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Can a Company Culture Thrive—or Even Survive—During a Pandemic? A strong company culture is more important than ever as employees work remotely, away from the support and structure of a formal office setting.
Scott Greenberg is a business consultant and keynote presenter who has worked with a lot of franchise organizations to help them build loyal brands and foster connections with customers and employees. He's a big believer in the power of a strong company culture, but he challenges executives who brag about all the fun things happening in their workplaces and then refer to it as "culture-building."
"These things are cool. These things are nice. But they have little to do with culture," says Greenberg. "Culture is much more than how a workplace feels. Culture is a group's identity characterized by three things: beliefs, rituals, and vocabulary. The more members of a group who share these three things, the stronger their bonds and the stronger the culture."
One of the companies Greenberg admires for how it defines and promotes those three elements of culture is Great Clips, Inc., a 100 percent franchisee-owned walk-in hair salon business with more than 1,100 franchisees operating more than 4,400 salons across the U.S. and Canada.
Greenberg is especially impressed by how the Great Clips corporate office has built on its company culture to provide ongoing support to franchisees when many of the home office employees are working remotely.
"Great Clips has always communicated well with franchisees—not all franchisors do—but this year the executives and directors have been deliberate about engaging everyone in the network," says Greenberg. "They're sending the message, "You make a difference.' Employees and franchisees feel they are part of the solution. That's what a strong culture looks like."
Greenberg believes companies that have invested in building a culture are now reaping the rewards. The values embedded in a healthy culture—resilience, teamwork, innovation, commitment to the customer experience—play a big role when outside events affect an organization's way of doing business.
"Companies like Great Clips with a strong culture that champions communication, accountability, kindness, and trust—these things are already part of its DNA—can ride out tough times more easily externally because of what they've built internally."
Greenberg makes the point that having an already established company culture is invaluable during times of change and stress, but it doesn't mean companies lacking a strong culture won't survive the challenges. He says difficult times have a way of bringing awareness to what's working and what's not, and it's a good opportunity for companies to take culture-building more seriously.
"For companies that didn't address culture-building before," Greenberg says, "it's difficult but not impossible to build it now. Employee engagement is key. Even if the leaders have always appreciated their employees, they have to be more intentional about expressing it these days."
For a franchise organization, Greenberg says it's critical for the corporate team to fully understand the importance of its relationships with franchisees and make culture a priority.
"As with any franchise system, there are some franchisees who will embrace the culture and others who will hang back," he says. "The latter are missing out. I've worked with a lot of franchise systems and have seen the social dynamics that go on. Great Clips is best in class."
If you want to know more about the value of investing in a franchise organization that's strong on culture and franchisee success, Great Clips wants to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-947-1143.