Retail Observer

December 2021

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM DECEMBER 2021 44 Steven Morris On Brand Y ou might expect that COVID would have been a disaster for corporate cultures everywhere. Just think of how the almost universal shift to a remote or hybrid work model has seemingly obliterated the face-to-face interactions that make great cultures possible. Are company cultures really falling apart? There's ample data to support the idea that "Big Quit" and "Great Resignation" aren't just media hype. In August 2021 alone, 4.3 million people in the US quit their jobs – that's nearly 3 percent of the US workforce! But, as always, every challenge has an uncanny way of opening up opportunities. There's mounting evidence that if you can create a culture that will be strategically aligned with your goals and harmoniously bonded, that's a really good thing – but still, it won't help you as much over the long haul as if you can develop a culture that is also highly able to adapt to new realities whatever they might be. REAL-TIME RESPONSIVENESS CREATES ADAPTABILITY A UC Berkeley study showed that companies that were strategically aligned, connected, and that had a built-in capacity to adapt rapidly to shifting environments earned 15% more in annual revenues compared to those in the same industry that were frozen in their ways and hence less adaptable. Cultural adaptability is the measure of how well your organization can adapt and survive – it's your ability to quickly respond and innovate and seize the advantages that new opportunities open. This is particularly important now and for the foreseeable future. No two cultures are alike. And, of course, that's a very good thing, but it does make for trickier HR policies. I'm seeing how leadership and HR teams are increasingly opening their creative brains in response to Covid, and looking beyond one-size-fits-all cultures, without playing favorites. With these new realities in mind, I'll share a couple of examples of what organizations are doing to adapt to today's (Covid) cultural demands. • Example 1: A Team Member Plan — A company I work with created a multi-point needs analysis of their team members, as a first step toward reshaping their hybrid work culture. Based on job responsibility, longevity with the company, parents with children (including number of children and their age), the daycare or school needs of the children, their location relative to the main office (commute), etc., we shaped a team member plan to ensure that the employees' needs would continue to be well-aligned with the needs of the company. We then developed a scoring system and an associated support plan to help each employee enjoy optimal collaboration, happiness, job satisfaction and productivity. The scoring and support systems optimized the dimensions of time (time of day, day of week) and place (home, at work, etc.) in ways that would help the employees flourish in their roles, responsibilities, and personal (and team) needs. • Example 2: Culture CARES Persona Response — At another company, we created a Culture CARES Team (Concern, Analyze, Respond, Evolve, Serve) taskforce that did an end run around the "usual suspects" from HR and the C-Suite to create a cross-functional support and response plan. Working with a wide group of team reps, we created a set of personas that distilled employee hybrid work-need-sets and organized them into eight unique persona groups. Led by the Culture CARES Team, we solicited input from all of the company's employees in order to assess their wants and needs across personal and job-role dimensions. Based on company-wide feedback, we created a hybrid work plan to support individuals in each persona group. The team member plan and the persona approach both included time plans (time of day, day of week), place plans (at work, home, hybrid), productivity plans (communication paths, tech support, reporting, etc.), subsidies for childcare, increased compensation, and feedback loops to assess the plans' effectiveness and productivity effects. A WORD TO THE WISE I'm seeing how companies are increasingly coming up with innovative ways to expand their cultures. But because every culture is (still) unique, one size will never fit all. That's why leaders need to be relentless in shaping their cultures to help their people stay focused on the important work. Adaptability is critical. MY ADVICE Get curious and creative about the best ways to set up your team to adapt and flourish. The biggest mistake you can make is to pretend that the problems (and the opportunities) don't exist. Do nothing, and you'll lose your best employees to companies with better cultures. When is the best time to build a great culture? Ten years ago! What's the second-best time? Now! RETHINKING CULTURE Steven Morris is a brand, culture and leadership advisor, author, and speaker. Over his 25+ years in business he's worked with 3,000+ business leaders at 250+ global and regional companies. Discover: RO

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