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updated: 1/22/2021 8:32 AM

Company culture in the Year of COVID

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  • Beth Carter

    Beth Carter

By Beth Carter
Shaker Recruitment Marketing

The pandemic has changed many things -- not only how we work, but how our company operates remotely as a team -- and has made maintaining our company culture challenging. Through fostering engagement among our employees, communicative and empathetic leadership, and the desire for continuous improvement, we've been able to find our stride.

At the very beginning of the pandemic, we knew that prioritizing engagement would be key to making sure we could keep tabs on the well-being and mental health of our employees. Our CEO, Joe Shaker, immediately sought out the opinions of the team and asked what we needed for a smooth transition to working from home. Our IT team, which has been working harder than ever, made sure we had everything we needed, including a Yammer channel that is purely for fun. This gives everyone the opportunity to have those "water-cooler" conversations and touchpoints with co-workers that they lose when not being in the office together.

Our leadership team has also been key in prioritizing our company traditions and culture. We are lucky to have a strong and fearless but also empathetic leader. Many companies have struggled in the shift to remote because it has highlighted gaps in communication from the top down. We are grateful to have a CEO who not only gives grace and understanding to his employees but also recognizes the importance of frequent touchpoints and keeping an open line of communication. Joe wanted to start off quarantine strong, so at the very beginning, back in March, began daily emails to the entire company. Not a workday has gone by where we didn't receive at least a short note from him.

While we have successfully adjusted to COVID realities, we continue to seek out ways we can adjust our approach and better ourselves. Pre-pandemic, we only had a handful of remote employees; however, now that we can successfully work remotely, that greatly opens up the talent pool for future job openings. Now we won't be confined to only local talent or those willing to relocate. We've also learned to celebrate the small wins. Many of those daily emails from Joe recognize team members for successful pitches, closing deals or great client presentations. And finally, we've come to celebrate the fact that we are a diverse organization filled with individuals with different strengths. Some of our employees love doing webinars, panel discussions and speaking up in team meetings, while others shy away from having their camera turned on for conference calls. And that's OK. We all contribute something unique.

Reflecting back on last year, we feel very lucky for how we have stuck together, tackled the unprecedented challenges together and come out a stronger team in the end. With the prioritization of employee engagement, empathetic leadership that continuously extends grace from the top down, and the desire to improve upon what we're doing, we look forward to another year of learning and growing together and tackling whatever twists and turns this year is going to throw at us. We know that what makes us Shaker -- the consideration, respect and care we have for each other -- won't be swayed by external circumstances and will allow us to thrive, no matter what 2021 has in store.

• Beth Carter is employer brand manager at Shaker Recruitment Marketing.