follow through on their commitments to their people. Now more than ever, senior leaders need to have both a clear and compelling vision and be consistent in what they say and do.

Once the needs of your unique team have been fully recognized, present them back and work together to realize them. It may surprise you to find that the main ‘wants’ in a workplace are trust, respect, and the opportunity for employees to participate in shared values, which leads to improved work enjoyment. Not only will you retain those who’ve actively invested, but job seekers cite company culture as an important part of choosing to apply to a company.

Think of it like an ecosystem that needs to be nurtured to thrive – not a “one and done” approach. As the world seems to be in a re-boot mode, it’s the perfect time to dig in and adapt the workplace culture that everyone has contributed to realizing. 

This culture re-boot will attract and retain top talent and boost the organization’s all-around potential and bottom line.

~Cherene Kambeitz – Marketing & Communications Director, Levvel Inc. Reach out to