Values and Company Culture Post Pandemic

by Rici van Schalkwyk | April 13, 2021

Everything rises and falls on leadership……John C Maxwell

Never has it been truer than in the current post pandemic work environment. With lockdowns came remote working from home offices, limited numbers of staff in office or rotating work groups and a hybrid of these work locations. Adapting quickly, learning as you go and being flexible became the new normal for most organizations.

One of the most important aspects that many organizations are struggling to maintain or improve, is company culture. Company cultures are dwindling with no water cooler or face-to-face meetings for casual conversations between employees.

Leadership defines culture

Company culture refers to an internal way of doing things in your organization. It is the behaviors and attitudes of a company and its employees. It is the way employees interact with each other, the values they uphold and the decisions they make.

Company culture is thus a combination of vision, values, norms, beliefs, systems, habits, assumptions, and language. Your organization’s culture is like a genetic code. It is pre-existing in your organization. If the employees are not bringing it with them, who defines it then?


The culture of the organization is defined by the actions, decisions and vision of the leaders. Leaders shape the identity of the company.

Company culture post pandemic

Culture is created and formed from the inside out. The culture represents the core values of the company internally to employees and externally to customers. Internal culture is therefor crucial for external perception. Exposure online and in social media from a disgruntled employee is only a few clicks away.

With the limited casual conversations and interactions between employees, how are you as leader engaging and relating with employees to sustain and improve company culture?

Regardless of a remote or office-based work force, as a leader you impact the culture of your organization through:

1. Value-based Leadership

Values should be the backbone that guides decision-making and all interactions. In times of change leaders must lean on the values of the organization to drive performance and innovation.

Value-based leadership means leading and evaluating performance based on the company values more so than specific measures and milestones. Value-based evaluations can no longer be an afterthought. The cost in time and energy is too high.

Values are the measurement and guidance for decision-making, actions, communications, and recruitment. Leaders at all levels can constantly communicate company values. At every possible opportunity. Regardless of the location.

Value-based leadership requires leaders to walk the talk consistently.

Be authentic in your interactions. Never compromise your integrity.

2. Shared Vision

In the ever-changing working environment, leaders need to define and communicate a shared vision. A vision of the future that is value-based and describes the purpose of the organization. Employees must buy into the vision.

To create employee buy in, there must be an understanding of the vision and the role of every employee in achieving that vision. By outlining detailed steps, the leader can clarify the vision and show what success will look like.

Leaders must communicate the shared vision regularly. Keep it simple and realistic.

3. Flexibility

The challenges brought by the pandemic forced flexibility. Everyone is dealing with the changes and the strain in their own way.

Working remotely without the work provided infrastructure, juggling families and schedules, and adjusting to small working spaces shared with family are some of the challenges. The virtual environment makes it hard to keep company culture and morale high.

Leaders need to focus on building individual connections. One-on-one interactions will create an understanding of the employee’s situation. Management styles will therefore also need to be flexible to adapt to the various home challenges.

Flexibility also means to understand what is working and what not. Ask employees for feedback.

4. Accountability

Accountability is essential to any company culture. Leaders hold people accountable to complete their work. Regardless of whether working remotely or office-based, employees remain responsible to complete their work.

Increased flexibility without accountability will undermine the values and culture.

Clearly defined standards and expectations that are communicated to employees is the start of accountability. Allow employees to take ownership of their time and outcomes if standards and expectations are met.

Leaders must be transparent in communicating what success looks like and what the measurable steps are to achieve success.

5. Encourage Recognition

Employees want to know that their contributions are valued. They want to know that what they are doing matters.

Leaders build a culture of recognition and appreciation if positive contributions are acknowledged. Celebrate successes, big and small. Acknowledge hard work and effort when it is delivered.

Define success and growth for everyone. Focus on what outcomes are expected, rather than time spent. Reward efficiency and excellence.

Positive praise from a leader makes employees feel valued and confident.

6. Nurture Continuous Learning

People are arguably the most valuable resource in organizations. To unlock the potential of this resource a culture of continuous growth and learning must be created.

Leaders with a genuine interest in developing this culture will freely share their knowledge and facilitate opportunities for growth.

Employees are more inclined to collaborate and learn from others if they feel that the organization supports their growth and learning.

7. Communication and Trust

Every work environment, office-based or remote, requires communication and trust. Post pandemic leaders need to deal with weaknesses exposed in their organizations. Among these are company communication and trust.

During the pandemic leaders had to focus on more frequent, but shorter one-on-one meetings, because not being in office meant that questions could not be asked, and ideas bounced off someone between meetings.
Shorter one-on-one meetings have the added benefit of being fully present and giving undivided attention for that period.

Schedule virtual coffee meetings to connect, touch base and have some fun. This allows for the casual interactions that make employees realize that everyone is experiencing challenges in their own way.
The pandemic emphasized the importance of trust in organizations. Leaders that placed value in building trust as part of the company culture, reaped the rewards.

Employees that feel trusted and valued, will contribute positively to the success and growth of the business. This starts with the core values of the business and leaders reflecting those values every day.

Leaders, we need to be the change we want to see. Employees follow what we show, not what we say.
Managing is not leading. Managing checklists, spreadsheets, budgets and other things can be done from behind a desk.

People need to be led. Leaders know when to connect and engage with their people. That means stepping into the trenches, working side by side, supporting and training future leaders.

Your people need you to rise up and lead them.


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