COVID-19 has necessitated significant changes to the way we work. Technology has been instrumental in supporting this shift, but there’s another element playing a foundational role in enabling organisations to adapt fast and with greater success – culture.
Our report presents evidence that when the right behaviours are activated, shaping an organisation’s distinct culture, this can be a source of competitive advantage. The insights were drawn from a survey of 3,243 respondents, who told us of their work experiences in the context of the pandemic. In Malaysia, 258 participants across different industries and job levels responded.
We also explore the challenges that are present, for instance, the difficulty in maintaining a sense of community when working remotely, and the gaps in perception of culture between senior management and employees, which can hinder effective culture change from taking place.
Download the full report below to learn more about how culture can help organisations meet their strategic objectives.
Explore the key findings
Workplace culture needs to evolve
63% of Malaysian respondents think their organisation has a distinctive culture that sets them apart from competitors.
86% of Malaysian respondents say their organisation’s culture must evolve in the next three to five years for them to succeed, grow, and retain the best people.
- Culture impacts employee motivation and productivity, and it needs to evolve in line with changing times if organisations want to succeed, grow, and retain the best people.
- Organisations should identify and focus on a ‘critical few’ behaviours that will enable the type of desired change instrumental in achieving business goals.
- The strength of culture – an organisation’s DNA – can be assessed, which is important to do, so organisations can fix problem areas and unleash their people’s full potential.
Leaders and employees have opposing views on culture
75% of leaders believe they are role modeling purpose, values and culture in their organisation. Only 52% of employees agree.
80% of leaders feel connected to their organisation’s purpose. Only 57% of employees feel the same.
- 75% of leaders believe their organisation actively listens to differing voices and perspectives when making major decisions, even if it adds time and complexity. Only 48% of employees agree.
- 76% of leaders agree that their organisation embraces flexibility and makes adjustments to help people with differing needs excel at work. 63% of employees feel the same.
- As purpose gives meaning to the work employees do, leaders need to role model behaviours and actions that uphold the organisation’s purpose. Frequent two-way communication nurtures a culture of trust and transparency, which can help bring purpose to life.
- Organisations will find it difficult to operate smoothly if the basics that make up a great culture like teamwork and diversity and inclusion are neglected. While leaders need to address these issues, it’s also up to managers (who work closely with team members) to actualise desired changes. For example, there’s no point implementing policies that promote flexibility if it comes from the top, only to stop in the middle.
- The use of workforce analytics tools can nurture a culture that cares for employee wellbeing, as they can give managers a view of team members’ workload, which could signal the need for redistribution.
- There are certain ingredients needed to enable successful change initiatives, which may be unique to their own organisation. Employee pulse check surveys would help leaders get a gauge of employee sentiments, and provide them with insights into what’s working and what’s not.
- Innovation and breakthroughs are often the products of consistent trial and error. Leaders may not always be comfortable with failure, but they should work together with employees in setting the right strategy to achieve set goals, adopting the mindset that failure is a stepping stone to something great.
75% of Malaysian respondents say they had the ability to adapt quickly to respond to change as necessary over the past year.
69% of Malaysian respondents think that their workplace culture has been a source of competitive advantage throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 39% of Malaysian respondents say employee satisfaction decreased as a result of the pandemic.
- 87% of Malaysian respondents say their current business models need to change.
- COVID-19 has changed consumer behaviour, requiring organisations to pivot quickly in response. With organisational performance relying heavily on culture, organisations that want to get ahead of their competitors will have to encourage their employees to demonstrate behaviours that lead to positive outcomes e.g. teamwork, collaboration, trust.
- Flexibility is in demand, and an organisation’s decision on whether employees will work in the office, at home, or both, will be a differentiating factor in terms of workplace attractiveness. The feasibility of where people can work may depend on industries, but should organisations bring people back to the office, safety measures need to be implemented and enforced to give employees peace of mind. And should remote work become the preferred model, then tools and training that will empower employees to perform their best will need to be supplied.
- Working from home amid the pandemic is not without challenges, and organisations need to provide their people with the support they need (e.g. with technology, training, coaching) to enable the delivery of results and to ensure a sense of community is maintained. If employees are still facing difficulties, leaders should dive deeper to find out what the root cause is.
- To be resilient in a world of rapid digitalisation, one further disrupted by the uncertainties of the pandemic, organisations need to update their business models, looking at a range of areas that cover their operations/processes, products and services, and their workforce.
Malaysians are motivated to learn new skills
- 86% of Malaysian respondents say they are motivated to learn new skills to support their organisation’s success.
As upskilling and reskilling are pivotal to enabling employees to fulfill the demands of today’s more digitally-inclined customers, organisations need to provide their people with these opportunities, recognising that it also contributes to their success.
- A structured and customised upskilling or reskilling programme can help bring out the ‘critical few’ behaviours organisations hope to nurture and reward. Over time, this may help build a culture of collaboration, innovation, and continuous learning within the organisation.
Broadening and speeding up the progress of upskilling and reskilling will require collaboration between the private and public sectors, a vital step in narrowing the digital divide.