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Top Three Company Culture Challenges in 2023 and How To Overcome Them

Top Three Company Culture Challenges in 2023 and How To Overcome Them

UPDATEDJun 27, 2023

The latest episode of Kantata’s Professional Services Pursuit Podcast focuses on some of the unique challenges associated with building a strong company culture in today’s market, with recommendations for how businesses can transcend those challenges.

Banoo Behboodi hosts the episode, with guest Christine Dunham, Kantata’s Senior Director of People Development and Culture. They discuss the top three challenges that stand in the way of building a strong company culture in 2023 and beyond — as well as five best practices to overcome them. The blog below only presents two of the five best practices, so make sure to listen to the entire podcast episode if you’d like to learn the rest!

How Can Remote Work Negatively Impact Company Culture?

Banoo shares that while the onset of hybrid and remote work paradigms has been a blessing for many – “Having the flexibility to be in my pajamas, have the cat go across the desk, all of that is great!” – the shift is not free from challenges. Far from it. She asks Christine, based on her experience directing Kantata’s people development and culture efforts through a merger during the pandemic, what some of the critical elements are that businesses risk losing in the remote work environment, and what impacts those losses can have on the imperative to “ensure that all employees are staying engaged, they are aligned with the value culture of the company, and basically driving the company forward.”

Three Ways Remote Work Complicates Healthy Company Culture

1. Lack of informal communication

Christine reminisces, “Think about when we were in-person and in the office, we had those informal check-ins and conversations while getting coffee, while you have a meeting in a conference room and it ends and you linger. In these casual interactions, amazing things can happen, right? There’s problem-solving, there’s brainstorming, there’s these amazing face-to-face, real-life check-ins where you’re getting feedback based on how things are going.” Businesses have struggled to recreate this watercooler environment where people forged connections and removed blockers to success.

2. Lack of in-person interaction

Christine also shares that fewer opportunities to interact in person can have a major impact. “Being someone who studied communication and the behaviors of human beings, in-person communication just accelerates connection and trust. And so you meet people through a screen, but it’s so different when you meet someone in person. In-person interactions accelerate trust, the getting-to-know-you phase is more of an emotional connection. And that’s really foundational for how we work and collaborate.”

3. Lack of Collective Culture

A lot of Christine’s efforts in her role are focused around overcoming the third challenge, which is building a collective culture in a virtual world. “Collective culture is really these rituals and these routines and these interactions that are across the organization. In a remote environment, we meet a great deal with our teams or our clients or the departments that we need to work with on a regular basis, but we get less interaction exposure to everyone across the company. Having cohesion and shared common language and shared culture, it’s something you have to work harder at in this environment.”

Two Best Practices To Strengthen Company Culture

Christine provides many best practices businesses can adopt to help build and maintain a strong company culture with engaged employees in today’s environment. Here are two examples:

1. Clearly & Regularly Communicate Company Vision

It is more important than ever to have a clear – and clearly communicated – vision that is shared across the organization. For Christine, this means everyone understands what the organization’s “north star” is. “We have all of our little mini-offices, and just to be able to think about each and every day, what is our north star, as an organization, what’s our purpose and our promise, this is so fundamental to the success of any organization.” Employees should be able to answer the following the questions for a strong company culture to exist:

– What are we working toward as an organization?
– How do I fit into that as an individual contributor?

Christine recognizes the importance of employees knowing they are impacting overall success. She shares, “It’s so motivating when you understand the work that you’re doing day in and day out, that it’s really contributing to the success of why your organization exists, and really what your vision and your purpose is.”

Simply having a vision isn’t enough — Christine says it’s all about ensuring the vision is being communicated clearly, consistently, and effectively. She says, “It’s about repeatedly communicating the vision on a regular basis by saying: here’s why we exist, here’s our purpose, our promise, and our vision is. Here’s what’s most important to do this quarter, this year, and really give everybody that north star. I think that’s absolutely critical.”

2. Approach Value Creation as More Than a Corporate Exercise

Christine suggests taking a humanistic approach when determining company values. She is passionate that creating values should be treated as more than just an exercise. She says, “Don’t just put corporate jargon/gobbly words together to say things that you think people want to hear. Really think about what you want your guiding principles to be, how you want your people to show up day in and day out.”

Christine uses an example from her current work at Kantata to show that organizations can actually achieve genuine values that can mean something to not only executives, but the entire organization. “A lot of our team members say they have their values posted in their office just because it helps guide them in the actions they take, and the decisions that they make. Maybe they’re at a crossroads and they’re trying to decide something, and having those values just right there in front of you, I think what that does is it gives us all this sort of common language, common behavior that really represents who Kantata is and what we want to be known for.”

For Kantata, this has materialized in a culture of acknowledgement and celebration of values-forward behavior. “We have something called Flair Awards that have been designed to acknowledge and celebrate values-based behavior. This enables anyone across the organization to recognize a colleague and say ‘I saw something great today when it comes to values-based behavior and I’m gonna nominate that person for a Flair Award and share what they did in accordance with our values.’ And then we share that across the organization and it sends the message that these things are important, we really value the behaviors that our employees live by.”

Ultimately a vision shouldn’t only come from C-level executives, it should include input from everyone adding value to the company. “What we’ve done as an organization to really make these values come to life is we share them, we repeat them, and we have many places that you can access them.”

Learn More

Want to learn three more best practices Christine recommends businesses adopt to establish and maintain a strong company culture? Listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript here. Subscribe to The Professional Services Pursuit Podcast to stay up to date on the latest expert advice, trends, and best practices surrounding the professional services industry.

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