Employee Culture Weathering the Storm
Weather any storm...together!
18 months on and the Covid-19 pandemic is still impacting businesses of every size. Until our vaccination rate reaches 80% and sets us on the roadmap back to some degree of 'normality', many businesses are still in survival mode – finding ways to reduce spend, initially looking at controllable costs, like marketing budgets and then their workforce. Certain industries like our own, the travel industry, has been hit hard by the economic slow down and ongoing government restrictions.
So how do you keep your people, motivated and striving during these challenging times? Culture.
Here’s what we’ve learned about culture during a crisis, and some handy tips on what you can do in your workplace.
- Companies with a genuinely strong employee culture, who ‘walk the talk’ in terms of their commitment to providing a supportive and rewarding working community, will see their people return that commitment and loyalty tenfold.
- At Flight Centre Business Travel, we’ve had to go through the same painful processes that many other companies have had to in order to remain fit for the future for both our people and our customers.
- What’s getting us through is our culture; despite these challenging times we’ve seen our culture become stronger than ever.
- We promote to all our staff ownership, egalitarianism, and entrepreneurial flair. These are the cornerstones of this culture, it’s what unites our people from all levels – operations and consultants to senior managers and global leaders.
Keeping the lines of communication open with your teams is so important while keeping the fun and connection alive. Schedule regular check ins (try to make it the same time each day). Stick to an agenda so people know what to expect each day.
For Managers, check in on your team members at least once a week. Give them a safe space to discuss anything that is on their minds, away from the staring eyes of a team Zoom call.
For individuals, book in some time to have a video chat or phone call with a co-worker. At Flight Centre Business Travel, we have introduced Friday morning coffee roulette where you are matched up with someone different every week to grab a virtual coffee with and talk about things other than work. Like - what's your favourite drink and where in the world would you like to be drinking it?
Above all try to not rely solely on email or your chat function. So many times the message can be misinterpreted, or it can take a while for someone to respond and that can leave you feeling frustrated and isolated. Try to video chat or call them on their phone so you can get the answer you need straight away.
- Collaboration is key, whilst making sure everyone feels part of the bigger picture. It’s also beneficial for communication, visibility and cooperation to get what is needed done.
- At Flight Centre Business Travel we’ve focused on this at local, regional and country level, where openness has been reflected by awareness from our people.
- Our leadership teams are committed to supporting our people mentally and physically throughout the coming weeks and months.
Keep Your Traditions Alive – even if it’s virtual
One of the most important parts of company culture is traditions. During times like these it gives employees a sense of normality and reminds them that this isn’t going to be forever - so it’s vital that you try and keep these going in some way.
At Flight Centre Business Travel we have a monthly ‘Buzz’ event where we celebrate our wins and recognise team members who have gone above and beyond. So while we can’t have these in person at the moment, we still host these via Zoom. It keeps our tradition alive and gives our teams a chance to blow off some steam in a fun environment. And it’s a great way to show off those silly hats you’ve got hiding in the cupboard.
Help Manage a Work/Life Balance
Flight Centre Business Travel is proud to promote a flexible workplace, and one that supports its people to stay active and healthy both physically and mentally.
- This month, as an alternative to Steptember (a lot of our people are currently in lockdown) we have set up a Physical Culture challenge to encourage some healthy competition across the States. Exercise is so important in helping with stress levels, so if you can make it fun and easy, people will join in. "Wednesday Morning Meditation" has also been introduced virtually, and is a great way for our team to start the day.
- For Managers, lead by example! Share how you are taking breaks and try to avoid saying you’ve been in non-stop meetings all day (even if you have) – your team will be more likely to make breaks a priority if they see you doing it. Also you can create a list of helpful resources to send to your team to keep handy, like Beyond Blue and your employee assistance provider.
Preparing for a Post-COVID World
So as Australia waits for a return to normality, a lot of hope remains within our organisation.
In between helping stranded travellers return home and navigating the ‘new normal’ to support essential industries such as mining and manufacturing, our people are using the time to upskill and prepare for a post-COVID world.
They are further expanding their travel knowledge, connecting with clients, writing travel blogs and spending time with each other (in person where possible!).