Hyper-growth adds culture problems to crisis list

Hyper-growth adds culture problems to crisis list
21/04/2020 Vault Platform

The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy could see the equivalent of 195 million jobs wiped out by Q2. But for a handful of companies in high-demand sectors such as e-commerce and grocery stores, established giants like Amazon have a significant opportunity and may dominate the job market for the foreseeable future.

In the past four weeks since mid-March, Amazon has hired over 100,000 new employees to fulfill rising demand and is set to hire 75,000 more. The UK’s supermarket giants are each looking to hire between 3,000 to 5,000 permanent or part-time staff totaling around 45,000 new positions. Meanwhile, social media newcomer TikTok, is looking to hire an additional 10,000 employees in defiance of a downturn in the tech sector as consumption on its platform skyrockets.

But rapid growth of this scale brings with it new challenges to HR, organizational culture, and integrity that must be shouldered by an already overburdened demographic.

Amazon workers across the US are refusing to show up for work this week, instead calling in sick to protest alleged failings to protect workers from Coronavirus. Workers are taking to public protests, social media, and the press to voice concerns over a lack of protective equipment and other measures. The company’s six French distribution centers were closed down by the government this week over similar concerns.

  1. More employees means potentially more “bad apples” – hiring at this scale in short time-frames by an overstretched HR team can lead to a less thorough recruitment process. A less thorough on-boarding process, as well as more employees, can lead to a higher risk of discrimination, bullying, and harassment internally. Organizations hiring at this scale will need to deploy the right tools and resources to their growing teams to ensure the strategy and the culture is communicated effectively. Vault Platform provides direct access to the latest policy documents and acts as a channel for employees to voice concerns and ensure HR teams are able to resolve issues more efficiently.
  2. Loss of unity and dilution of business values – workplace culture picks up where strategy leaves off and stems from an organization’s ability to communicate its values effectively. The rapid speed of hiring and onboarding could lead to a dilution of company values and an ‘integrity vacuum’, where people are unsure how to behave in certain situations. Vault Platform provides a safe space for employees to speak up and ask questions or raise concerns so they can feel better supported.
  3. Fewer resources to manage a growing employee base – HR professionals’ time is inevitably stretched at the moment, not only as a result of managing the hiring/onboarding process but also managing existing day-to-day tasks and new issues related to COVID-19, such as deploying a remote working strategy. Without dedicated and engaging mechanisms in place to capture information, whether it’s about Coronavirus infections or personal concerns, organizations are leaving themselves open to an unknown risk.

In a crisis such as this, innovation can happen very quickly and successful business leaders will be looking to take advantage of this opportunity as much as possible. But in order to do that, organizations need to be able to respond quickly. 

We recently streamed a webinar discussion with organizational culture expert Professor Frances Frei of Harvard Business School about these opportunities and how to lead effectively, even remotely.