Article (November-2020)


Impact of Covid on the Organizational Culture

Yashwant Bhaid

Designation : -   VP Group HR

Organization : -  Pharmaceutical


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Organizational Culture if we look from Edgar Schein Model perspective has three layers. The top one is the Behaviours which are visible, the Values which are not directly visible and the Assumptions at the lowest level which are indeed difficult to see and understand easily. The values and assumptions do surface when the customers or external world interact with the organization on regular basis and when they see either consistency or difference in what the organization claim and what they actually demonstrate. These are more vividly experienced by the employees through their day to day employee experience as the moment of the truth - here and now.

Using the above perspective, let us look at how Covid19 has influenced and impacted the Organizational Cultures. Covid19 is the pandemic which has affected entire world, has been yet unpredictable in terms of spread, possible control and to what extent it is going to continue its damage on the global economy at large. Corporate giants to small and medium scale entrepreneurs, all are affected by Covid19 while the degree of impact will differ based on the size, scale and the complexity the organization. To understand the impact of Organization Culture on the Organizations during Covid19, let us look at the two critical layers of culture model discussed above which are deep routed and more evidently seen and experienced in Covid19 like situations.

Impact on Behaviours:

Based on the financial viability of the operations on one hand and the criticality and importance an organization assign to their employee's wellbeing, we have seen organizations demonstrating behaviours through their decisions about treating and managing their employees in these testing period. A CEO of a trusted leadership Indian conglomerate was found expressing in the internal open forum with the employees that I shall not compromise people cost (Asset perspective) but then I want each and every of my employee to challenge each and every other cost judiciously and partner with the organization to fight the pandemic. On the other hand we have seen examples across organizational size, shape and complexities taking manpower (liability perspective) rationalization and downsizing as forced measures to control costs and lean down the headcount. We cannot generalize what is and what is wrong as it completely depend on the context of the organization and its ability to deal with the situation. What matter most is the very approach the organization take to balance between the impact on the operations and impact on employees.

A balance is what make the efforts fruitful and journey comfortable both for the organization and its employees. When employees are well taken care of, they reciprocate to push the operations and once the operations sustain and grow the organization can further up its efforts towards its employees. The converse is also true, if the Organization focuses only on operations and ignores or reduces its focus on employees, they gets de-motivated, dis-satisfied and dis-engaged and it will further down the operations and the vicious circle will sooner become unmanageable for the organization. The exact nature and quality of efforts taken in right direction shall also depend on the overall organizational maturity on its business and people processes.

Yashwant Bhaid - VP Group HR with Hexagon Nutrition Pvt. Ltd.,  Mumbai

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