Culture-Building During the Pandemic

May 2, 2020


As state leaders begin to soften quarantine restrictions, businesses are again adapting and reassessing their plans. For some organizations, work from home generally works. For others, this has meant assembling new plans to re-engage workers safely and meet newly drafted health precautions.

In either situation, it could be a really good time to check in with your employees and assess your current communication approach. When stay-at-home orders were first issued, business leaders had to move swiftly. Direct, concise communication was critical.  

Now, heading into our third month with COVID-19, it’s likely that your communication approach has changed and your employees needs have changed. Surveying your team is a quick and easy way to understand how they’re doing and what they need most to keep going. It’s also an effective way to gather information that can shape what you do next to reaffirm and protect your culture.

Asking your employees for feedback can improve morale and give employees a greater sense of connection to the brand. Surveys uncover both positive and negative sentiments. Identifying these sentiments gives leaders important direction on where to focus time and resources and the chance to address issues before they build.

Many of us have found ourselves in unchartered waters. Looking to your employees for guidance and answers to what they need, what’s working and how you can help is an important part of navigating the unknown.

Measuring and Building Culture

I’ve outlined below a few considerations to help you prepare an employee engagement survey. Consider asking your employees:

How they are doing. Burn out is a real concern among many leaders right now. Employees are working longer hours and balancing work, childcare and home responsibilities. Gauging how people are feeling can give you a better sense of what is needed to help them through this time.

What’s working. Not everything that has occurred during this pandemic has been negative. In fact, there have been some really positive transformation stories. This is an opportunity to decide what elements of this experience align with your purpose and may become permanent fixtures of your business.

To identify barriers. It’s equally as important to know what isn’t working and to identify the greatest hurdles in front of you. This gives you an opportunity to focus resources where they will have the most impact.

For their suggestions. Involve others. Ask employees what could help ease the transition to re-entering the office/store or continuing to work from home. Likewise, give them an opportunity to make suggestions to solve problems or address needs. You might find some recommendations more attainable than you imagined. 

About purpose. Purpose matters right now because it gives people a collective focus. At a time when it’s easy to dwell on how the pandemic affects ‘me,’ brand purpose reminds people that what they do matters. Measure if, and how, people are connecting with the company’s purpose right now.

A survey is also a great place to test ideas or gauge understanding. Before embarking on potential changes, test them. Or, ask if further adjustments are needed to recent changes.

Part of building a strong culture is listening and giving people a chance to be heard. This is even more important during a time layered with so much change and uncertainty.

If this is something that interests you, feel free to check out our new resources library. I assembled a few tools to help with developing your own culture-building survey. I will be adding more soon. I’ve also developed an affordable package for anyone who would value help creating and administering a custom employee engagement survey. Or, feel they could benefit from help adjusting their communications approach based on the findings.




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Karen Bailey is a brand purpose consultant and specializes in helping companies define their purpose and align their business around it. In 2017, she launched the blog, Purpose Greater Than Profit, to start a meaningful conversation about the increasingly important role of brand purpose, purposeful leadership and a better way of doing business.


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