Company Culture in Times of Uncertainty

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01
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Part
01

Company Culture in Times of Crisis: Employee Motivators

Some best practices for motivating employees during a crisis include an open and honest communication, a confident leadership, and rewarding or praising employees.

Open and Honest Communication

  • It is important that management is proactive and maintains open and clear communication with employees during a crisis.
  • Employees are becoming an important voice during crisis as people tend to trust them more than official communication. Hence, they need to understand and have confidence in the management actions and decisions in other to be motivated and confident to use their voice to help the company during a crisis.
  • Starbucks was able to deal with a race-based campaign that backfired by proactively sending an internal memo to all its employees to thank them for the week-long initiative, addressing concerns, as well as detailing the efforts they are putting to address diversity and inequality.
  • The above gave Starbucks employees the information and confidence needed to address the issue in their community. Keeping employees in the loop right from the beginning of the crisis enabled Starbucks to withstand the crisis. In fact, the company's stocks hit an all-time high within a month.
  • It is also important that communication is open both ways. Employees should be able to communicate their concerns to management and have their concerns addressed. It is important that management is not evasive and does not promise what they can't fulfill. Open, honest, and frequent communication is vital.
  • Trust is vital in motivating employees during a crisis and open and honest communication with employees builds trust. It is vital for the employees to know that the management has their back and will do what they have promised to do.

Why it is a Best Practice

Confident Leadership

  • During a time of crisis, employees are afraid and naturally turn to leaders who are confident and who can provide solutions. Employees are motivated to work for a leader who helps them overcome their fear and provide solutions.
  • It is important for leaders to deal with personal stress privately while empathizing with their employees. It is easy for leadership to become overbearing and take out their stress on their employees during a crisis. Leaders should accept that performance and productivity are likely to drop during a crisis and adjust accordingly.
  • Employees have various concerns during a crisis, such as fear, about their job, family, and safety. It is important that the leadership is able to assuage their fear where possible and empathize with them. According to experts, "managers should attempt to compartmentalize their own personal fears and feelings."

Why it is a Best Practice

Praise/Reward Employees and Move Negative Employees

  • It is important to praise employees and/or offer rewards where possible during a crisis. This may be as simple as emailing an appreciative note or organizing a recognition event in honor of top performers during difficult moments.
  • A survey asked employees how they prefer their organization express appreciation to them for staying loyal during a crisis and the top three preferences were "training for new duties and responsibilities (33%), a promotion or new title (33%), and verbal recognition for their performance (32%)."
  • As important as it is to reward and praise employees, it may also be necessary to remove negative employees or those that can't be motivated during crisis despite the best effort of management. This is important because such negativity may infect other employees and reduce the morale of a unit. Managers may offer to move them to a different unit or company if the issue cannot be resolved rather than spend too much time and energy trying to motivate such an employee.

Why it is a Best Practice

Research Strategy

To select best practices, our research team looked at over a dozen reports on various best practices and selected identified best practices that appeared in at least 3 different industry reports.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Company Culture in Times of Crisis: Best Practices

Best practices for maintaining and/or fostering a healthy company culture during a time of crisis include robust planning, effective communication, and rewarding/praising employees that act in line with the company's culture during the crisis.

Robust Planning

  • Maintaining and fostering a healthy company culture during a crisis is intrinsically linked to how well a company has prepared to face a crisis. If employees are confident about the company's crisis management strategy and are highly involved in it, they are better able to respond in a way that is concurrent with the company's culture.
  • It is important that companies in the hospitality industry develop a robust crisis management plan, especially with regard to crisis they are likely to experience or that is common in their area. For instance, a hospitality company in an area prone to security unrest should have a plan for that while one in a place prone to flood should have a plan for it.
  • The plan should also take into account guests that are likely to be most at risk (aged, disabled, guests unfamiliar with the local language, etc) and design the plan with such guests in mind.
  • Experts in crisis management in the hospitality industry recommend designing plans that take into account the best protective action in each crisis situation to ensure the safety of employees and guests.
  • It is important that there are drills imitating real-life scenarios and in order to ingrain in each employee their roles and how they are expected to react when faced with a crisis. Experts state that “staff should be familiar with detection, alarm, communications, warning, and protection systems, have assigned roles, and be adept at performing their responsibilities, which should be practiced during drills.”
  • Drills are vital because they can easily expose holes in previously formed plans and make plans more robust. Drills should also involve extensive what-if analysis to ensure the designed plan is robust and practical under high-stress conditions.
  • Good planning also involves proactively developing relationships with neighbors and agencies in the community such as police and disaster management agencies.

Why it is a Best Practice

Effective Communication

  • Effective and open communication is essential in maintaining and fostering a healthy company culture during a crisis.
  • According to industry experts, two key challenges during an urgent crisis in the hospitality industry are immediate communication and centralized communications. Hence, it is essential that a hospitality company has these systems and drills in place when planning for a crisis.
  • Experts in crisis management with over 40 years in the hospitality industry state that communication is equally important as planning because the success of a plan depends on its implementation and that means being able to effectively communicate with guests, employees, the media and other stakeholders.
  • It is important that there is a designated media spokesperson with a backup and that the organization is honest and forthright with the media rather than try to control the story. If the media feels that the organization is honest, the less likely they will go digging around and asking unauthorized persons which may make matters worse.
  • Experts state that it is important to have open communication with guests and employees and that it should take precedent over the care of the property.
  • When there is an advance notice of the crisis, guests should be informed proactively. When the crisis is sudden, it is also important that guests are briefed on the status of the property.

Why it is a Best Practice

Praise/Reward Employees and Move Negative Employees

  • A key way of maintaining a company's culture during a crisis is ensuring that employees' morale is high during the time of the crisis.
  • It is important to praise employees and/or offer rewards where possible during a crisis. This may be as simple as emailing an appreciative note or organizing a recognition event in honor of top performers during difficult moments.
  • A survey asked employees how they prefer their organization express appreciation to them for staying loyal during a crisis and the top three preferences were "training for new duties and responsibilities (33%), a promotion or new title (33%), and verbal recognition for their performance (32%)." Employees that have experienced crisis with the company before and experienced how the company rewarded behavior and loyalty in line with its culture are more motivated to exhibit such behavior whenever there is a crisis.
  • As important it is to reward and praise employees, it may also be necessary to remove negative employees or those that can't be motivated during crisis despite the best effort of management. This is important because such negativity may infect other employees and reduce the morale of a unit. Managers may offer to move them to a different unit or company if the issue cannot be resolved rather than spend too much time and energy trying to motivate such an employee.

Why it is a Best Practice

Research Strategy

To select best practices, our research team looked at over a dozen reports on various best practices and selected identified best practices that appeared in at least 3 different industry reports.
Sources
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