Company culture is a common term, but what does it actually mean?

Though it’s one of those non-tangible concepts that can be difficult to put into words, company culture is generally recognized as an integral part of how employees view and value their employer and their workplaces — and that’s never been more true than in the current climate.

There’s no doubt we’re all facing challenges as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on our professional and personal lives. But I’ve also noticed how difficult it is to instil and reinforce a team and a company culture when I don’t see my colleagues face to face every day. Emails and text messages can be misconstrued, tones misunderstood and, with all the added pressures, it can be difficult to actually realize that a colleague may have too much on their plate.

Read: Employees favouring company culture, career progression over pay: survey

I believe the way leaders recognize and approach these challenges is directly related to company culture. Company-wide town halls, weekly team check-ins and regular one-on-ones — even though they’re virtual — have never been more important. Whether formal or casual, these types of touchpoints can have a significant impact on how employees are feeling right now, helping them feel supported in their roles and less isolated than the inevitable stress, anxiety and uncertainty accompanying our current working-from-home environments. And consequently, they’re also likely to feel closer to their employer and more closely aligned to the culture of the company.

Numerous surveys have boasted about the importance of company culture. Indeed, a 2018 survey by Robert Half Canada found 40 per cent of Canadian workers wouldn’t accept a job that was a perfect match if the corporate culture clashed and 90 per cent of employers said a candidate’s fit with organizational culture is equal to or more important than their skills and experience.

When I interviewed the human resources director and communications leader at Corteva Agriscience Canada, it was very clear how important culture is when an organization is essentially building itself up from scrap parts. In this issue’s Employer Strategy, the agriculture company shares its creation, from the merger of Dow Inc. and DuPont to its spin off into a standalone public company.

Read: How Corteva Agriscience Canada transformed its culture after a merger

All that intensive change is bound to be complicated and confusing for employees. And, as Corteva learned — and as I’m learning as well — it ultimately comes down to two-way feedback and communication.

In the midst of any massive change — and indeed, during the current pandemic — it’s so important for employees to feel connected to, and supported and protected by, their employer. This will lead to a sense of well-being and safety, but these feelings are also integral to infusing a sense of company culture into a workforce.

Jennifer Paterson is the editor of Benefits Canada.

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

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