Preserving an Ethical Culture and Creating Company Unity in Times of Uncertainty

May 13, 2020
LRN Corporation

The COVID-19 outbreak is putting many company cultures to the test. Not only is it radically changing how employees interact with each other and perform, it’s challenging the very workplace beliefs and behaviors that compliance and learning teams have painstakingly put into practice.

With all this taking place, organizations may begin to question the sustainability of company culture if the work-from-home mandate continues. We at Interactive Services think differently, knowing there are countless ways to make a positive impact as everyone navigates this new reality together.

Drawing on our experience in helping organizations build strong and unified company cultures through ethics and compliance training, we offer a few tips on how to keep your culture rock-steady, and create the kind of unity that fosters employee happiness, loyalty, and good decision-making.

Maintain Work Routines and Rituals

Office routines and rituals are how a company’s culture comes to life. But when these routines change overnight – like they did in response to COVID-19 – it can threaten the in-office practices and habits that make up a culture’s foundation.

While every department has its own set of routines that drive productivity and collaboration, communicating the importance of maintaining these routines at home is critical to keeping a culture intact.

In addition to training employees working from home effectively, compliance and training teams must also instill the value of creating a work schedule that helps them stay on target, establishes the right work-life balance, and upholds the daily structure that helps employees and the business reach their true potential.

Communicate More Frequently and Openly

In a recent study by Glassdoor, 22 percent of employees voiced a concern with going “stir crazy” while working from home due to a lack of interaction. Much of this could be attributed to the isolation and disconnection employees are experiencing as they push forward into new work territory.

Now more than ever, it’s important for leadership to communicate more often and effectively. While sending out weekly or monthly emails and following through on scheduled check-ins or town hall meetings may have been enough to support workplace culture in the past, interacting with employees more regularly – and effectively – during the crisis can boost morale and help people feel more connected.

Beyond providing information on how the company is reacting to COVID-19 with new processes and controls, take time to share and celebrate employee anniversaries, birthdays, and accomplishments through company communication channels.

Most importantly, use this frequent communication as an opportunity to be more transparent with employees about the mental and emotional challenges everyone may be experiencing. Doing so can inspire everyone to be more proactive in seeking help through corporate wellness programs and in engaging leadership if or when problems arise.

Trust and Empower Employees

The challenges of creating an at-home workforce have stretched leadership and businesses in new and unforeseen ways. Over the course of a few days, organizations not only had to figure out how to help employees work from home effectively, but also solve big issues surrounding cybersecurity, technology, and communication.

Adapting to this “new normal” has put many companies on their heels and raised questions about tracking employee performance, the impact of adopting productivity tools on the culture, and the efforts involved in overseeing employee workload. But “tightening up the reins” in response to the change may not be the best option.

Trusting employees to do their jobs, and do them right, can be tough for businesses that have never experienced an at-home workforce. But if productivity tools and oversight weren’t part of your culture before the crisis, they may only add to the stress as employees navigate their new work environment.

The more companies trust employees to work from home, and give them the tools to accomplish their jobs, the better off the business – and its culture – will be. As any compliance or learning expert can tell you, employee stress and distrust are bona fide culture killers.

Make Training More Enjoyable

Compliance and learning teams know the value of maintaining ethics and compliance training initiatives. But in times of crisis, like the one we’re now experiencing, these programs become even more critical. In addition to helping a business prevent fraud, discrimination, and waste of energy and resources, compliance training works to hold strategic pieces of an organization together – with one of the most important of these being its culture.

While it can be said that maintaining ethics and compliance training programs in times like these is challenging, it also creates an opportunity for learning teams to adjust training in unique ways to make it more fun and relatable. With employees at home, and companies looking for better approaches to boost morale, it only makes sense to implement engaging and enjoyable corporate training programs.

Anything compliance and learning teams can do to make training fun while integrating with company culture, goals, and employee expectations is shown to have a positive effect on performance and learning retention.

Interactive Services is a leader in helping organizations create and strengthen ethical cultures through our award-winning ethics and compliance training solutions, which includes our newly launched “Working From Home Training” module. Discover how we can help your business by signing up for our free 7-day trial!

About the Author

LRN Corporation

Ethics and compliance leader providing tools, education, and advisory services for global companies to inspire principled performance. LRN’s overall approach recognizes the inherent limitations of rules and regulations in influencing behaviors. In our view, focusing on actions that help build and maintain a values-based culture will mean more compliance and reduced costs as a result of tangible and sustainable behavioral change.

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