As your region gears up to resume travel, it’s time to rebuild your company culture and prepare to welcome back your customers.
Company culture is more successful by design than by default. Let’s get proactive and face the challenges of distance and uncertainty, so that you can rebuild your team into a mean, cohesive, travel-selling machine, wherever you work from.
Assess your company culture
Start by understanding everyone’s head-space. It’s hard to steer your team if you don’t know what they’re thinking, feeling, and hopeful about. Identify who is still on board, and who’s fallen over and needs a buoy.
- Check on your crew
Conduct company surveys – be specific, anonymous or open, but get clarity on how people feel about the current situation and the immediate future. Asking directly about the extent and root of their anxieties will help you identify possible solutions.
- Acknowledge fears and concerns
Working from home means different things to different people – space, privacy and furniture can vary from one household to another, and impact comfort and productivity. With travel resuming and offices reopening, some employees may remain anxious and prefer to continue remote working. The simple gesture of a phone call or message can convey empathy and much-needed understanding.
- Show your open-door policy
Employees on short-time can suffer from grief, while those working harder than ever under stressful conditions can suffer burn-out. They might feel alone in their situation or no longer part of the crew. That’s why the lines of communication must be (kept) open through ongoing engagement and input from team members. Create safe spaces to acknowledge those feelings, that it’s okay not to be okay.
Reawaken team spirit
A strong pre-pandemic team spirit gives you a good foundation to build on. Regardless, the pandemic would have nudged aside most of your plans, budgets and goals. Fortunately, it has also gifted you with a relatively blank slate to reconfigure your company culture.
- Embrace a growth mindset
If you previously never had time for it, here’s your opportunity to prioritise company culture, and bring your team onto the same page. Confront burn-out, loss and stress urgently in order to build the right momentum to move the team forward.
The way you used to do things has changed. You must factor in the lack of separation between work- and home-time, and distractions at home. Shift your productivity barometer away from logging work hours towards results-driven deadlines.
Focus on values: get your team thinking about the type of company they want to work for, through and beyond crises.
- Continue rituals that work
Determine what aspects of your company culture still work, what needs to adapt, or what is now obsolete, like staff drinks at the end of the week, company-sponsored lunches… Virtual can never replace physical interaction but you can still make it fun and create fellowship on a video call. Arrange regular virtual catch-ups, and lunch or coffee dates.
Focus on connection
How do you re-connect people who’ve been physically far apart for so long? Create opportunities for conversation, make participation mandatory, and schedule inclusively to accommodate teammates working across time zones.
- Invite and enable interaction
Ritualise check-ins with line managers, departmental teammates, and the entire company.
Positive reinforcement is a good remedy for uncertainty and low confidence. Managers must dig out their score cards and give credit where it’s due. People fortunate enough to have their jobs have worked under enormous pressure, while temporarily laid off teammates have coped with unimaginable stress. What a difference it can make to someone’s mindset to be reminded how awesome they are!
- Transparency breeds trust
Leadership should provide regular news updates on future plans, emergency measures and ongoing operations. People left out of the loop tend to jump to false conclusions – laying the facts on the table benefits the entire team, and demonstrates respect and inclusiveness.
- A team consulted is a team invested
The way forward needs a visible plan. Earn their buy-in by making your team part of that journey – because it’s hard to see the goal posts through the fog. Brainstorm jointly on product diversification and new value-adds to existing offerings to take your brand forward. Different perspectives arrive at better solutions together than one or two souls in a silo.
What to do next
Connect as humans, not just for work.
- Check out the free survey tools from SurveyMonkey and other digital communication tools from Google.
- Invite your team to share their personal travel stories on your blog or social media, like The Travel Corporation counsellors who shared their anecdotes. Make it a celebration of all things travel – it’s a way to re-connect with their professional pride and focus on the prospects ahead.
- Upskill and re-skill on products you sell or the tools you use for work. Encourage your team to do something uplifting like a free online course from LinkedIn, Udemy or Wetu.
- Practise gratitude – recognise and express it in a video call or on Slack or Teams, via e-cards or even on social media. Thank a teammate for having your back and share the love among your team.
- KARRYON curated these wonderful quotes from travellers praising their favourite travel consultants, stuck them on a blog and social media. Touch base with past clients – they might just be keen to share some happy memories of their last visit or appreciation for the service they received on their last trip.
- Help your team re-connect through fun virtual team building activities, like those offered by Adventure Works to short-time members of Team Wetu.
The future shape of work
The saying goes: “Tough times don’t last. Tough teams do.” Rebuild your company culture deliberately to ensure that your teams do. As some staff members prefer to work remotely, and others prefer returning to an office space, how will your infrastructure support hybrid operational needs? The answer lies in compromise and compassion. Keep your team unified and working #TourismStrong.