How to build an adaptive work culture policy

June 2023

Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020, businesses worldwide have had to embrace an adaptive work culture. In today’s world, it’s non-negotiable for businesses to be able to pivot their strategies quickly and be prepared for anything that may come their way. But fostering a culture of flexibility and positive change can be challenging, especially if the existing culture has been more rigid and traditional up until now. In this guide, we’ll cover why an adaptive culture in organisations can be a positive thing and some tips to help you create an adaptive culture.

In order to thrive and stay competitive, companies need to embrace change and be ready to get creative in the face of any possible challenges. Studies consistently show a number of benefits to companies that embrace change in their culture, including:

  • Increased output: According to a McKinsey study, companies that embrace essential practices in innovation outperform their industry peers, delivering 2.4 times higher economic profit.
  • Increased employee engagement: Adaptive work cultures encourage workers to be more engaged and responsive to company needs. Research by Gallup shows that highly engaged teams experience 21% higher profitability and are 17% more productive than teams with low engagement levels.
  • Increased customer centricity: Companies that embrace change often place a higher focus on customer needs, which gives them a competitive advantage – according to research by PwC, 32% of customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one bad experience.
An environment where employees are encouraged to expand their knowledge and skills results in innovation. Provide opportunities for your teams to work on their professional development, such as training programs, workshops, and industry conferences where they can network. Any space where workers can get creative and learn new skills is important to your culture becoming more adaptable.
Building an adaptive company culture requires common goals and understanding across departments, and a strong focus on effective communication. Provide platforms for employees to share ideas, collaborate on projects, and provide feedback, especially cross-departmentally. Even if your teams are dispersed across various locations, there are many ways to collaborate – communication tools and project management software can help to facilitate efficient information sharing and quick decision-making across teams.

In order to embrace change and innovation, you have to be prepared to take some risks. We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘Ready, Aim, Fire’ - it’s how we usually gear up to take any action, by preparing ourselves, setting our goal, and finally making a move. 


In an adaptive culture, this natural order can be disrupted to move to a more agile ‘Aim, Fire, Ready’ approach. This simply means being more flexible with decision-making, diving in headfirst to projects, and being more open to saying ‘yes’ rather than ‘let’s think about it’. 


While ‘Ready, Aim, Fire’ will always be used for more business-critical decisions that need a lot of time, a more flexible way of working is essential for change.

Diverse perspectives and experiences benefit us all, and are a fantastic way to encourage a more creative and inventive environment. While there can be barriers to diversity in any workplace, an adaptive culture allows HR to quickly remedy this and ensure that this priority is protected. All employees should feel valued, respected and empowered to contribute their unique insights and thoughts. Bring this approach to every area of your business, including hiring practices, and watch your organisation’s creativity grow.
A company’s culture relies on its leaders setting the right example. Managers and C-suite employers should be role models for adaptive behaviours, such as embracing change, seeking feedback, and being open to new ideas. Demonstrate your own commitment to continuous learning and encourage your team to follow suit. When employees can see you making the effort, they’re more likely to embrace a new culture themselves.

International HR managers are recommended to implement an adaptive work culture if you want your organisation to attract top talent, outperform competitors, and navigate challenges with ease. Change won’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t have to take a huge, sudden overhaul of your business model. If you simply embrace a more open and flexible mindset in your organisation, your journey towards innovation can start as soon as possible. 


When managing international employees, it’s important to think of every aspect of their wellbeing, including their safety. Ensure your expat employees' physical and mental needs are met with international health insurance.