How can employers build culture during COVID-19?

'Instead of seeing benefits as something transactional, it became experiential'

How can employers build culture during COVID-19?

COVID-19 has been a great “uncoverer” - if organisations had any issues in their culture, this situation has likely brought those to the surface or amplified them, according to Simon Birch, Manager, Total Rewards Australia & New Zealand at Accenture.

In a sense that's been a blessing because companies are almost forced to find ways to address things that are going to be good for employees long-term, added Birch.

For example, prioritising employee wellbeing - especially emotional or mental first aid - is becoming mainstream.

“More recently, I'm seeing more organisations move from ‘survival mode’ and focussing on social connectedness,” said Birch.

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“At Accenture, it’s about ensuring we maintain morale with our teams, especially smaller, remote ones, and how we build on and strengthen that too, especially when so many people are working virtually.”

Birch is speaking at Reward Gateway’s Engagement Excellence Live - a free online event.

He added that it’s really important to build and strengthen culture, no matter where employees are working around the world.

“I'm looking forward to learning how other organisations have approached this, and sharing some of the things we are learning as we move forward too.”

Another speaker at Reward Gateway’s event is Joel Rethore, Group Head of Rewards, Performance & People Analytics, Healius,

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He added that there have been different waves of learning over the past four months. It’s a story of crisis, and crisis often accelerates change.

“The question for us is how we deal with that change and how we come out of the other side with a better understanding of our people, of what we can improve operationally, and of what is really at stake in that connectedness between the employer and employee,” said Rethore.  

“I’ve experienced the last few months wearing three hats: that of an employee, that of a HR leader, and that of the person in charge of remuneration and benefits. I learned early on that when the sense of fear and risk is high and people lack certainty on the operational side, they really look for security on the cultural side.”

Rethore is particularly looking forward to discussing how this entire situation has forced the company to rethink the presence they have with our employees. The interlacing and interdependence of what’s on offer at work, and what is impacting their life at home, is “completely overlaid”.

“We have looked at ways to send our people the message that even though there are some things out of our control, we can and will support our people in the areas within our control,” said Rethore.

“As an example, we quickly changed our approach so that instead of promoting benefits purely as a way to save money, we approached it by encouraging our people to look for ways to enjoy the situation, even while at home.

“Instead of seeing benefits as something transactional, it became experiential.”

Reward Gateway’s Engagement Excellence Live is a free online event that takes place on 23 July.

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