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Moving forward in the “New” World of Work

Womenlines takes pleasure to share about Friska Wirya, Change Management Expert, Leadership and Management Consultant at Fresh by Friska, from Melbourne, as a guest contributor at Womenlines. Check out her article on how to move forward in the “New” world of work with COVID around-

What did COVID reveal about the workplace culture, good and/or bad?

Have you ever felt that the valleys (low not such great times) teach you the lessons mountain tops (business flying high) never could?

A crisis tends to exacerbate and bring out people’s true essences. Organizations are made of people. People can strengthen or erode an organization’s culture by a single action, a single decision, a single word. The COVID-19 pandemic provided a behind the scenes look at organizational cultures – the good, the bad, the ugly.

I have found it is not the organization with the largest balance sheet, the most aggressive marketing plan, nor the biggest quarterly profits… but it is those with the healthiest cultures that emerge stronger after a crisis.

Too many companies bet on a cut-throat, take-no-prisoners culture to drive financial success. There’s an assumption that pressure and stress drive employees to achieve more. What these organizations don’t realize – or ignore altogether – are the hidden costs of an unhealthy culture: stress, disengagement, lack of loyalty.

Research shows that healthcare expenditures at companies with high-pressure cultures are nearly 50% greater than at other organizations, with almost 80% of workplace accidents attributed to stress. Unsurprisingly, disengagement is low when people aren’t happy or find meaning in their work. In studies by the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers have 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In turn, this results in people leaving, workplace stress caused by unhealthy cultures leads to an increase of almost 50% involuntary turnover. 

The coronavirus ‘valley’ has created a moment of truth for every company. Leaders are rightly asking themselves: Are our choices and actions reflecting our culture, purpose, and values that we espouse? We have seen companies with healthy lifestyles enjoy continued and even greater success during this pandemic such as Slack, Culture Amp, and Best Western Hotels. 

Culture doesn’t belong to one person, it doesn’t belong to the top leadership group, it’s something to share and co-create with your people. Use this time to reconnect with your purpose and values. When this crisis has passed, and you climb back on the mountaintop, will you look back with pride at how your company responded?

If the answer is no, then change it.

Culture, although intangible and nebulous, can be changed using a structured change management approach:

Culture always matters, but it matters now more than ever.


Friska Wirya is a Change Management Expert, Leadership and Management Consultant at Fresh by Friska. She has led change programs impacting up to +23,000 people across the seven continents for the biggest names in mining, engineering and technology. A lifelong learner, her effectiveness at managing the people-side of change has proven to be a compelling productivity-boosting strategy.

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