How we used the pandemic to accelerate and improve our workplace culture

by Justine Shaw – People & Culture Director, CPP Group

Covid-19 has had a tremendous and rapid impact on workplace culture. With lockdown and travel bans imposed on companies across the globe, 2020 was a year that tested businesses on their ability to adapt and remain resilient.

The pandemic highlighted just how important a great corporate culture really is because it suddenly became the differentiator between companies that survived and those that thrived.

This blog will explore the ways in which we’ve progressed our culture using the lessons we’ve learned from covid-19 and how we’ve used insights provided by our colleagues to develop a more forward looking culture, something we’re calling ‘Next Generation CPP’.

What we learned from our colleagues

When we first found ourselves in the pandemic we embarked on a company-wide listening venture. We wanted to understand the impact of the pandemic on our colleagues before using the findings to develop a more resilient and connected workplace. One that could withstand setbacks and changes brought on by the likes of a pandemic or indeed any event with such an impact. You can read more about our approach to this exercise here.

Adapting to homeworking amidst a pandemic saw us having to change the way we work practically overnight. Organisations were having conversations about long-term home and hybrid working models. While this was relevant, we wanted to go beyond flexible working and use this inflection point to progress our culture even further.

We therefore asked our colleagues to tell us how they wanted to work going forward. More importantly we wanted to know what other areas of work and life were at the forefront for them at a time when many social issues had been highlighted. We would use this rich insight to evolve our culture to meet the changed world we now live in.

Here are some of the key themes from our research:

New principals to work to

After collating this data we took a deeper dive into devising how we could meet these ambitions for the good of the business and our people. Using the overarching themes from our inquiry we considered what kind of principles we required as individuals and collectively, creating ways of working that reflect new perceptions and attitudes. We defined 10 principles for all our colleagues which will underpin the continuous evolution and maturity of our culture.

Each principle affirms our thinking on areas such as flexible working, inclusivity, staying connected, wellbeing, equality and development. They are all underlined with the commitments required of both colleagues and managers. The principles are an authentic output of our people and with them we’re empowering everyone at CPP to be able support and develop themselves and each other. They will steer our culture towards becoming more inclusive and ultimately encourage everyone to bring their best selves to the business regardless of where they are based.

Principles applied

As well as rolling out the principals themselves, to bring them to life and integrate them within our culture we have developed some new initiatives:

We will gradually roll-out further initiatives as we progress on our culture journey, reviewing and refining our steps along the way.

Continuing to evolve

By leveraging the energy required for rapid change activated by the pandemic we’ve accelerated our workplace culture in a matter of months. People and situations are always changing and so by strengthening our values and developing initiatives that allow us to continuously evolve, we are able to meet the needs of our people and adapt to the changing world that we live in. This has been fundamental to our success as a business during challenging times.

Justine Shaw – People & Culture Director

Justine has over 20 years’ experience in senior strategic and operational HR roles in the UK and Canada, spanning telecom, financial services and consulting/professional engineering. Since joining CPP in February 2012, she has held the roles of Group HR Director and Chief People Officer with a focus on talent and a positive performance culture. Justine has a Bachelor of Science in Applied and Human Biology.

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