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A study from Deloitte found that 87% of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges. In this blog we explore why culture and engagement are hot topics and how they relate to each other.


Culture and engagement defined

Culture is the behaviors and practices of an organization, exhibited by both stated and unstated rules and expectations, providing a picture of how the company and its employees functions as a whole. The culture is dictated by leadership, systems and processes which influence both employee and organizational behavior.

Engagement is the level of commitment which an employee or group of employees will give to an organization on both an emotional and intellectual level.

These are not HR issues they’re business issues

A company’s culture and engagement used to be something that you only found out about when you actually worked somewhere. However, with the world of Glassdoor and employees demanding more transparency from companies, the cultural and engagement qualities are in the public domain for all to see. This can have a profound effect on the level of talent that is attracted to a company, giving a company either a competitive advantage or disadvantage. The business issues don’t just lay within recruitment and attrition prevention though. Companies suffering with poor culture and levels of engagement can expect to see a negative impact on their bottom line due to low productivity and performance from employees with little morale, understanding of their purpose and lack of leadership.

Culture and engagement aren’t new issues, why now?

We have seen the importance of engagement and culture creep more and more up to board and CEO level over the past few years. There are a number of factors which are at play that have caused this, all resulting with an impact on business performance.

  • Shift of power from employer to employee

    As highlighted above, transparency around company culture and engagement practices are now commonplace from the likes of Glassdoor, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, enabling individuals to learn more about the real working life at an organization. Along with job opportunities often promoted through these social channels, it has become increasingly easy for employees to search for or even stumble across job opportunities which may appeal more than their current workplace. Organizations need more than ever to ensure their workplace is meeting or going beyond the experience expectations of their employees, to retain and attract the talent needed to drive business performance.

  • Motivations have changed

    The workforce of today are looking for better work-life integration, having an organization which is flexible to their personal needs and desires. Employees no longer feel satisfied just doing a job for a pay cheque, they want to have purpose at work, understand the organization’s mission and how their role plays a part in that. Deloitte have found that today, more than twice as many employees are motivated by work passion that career ambition.

  • Always on world of work

    Employees are almost always connected to work through their mobile devices and are working longer hours than they used to. There has also been a great influx in remote working due to enablement of collaboration and communications technologies. Culture needs to change to fit in with this new way of working,  including flexibility, mobility, empowerment and development.

Read more about global forces that are impacting the workplace here.

Culture is fueling the fire of engagement

A research report conducted by Denison Consulting showed a convincing correlation between strong cultures and highly engaged workforces. It found that the bottom 10 organizations had an engagement factor in the 11th percentile, whilst the top 10 sat within the 83rd percentile.

Hewitt Associates research also found that a strong cultural alignment is needed for engagement to work effectively and deliver on a company’s financial performance. Cultural alignment is the overlap of an employees desired values and behaviors and their view of the organization’s values and behaviors.

Their study compared scores of the leading, mid-tier and bottom 20 organizations and revealed a strong correlation between aligned values and employee engagement.

Hewitt Associates: Engagement and Cultural Alignment Scores

Hewitt Associates: Engagement and Cultural Alignment Scores

How to create an engaged workforce with a healthy company culture

We are now aware that it is the combination of both an engaged workforce and a strong company culture which drives effective business performance. So how would you go about achieving this?

  • Clear Company Mission

    Provide your employees with a clear company mission to drive motivation and give a sense of purpose and meaning to their work.

    • Empowerment

      Show and tell your employees how their role contributes to the bigger picture. Let them understand the positive impact they make.

  • Leadership

    Build strong leadership that reflects company values, practice what they preach and seeks employee feedback to develop the culture within their teams.

  • Shared Values

    Measure and match the values expressed by the organization through systems and processes to personal ideals and beliefs.

  • Make Engagement a Priority

    Ensure that engagement sits within the corporate priorities. Reinforce the message to leadership that high levels of employee engagement and retention is vital.

  • Real-time Measurement

    Modernize the process of measuring and evaluating engagement – move away just annual surveys to real-time quick pulse employee surveys and feedback to identify how employees really feel. Continually identify strong and weak areas of the culture that can be improved on.

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