The Link between Engagement and Company Culture

link between engagement and company culture shown in rings

Employee Engagement and Company Culture
The link between engagement and company culture is not hard to find.  We define culture as how and why things truly get done in an organization.  We define employee engagement as the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.

Employee engagement is NOT the same thing as happiness, satisfaction, or well-being, and company culture is NOT the same thing as employee engagement.

Why Engagement and Culture Matter
Employees that are engaged, understand their job, and have positive feelings toward their manager are two to four times more productive than other employees.  They are also twice as unlikely to be looking to leave.

Our organizational alignment research found that healthy and aligned company cultures account for 40% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of profitable revenue growth, customer retention, and employee engagement.  In fact, culturally aligned organizations with high-trust return 286% more value to stakeholders than low-trust organizations.

The Link between Engagement and Company Culture
There is a strong link between engagement and company culture.  We believe that there are three levels of a company culture that have a direct link to employee engagement.

  • Little-C of Culture – Organizational Health: The first level of culture, the Little-C, measures the values and behaviors across an organization. Organizational health can be measured on a good-to-bad scale in terms of employee well-being, ability to function effectively, adaptability, opportunities for growth and utilization of resources. This is where levels of employee engagement fit with company culture.Every company wants to be healthy and every employee wants to work for a healthy organization.  Organizational health creates the foundation for high performance by actively engaging employees.
  • Medium-C of Culture – High Performance Environment: The second level of culture measures how to get the most out of your people once you have created high enough levels of organizational health. We believe that it is a leader’s job to create the circumstances to consistently get the most out of their people in a way that is fits with the organization’s core values, behaviors and strategies.   Companies with high performance cultures provide clear performance expectations, use fair methods to measure performance, and create meaningful motivation to perform.It is difficult to create high performance with a disengaged workforce.
  • Big-C of Culture – Strategic Alignment: The third level of culture measures how aligned your culture is with your business strategy. In our experience, strategies often fail because organizations have a highly fragmented (and often hidden) set of underlying belief systems which determine how to interpret and accomplish strategic goals.  These overly complex and often conflicting sets of beliefs can severely undermine strategic progress.It is difficult to change underlying belief systems unless you have healthy levels of employee engagement.

Four Steps to Achieve Higher Levels of Employee Engagement
Without high levels of organizational health and employee engagement, it is difficult to create a high performing and aligned company culture to help move your company’s strategy forward.  Take these four steps to set the foundation for both people and business success.

1. Identify the Role Engagement and Retention Play in Your People and Business Strategies
Ambiguity is your enemy here. Be crystal clear about the relative importance of engaging and retaining top talent compared to the other strategic initiatives on your plate.  This will set the stage for the next three moves.

2. Focus on Implementation First, Then Assessing Engagement
Ensure that you have the desire, time and ability to take meaningful action based upon any employee engagement survey results. Too often companies jump first to selecting “the right engagement survey” without thinking through the strategy, culture and talent implications of the potential actions required to measurably improve employee engagement.

3. Use an Engagement Survey that Provides Strategic Insight and Enables Immediate Action
While they may be good for a consultant’s bottom line, standardized or abbreviated engagement surveys typically provide leaders less than half the information needed to make decisions and take action. The key is to use a validated and customizable engagement survey that is action-driven rather than curiosity-driven.

4. Make an Employee Engagement and Retention Index a Key Performance Indicator
Your engagement index is the equivalent of your company’s market capitalization for your employees, and it should be used to evaluate all human capital programs looking to improve employee advocacy, discretionary effort and retention.

The Bottom Line
A high performing and aligned company culture go hand in hand with a proactively engaged workforce. Remember…Organizational Health (the Little-C) engages employees. It is the “ticket to play the people game” for any well run organization. Your Performance Environment (the Medium-C) creates the circumstances for your people to thrive and know where they stand.  A Purposeful and Aligned Culture (the Big-C) engages the business strategy by focusing on how the strategic work gets done.  This is how you establish the link between engagement and company culture.

If you want to learn about research-backed ways to improve employee engagement, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Engagement

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