• Never Grow Up

Redefining Organisational Culture in the Post-COVID World



The uncertainties facing business leaders call for taking a more human-centric approach to bounce back to normal. Though peoples’ priorities and organisation culture have undergone perspective shifts, it is time for all to reposition themselves and formulate a new roadmap for policies, performance, and their overall purpose to thrive in the new realities.


Do you think that it is only a matter of time before companies return to old ways of doing business? If yes, most organisations will find it increasingly difficult to get back to previous ways of work and routine and embracing a new reality where the workforce has reprioritized their order of things to balance life with work. Though a few of you might believe that going to earlier work modes will be most effective and transformative changes often unsettles people more than anticipated, yet it goes without saying that the pandemic has caused organisations to rethink work schedules and re engage workers in a whole new way if they wish to remain competitive. The old ways of traditional marketing, excess spends on business travels, mindless expenses on non-essential materials will no longer have a space in the shelf. Organisations now have new expectations to fulfill. They are expected to incorporate the lessons learned from the pandemic and establish their reputations for the coming years.


Are firms more human?

It is interesting how the Deloitte published 2018 Global Human Trends Report seems to be just the right literature for the times we are passing. The report underlines the importance of creating an organisational culture based on more human-centered relationships to provide greater stability to the world that is constantly changing. It is time that organisations rewire their existing relationships to bring a sense of balance to the concerns of the organisation and those of the broader ecosystem.


How many have taken time to reflect?

Before jumping on the recovery process with advisory counsels trying to speed up the bounce back, most companies have sidelined the importance of reflection. It involves creating a safe environment for leaders at every level to bring in their unique perspective on the right moves to make on the road to recovery. As recovery strategies will not be easy to implement, it will involve making time for reflection at regular intervals to execute and evaluate the new normal operations and processes. Such strategies also need to be built on well thought-out plans and not in a hurried fire-fighting manner.


Has employee wellbeing given due priority?

Though many companies till date have considered employee wellbeing as a tick box item, it is time that they change their organisation policies to give due stress on physical, psychological and financial concerns of employees. Leaders must factor in the diversity of individual workers’ expectations to help them transition to recovery. The commitment to wellbeing does not only mean well being within the premises of office. It also entails wellbeing at home as workers continue to care for their family. The Covid-19 pandemic has reinstated a sense of seeking a purpose in leading a meaningful life. Most professionals are now relooking at the choices that they made in their work and life. It is imperative for companies to communicate their revised policies in a timely manner and outline company missions to connect to business goals. Employees should feel that they are a part of their company’s mission and remain engaged with the redefined priorities and strategies.


Are managers aware of new responsibilities?

Though the mode of work is still in a state of flux with some returning to their sites while others contribute remotely from homes, the role of team and team leaders cannot be emphasized more. They have a new role of scheduling assignments as per the workers’ preference so that they can continue to address their ongoing challenges at home front. Managers are now poised to create a more agile workforce so that the pandemic-resilient team members can be deployed to new teams and new roles to drive effective business results. The dynamic is more than remote working or incorporating AI in management techniques. It’s about how leaders can upskill and reskill themselves to deliver new business models.


Companies need to build a talent strategy to develop employee’s cognitive and digital capabilities, their emotional and social skills and their risk-taking and adaptability threshold. The time is just right to double down on learning budgets and commit to reskilling. IBM executive chairman Ginni Rometty called for corporations to reskill and retrain workers to arm them for the new digital economy, long before the pandemic took us by shock. She implored companies to start reskilling or else be left holding the bag. Her clarion call to action now has become imperative.


Are gig workers more valuable now than before?

The pandemic has put gig workers at an advantage over others. They come with the latest skills and experience to deal with uncertainty better without a global crisis knocking them off. These traits are now more valued than ever before. However, these workers are often faced with irregular wages and work environments not conducive to happiness. In this vein, the Code on Social Security 2020, passed recently by the Parliament is a silver lining in the cloud for gig workers. The measures under this code will include insurance coverage, maternity benefits and old-age care, among others. Support to the gig workers, freelancers and independent consultants as a parallel workforce will provide higher value to businesses due to lower cost to company on training and benefits and enhanced skills needed for the hour.


The coronavirus and its economic and social fallout, is a time machine to the future. Changes that many of us predicted would happen over decades are instead taking place in the span of weeks. This is how Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation, summarized the Covid19 moment. As organisations continue to review digital technologies, use of AI and automation to make work safer, faster and more innovative, they also need to rethink composition, compensation and performance management of the evolving workforce. Most firms are yet to revise their police, reward program and workforce management policies aligned to the realities of recovery.


The HR function now has a redefined role to anticipate and orchestrate new priorities. From incorporating agile learning, new ways of working, changing performance expectations to redefining speed and wellbeing, one can say that HRs are now empowered to make bold decisions in the face of uncertainty. When workers look back at the crisis and its consequences, they should be glad at the people managers who took forward-looking strategies to navigate the future.