Responsible People Management – Translating Organisational Values and Culture into New Work Models
The Covid-19 pandemic brought about an unprecedented change in work structure in many organisations. A shift to remote work which had already been projected for the 2020s immediately became reality and a common workplace term. Experts assert new and dynamic work models constitute the future of work. However, the new models, especially full or blended work-from-home, have brought novel workplace challenges to the fore. Prominent among these are the gaps in translation of the organisation’s values and its culture, and in effect employee engagement. It is true that, long before the pandemic, these have been concerns for organisations, and particularly for people responsible for their human resource management. However, the shift to remote work further exacerbated the problem due to the sudden difficulties in engaging people using the traditional and more familiar means. The June 2020 Gallup report on employee engagement found that 54% were disengaged and 14% were actively disengaged!
The strength of any organisation is dependent on its employees and remote work comes with its pros and cons. Some of the more obvious positives are greater flexibility, improved work-life balance for some, the ability to work from any location, as well as reduction of operational costs for the organisation. The cons are however quite significant when it comes to maintaining organisational culture; there appear to be drops in alignment to company’s vision and ethics (it does not happen organically); team camaraderie; trust; ownership and belongingness (Parikh, 2021) .
The question is, does remote work harm staff engagement and therefore organisational values and culture? In the traditional workspace, staff onboarding and assimilation into the organisation’s system and culture were easily done as the average staff quickly learnt the culture from observing others and leaders within the organisation. Industry experts opine that mandating physical presence in the office is the easiest way to assimilate employees into a company’s culture. They note that new workers come to understand what is expected of them by looking at how those around them behave, not by reading a company’s values statement. However, when leaders can no longer assume that their behaviour will be observed and mirrored, efforts to define culture needs to be far more deliberate. As such, transparent decision-making and clear norm-setting will become exponentially more important (Taylor, 2020).
As organisations shift to remote or hybrid work, it is important that they understand the effect it could have on their staff and consequently, their business. This prepares them to take necessary actions to mitigate any negative outcomes. To this end, the Christopher Kolade Centre for Research in Leadership and ethics will be hosting a discussion with top Human Resource and People Management Personnel’s to give their take and practical knowledge on the nexus between staff engagement, organisational culture and remote work.
Share your thoughts on the following. Please introduce yourself and tell us what your experience is in managing human resources(if you have any), as well as what type and size of organisations you have worked with. Where are the biggest struggles with translation of values and culture into the new work models such as WFH? How can they be overcome? How can leaders build trust in a remote team setting? How do they build and maintain team values and culture given the new models? Which relevant innovations to WFH policy are coming up? How should they be driven? Does remote work have benefits over traditional work? How can these be leveraged to optimize communication with employees and engagement? Please share your personal experience and reflections on the issues related to this topic. Would there be differences in the experiences, challenges and solutions for colleagues in other industries? What would be your final general recommendations for the future of work a) globally and b) locally?
To watch the recording of the event, please visit the event page