The Culture Conundrum: Your organisation’s friend or foe?

May 2nd, 2023
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One of the most significant challenges organisations have had to grapple with over the last decade has been planning for the future world of work. Now that it is here, the even bigger question is: what does it mean for organisations trying to stay relevant, prioritise wellness, drive efficiencies and productivity whilst creating an environment and culture that enables and sustains all of these?

The greatest impact of Covid-19 has been this ‘new normal’ that wasn’t easy to adapt to, as it moved us from relying on in-person, in-office ways of keeping culture alive, to a place of diminished traditional control and authority over the culture dynamics, that were already so challenging to manage due to their intangibility.

The concerns raised about the hybrid/flexible world of work weakening organisational culture and the knock-on effects of burnout, lack of trust and uncertainty (Carpenter, Davidson and Hannegan, 2021), have created more of an opportunity and less of a conundrum, in our view. It all comes down to whether one sees the glass as half full or empty – either way, there is space for more, different, and new.

With the growing need to reinvent the use of traditional office spaces, re-energise employee engagement levels and practices, adopt agile ways of collaborating and innovating, and even finding alternative ways to manage employee performance, the fact that the whole world has not crashed and burned teaches us a very important lesson – culture is like the wind and water, it will change direction, shape and speed, and the only way to stay on course is to go with the flow.

So, what does this mean? Keep putting people first, even if that looks and feels a little different, because regardless of what happens in the world, culture comes to life when there are people, irrespective of how those shared assumptions, beliefs, values and expectations have changed.

Because the social order has changed, there is no better time for organisations to recontract with their employees on what they believe are fundamentals, and be brave enough to leave behind the thoughts, practices and principles that may have once defined what organisations stand for, but no longer make sense for tomorrow, because we are already here today.

It’s about transcending time and space to deliver a seamless and positive experience that inspires innovation, dedication, and enthusiasm, anywhere and all the time.

To discover more on how you can shift from the culture conundrum to your future proposition, contact the IQbusiness People Advisory Team.

Your go-to for all things People.

Author: Rachel Steyn, Organisational Development Consultant and Zandile Mathe, Head: People Advisory

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