Weathering the storm through company culture

The current crisis is an unprecedented challenge for companies around the world.

With the global economy at a virtual standstill and billions of people on lockdown, almost all industries will suffer in some shape or form. However, the unavoidable truth is that the travel industry will be the one to bear the brunt of this economic slowdown. Many businesses are now in survival mode, finding any way they can to reduce spend including controllable costs like marketing budgets and then the workforce.

It’s during these challenging times that a company’s culture is truly put to the test. Those with a genuinely strong employee culture, who ‘walk the talk’ in their commitment to providing a supportive and rewarding working community, will now see their commitment return dividends.

As a travel company, FCM isn’t immune to the downturn and we have had many tough decisions to make in recent weeks. But if a silver lining in this global crisis is to be found, it’s in the commitment, loyalty and positivity of our incredible people during these times as testament to a genuinely strong company culture.

Here’s what we’ve learned about culture during a crisis, and some handy tips on what you can do in your workplace.

Man on zoom call looking out window.

Communications 101

  • Keep the lines of communication with your teams open. Schedule a daily stand up or check in (try to make it the same time each day).  Stick to an agenda so people know what to expect each day.
  • For Managers: check in on your team members at least once a week. Give them a safe space to discuss anything that is on their minds, away from the staring eyes of a team Zoom call.
  • For Individuals: book in some time to have a video chat or phone call with a co-worker. It doesn’t have to be about work, you can have ‘tea time’ or even a late afternoon glass of wine or beer if your work is ok with that.
  • And above all try to not rely solely on email or your chat function. So many times the message can be misinterpreted, or it can take a while for someone to respond and that can leave you feeling frustrated and isolated. Try to video chat or call them on their phone so you can get the answer you need straight away.
Online birthday event.

Keep your traditions alive – even if it’s virtual

  • One of the most important parts of company culture is traditions. During times like these it gives employees a sense of normality and reminds them that this isn’t going to be forever - so it’s vital that you try and keep these going in some way.
  • At FCM we have a monthly ‘Buzz’ event where we celebrate our wins and recognise team members who have gone above and beyond.  So while we can’t have these in person at the moment, we still host these via Zoom. It keeps our tradition alive and gives our teams a chance to blow off some steam in a fun environment. And it’s a great way to show off those silly hats you’ve got hiding in the cupboard!
  • Consider hosting a virtual breakfast or lunch with your team to replace your usual team lunches. Some of our teams have a regular Zoom meeting every Tuesday at 12pm where people can drop in during their lunch break to say hello.
Woman doing yoga with mask on.

Help manage work/life balance

  • FCM is proud to promote a flexible workplace, and one that supports its people to say active and healthy both physically and mentally.  And we are finding ways to keep this going virtually!
  • Consider hosting a lunch time walk, fun run or gym session where you team can join in from home. Exercise is so important in helping with stress levels, so if you can make it fun and easy, people will join in.
  • For Managers: lead by example! Share examples of how you are taking breaks and try to avoid saying you’ve been in non-stop meetings all day (even if you have) – your team will be more likely to make breaks a priority if they see you doing it.
  • Create a list of helpful resources like Beyond Blue and your employee assistance provider and send to your team to keep handy.
  • We have a great resource about how to look after your mental health while working from home. You can download this here.
Man working and talking on phone smiling.

Preparing for a post-COVID world

So as the world waits for the curve to flatten, a lot of hope remains within our organisation.

  • In between helping stranded travellers return home and navigating the ‘new normal’ to support essential industries such as mining and manufacturing, our people are using the time to upskill and prepare for a post-COVID world.
  • They’re further expanding their travel knowledge, connecting with clients, writing travel blogs and spending time with each other (over Zoom of course!).

Despite the challenging circumstances, the ownership, egalitarianism and entrepreneurial flair that form the cornerstone of our parent company, Flight Centre Travel Group, continues to shine through.  Now’s the time for you to embrace your company culture, to harness it and allow it to help you weather the storm!

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