Are Differing Views Harmful to Building a Strong Corporate Culture?

rowing in different directions does not build a strong corporate culture

A Strong Corporate Culture Creates More Value to Stakeholders
The global consulting firm Watson Wyatt found that culturally aligned organizations return almost 300% more value to stakeholders. We have found strong corporate cultures can be a competitive advantage.

A Strong Corporate Culture Creates Faster Revenue Growth, Higher Profitability and Greater Employee Engagement
Our own organizational alignment research at over 400 companies across eight industries found cultural factors account for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies. What factors did we consider as we defined high vs. low performance? We looked at:

  • revenue
  • customer satisfaction
  • customer retention
  • profitability
  • leadership effectiveness
  • employee engagement

A strong workplace culture can indeed make a significant difference.

Defining a Strong Corporate Culture
For the sake of this article, let’s define a strong corporate culture simply as the way work truly gets done in an organization on a day-to-day basis.

Who is Really in Charge of Defining the Culture at Work?  HR?  Leadership?  Employees?

  • Is it HR who implements policy?
  • Is it leadership and management who set the rules?
  • Or is it the employees who live and breathe the company culture daily?

Views on Cultural Ownership Vary
When we ask clients,

  • HR often claims they are in charge
  • Managers typically feel the executive team is responsible for cultural norms
  • Employees (especially millennials) think the own the definition and embodiment of a strong corporate culture.

Not only do different stakeholders believe they are in charge of defining a strong corporate culture, but HR, Management and Employees often define culture differently.

First, Get Aligned
Without organizational alignment on the kind of culture you are striving for and who will shape it, you may be pulling in opposite directions and never reach the goal of a strong corporate culture that enhances your employee experience and drives profitable revenue growth.

What most company employees, management and line staff alike, can agree on is that organizational culture matters. It is a proven indicator of employee engagement, client retention and financial business success.

Second, Actively Involve All Stakeholders
In our experience of over twenty years helping our clients define and create their unique culture, we maintain that all stakeholders should be actively involved in helping to shape the organizational culture that will best support current business and future growth. It is all about bringing the key stakeholders together to understand how the three levels of a high performing corporate culture:

  1. Cultural Health
  2. Cultural Performance
  3. Culture and Strategy Alignment

Third, Work Through the Disconnects
Part of the disconnect is that HR, Management and Employees often have a different view of what employees consider the most important attributes of a strong corporate culture.

Employees Want
In our Best Places to Work Employee Engagement Surveys, employees often rate:

  • Compensation
  • Mutual respect
  • Work-life balance

as three priority elements to creating a strong corporate culture.

HR Wants
HR typically rates employee benefits as a leading driver of creating a strong and healthy corporate culture.  Interestingly enough, employee benefits has had one of the lowest correlations to employee engagement in terms of employee advocacy, discretionary effort and intent to stay over the last decade across our survey respondents.

Leaders and Managers Want
Leaders and managers most often believe that leading by example based upon agreed-to company mission and values in addition to high levels of customer centricity matter most in terms of creating a strong and lasting company culture.

People Want to Be Treated Fairly
While all three stakeholders have valid points of view, more often than not employees care most about being treated fairly.  Employees want to work in a corporate culture where they are:

  • Respected and valued
  • Fairly compensated and able to take advantage of opportunities to grow
  • Confident in the integrity and capability of their leaders and each other
  • Clear about how they contribute to something meaningful
  • Empowered to have a voice in the company’s direction and to make decisions about how to best serve customers

The Bottom Line
The more agreement and clarity you can achieve around defining the company culture you desire and the talent that will work toward that culture, the stronger your company will be and the brighter your corporate future.  Work with all stakeholders to define a healthy, high performance and aligned culture to help your people and your business thrive.

To learn more about creating a strong corporate culture to help your business thrive, download The 3 “C’s” that Create High Performance Culture Whitepaper

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