Organizational Culture & Values

Everything you need to know about company culture in the new reality [video]

In the new normal of business today, our company cultures are under enormous pressure, and business leaders are trying to decide how to respond. Let’s discuss a few things that leaders need to know about company culture in the new reality so that you can think about your company’s corporate culture differently and come away with ideas you can implement in your organization.

What is company culture?

The word culture comes from the Latin root “colere” which means to cultivate. Company culture is something you are, it’s not something that you do. Many people think that culture in their organization means to come up with some core values, pop them up on the wall, and say, “This is our culture.” 

But, organizational culture is a lot of different things. It is the things that you do within an organization. Your company culture is the container of your organization and people are looking for where they belong. They’re looking for signals of what belonging here is versus what is not belonging there. Where are you going to lean in? Where are you going to lean out? All of these things combined define company culture.

Company culture is part of the overall employee experience. Attracting and recruiting people into the organization, onboarding them to be successful employees, and then developing their talent and retaining them as great ambassadors to the organization. As leaders it’s important to connect your employees in the moments that matter. That’s what strengthens and builds culture.

The importance of company culture

We know from research that healthy cultures save companies time and money. When you have a healthy culture, where people feel included, they’re likely to recommend the organization as a great place to work.

What happens then is you start this virtuous circle of the employee experience, where now your own employees are so engaged that they’re inviting other people who are top candidates into the organization. 

You reduce turnover and the expenses related to that, you train your employees as good brand ambassadors, and then you begin attracting those great candidates into the organization.

If you’ve got a healthy and inclusive culture, a lot of that work is done for you and you avoid some of the mistakes that companies can make.

The impact of a good culture, according to the Gallup Organization, is that it can increase your bottom line by 19.2%, and the impact of bad culture on your bottom line is a -32.7%.

That’s a 50% differential, so culture is not only important because most CEOs want to create a great place to work but it also affects the bottom line.

How to create culture for a remote workforce

How do we retrofit our culture for a remote workforce? Almost overnight due to the pandemic, work moved from the office to people’s homes. Suddenly culture isn’t how things were done around the office, because the office is now dispersed into people’s homes. 

What the pandemic did was accelerate the trend that’s now known as the remote workforce revolution.

The new normal is really an opportunity for leaders to create a culture that includes working from home as well as being there.

So, what can CEOs and leaders do to retrofit this culture to the remote workforce? What can they do to adapt to this new reality?

Take an honest look at what worked and what didn’t

Have a conversation with employees about what they liked about working from home and what they didn’t like. 

In a World Economic Forum study, they found that employees report that they’re 40% more productive working from home. Now that is a very big statistic, and it’s something that leaders can use to inform their policies and procedures.

There’s been this steady drumbeat of momentum in the remote workforce in a hybrid model where people are going in say two days a week to the office, but now’s the time to really see how you can incorporate the benefits of a work from home model into your organization. 

That will then inform the culture when leaders are listening to what employees want and taking action that makes sense for the organization and for the people who make it successful. That’s a really important piece of the culture. 

Collaborate, interact and celebrate 

Communication is equally important as a business function. And once companies do that and get that correct, it’s easy to make the transition and enrich the culture because you’ve got a way to connect with employees wherever they are. So around that communication landscape, there are many  ways for supervisors and employees to engage.

How to address diversity and inclusion in the workplace

What can leaders do to connect authentically in dealing with systemic racism in organizations? 

Unconscious bias is not someone else’s problem to solve. It’s our problem to solve. As business leaders we are uniquely positioned to do what we can to solve it. Having access to that kind of training through a Vistage group is a wonderful way to begin self reflection and grow awareness.

Here are strategies for becoming more aware of bias in the workplace.

Resources on diversity and inclusion

Here are some useful resources to take a look at that address systemic racism.

The book, Between the World and me. The book, How to Be an Antiracist. The book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. The book Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do.

Create employee resource groups

As an organization you can work to create employee resource groups or employee business resource groups. 

Affinity groups have been around for a while and were part of the first wave of diversity and inclusion efforts in corporate America. They are super useful for creating a group of ambassador employees who are willing to have difficult conversations with their colleagues and with leadership. Affinity groups is a great model for companies starting their diversity and inclusion journey. 

Welcome uncomfortable conversations

We need to have conversations about diversity in the workplace right now. It may be uncomfortable but strive to be open and have those conversations.

Bringing up the topic and being open for feedback and input and really creating a safe container for people to speak up and not be judged. Help create a brave space. Create a space that’s safe so that people can have the courage to speak up.

Listen and practice self-reflection

Many people don’t want to make a mistake or sound tone deaf. There’s just so many obstacles to having the conversation about race, especially race in the workplace. 

One of the things that leaders should do is to listen. As leaders, we often want to solve a problem and get to an outcome. And this is a time where we can take moments for self reflection at a bit of a slower pace.

Listen in neutral. Don’t try to relate, don’t say, “Oh, that reminds me of a time.” Don’t say, “I know how you feel because…” 

Be curious and just absorb what’s being said. It takes tremendous courage for people to speak up and say how they really feel. And if we as leaders can create a culture where people feel safe to do that, where they feel respected and included, that’s our job.


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Avatar About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 2…

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