Employees care: Does management walk the walk when it comes to culture?
According to a new survey, employees understand the value of company culture, but they don’t always think that management is effective at communicating or modeling it. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of employees said workplace culture impacts their organization’s success. Three-quarters said that culture influences their own performance; 77% suggested it inspires them to do their best work. Seventy-six percent (76%) said it impacts their productivity and performance, and 74% said culture influences their ability to best serve customers/clients/patients. Sounds great, right? Well, here’s the problem: the survey also showed a major gap between employees’ recognition of culture’s value and how they experience it at work day to day.
Workplace culture is grounded in core values. However, only 38% of respondents said they “strongly agree” that their organization has core values, 34% said they know their company has core values, and only 26% said their employer’s policies align to the company’s core values. Only one-fourth of respondents said their own personal values align with the company’s organizational core values.
Many employees said they didn’t even know if their company has core values or what they are. One reason for this might be that values aren’t infused into the environment, documented and promoted in organizational materials and publications, or modeled by leadership.
Leaders set the tone for workplace culture, and employees look to them for define and model core values. However, only 25% of respondents said they “strongly agree” that they trust their organizations executive leadership; and just 23% “strongly agree” that leadership addresses their concerns. A slightly higher number, 36% said they “strongly agree” that they trust their direct supervisor. The challenge here may be greater for large organizations where executives are out of reach and even unknown to many employees. The problem with this is that lack of trust in the leaders can translate into distrust of the organization itself.
While employees may not always feel connected to leadership, they share bonds with each other. Two-thirds of respondents said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that they feel connected to their colleagues; and a similar percentage indicated that they trust their co-workers. With these numbers, it’s not surprising that employees identified teamwork and collaboration as the most active parts of their organization’s culture. They also identified respect and trust, as well as excellence and quality, as important factors.
Authenticity is more of an internal barometer of culture; but this seems to be strong in the workplace, as 79% of employees said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that they are comfortable being themselves at work; and a small minority indicated that they feel pressure to hide aspects of their true self at work.
Despite their uncertainties about culture and leaders, a majority (72%) of employees said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that they are happy at work. Nearly 60% said they likely would stay at their current organization if they were offered a comparable job elsewhere. This seems to counter the belief some employers have that happiness is too difficult to measure and doesn’t correlate with business outcomes.
The survey authors concluded that investing in workplace culture makes good business sense, especially in tight market where competition for qualified job candidates is fierce. They added that culture isn’t a one-and-done proposition. Instead, organizations must watch it, nurture it, tweak it, and continue to promote and model it over time.