Most companies would cite culture as a key component of success. That’s being tested at businesses all over the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, as managers and workers are digging deep to keep businesses operating as close to normal as possible — even as most people are adjusting to completely new workspaces.
We turned to Armanino’s Chief People Officer (CPO), Carol Ann Nash, to get a sense of what’s working and how companies can succeed with their workforce in volatile times.
First of all, what are you hearing about how folks are succeeding in this new environment?
The feedback I’m getting from people is that they’re spending more time checking in on each other and clients. They are showing genuine concern for wellbeing and ensuring support is there. We’re seeing more conversations about what people are reading and TV show recommendations, for example.
This pandemic has been a group experience. While we aren’t all affected the same way, we are all in it together. That goes for colleagues, clients and neighbors.
And this isn’t just anecdotal. We’ve been using Glint (an employee engagement solution) to anonymously survey and track the mood of our workforce, and initial reporting strongly shows that people are feeling connected to each other right now.
Do you think these stronger connections can make an impact on business?
Absolutely. People are pulling together at all levels, from patronizing local restaurants with takeout, to donating to foodbanks, to really collaborating in the workplace. It’s a mentality of shared experience.
Our firm has always prided itself on being flexible about job roles to empower people to do what they need to do to drive results for clients, and now it’s happening more than ever.
What are some examples of collaboration and flexibility you’re currently seeing?
We like to say our firm’s DNA is made up of innovation and entrepreneurship, and just look at the solutions and tools we have rolled out by leaning into those values. Since April we have collaborated with client partners on a scheduling app for antibody testing, a financial framework toolkit for private schools, a COVID recovery tracker for businesses and plenty more still in the works. Our ability to adapt to the market environment is anchored by our culture of collaboration and agility.
Do you have any advice for organizations that haven’t been intentional about culture?
Leadership sets the tone. Our CEO, Matt Armanino, is an optimist by nature — and advocates for the power of positivity and having an open and communicative organization. I see that attitude reach all levels of the firm, from the executive team to staff. I was recently in a meeting with the Staff Advisory Board (made up of staff-level employees) and the concept of “unwavering optimism” kept coming up.
Everyone is learning how to succeed during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic in real time. If you can be transparent with your people, flexible to new ideas and new ways to work and commit to optimism, you can build the resiliency your organization needs to adapt and overcome our current global business challenges.