Exclusive Humantelligence and HR.com research
A strong company culture is vital for a successful organization. But, developing this solid culture is no small task. Do you have a positive culture within your organization? If not, how do you create one? Once you do, can you successfully measure and manage it? To help answer the burning HR questions of today, Humantelligence, a leading provider of culture analytics and recruiting software partnered with HR.com, social networking, and news site for HR professionals. In the joint study, corporate culture is defined as “the behaviors, motivators, values, and work styles of a team, a group of teams and/or an organization as a whole.”
• Managing Culture. Only about one-third of human resources (HR) professionals think their organization manages culture successfully or very successfully. • Measuring Culture. Most organizations do not know how to measure culture well, and HR is not very familiar with culture across different departments. • Top-Down Approach to Culture. Most organizations fail to evaluate culture as it pertains to the majority of employees or individual preferences, the inter-workings of teams and bringing new talent into the organization. • Budget for Culture. Just one-fifth of HR professionals have a budget-related to corporate culture. • Success with Culture. Success is associated with strategic focus, measurement, and investment.
Are Organizations Successful at Managing Culture?
A large majority of HR professionals view corporate culture as an important issue. Over half (55%) rank corporate culture as very important and another quarter (25%) rank it as important. Given its high importance, it’s alarming that most organizations are not successfully managing their corporate cultures. In fact, only 8% say their organization manages culture very successfully and just 22% say they do this successfully. Survey Question: How successfully does your organization manage its corporate culture?
Who is Accountable for Managing Culture?
One of the most complex aspects of managing corporate culture is determining who is responsible for it. In today’s corporate cultures, about two-fifths (39%) of HR professionals hold that “everyone” is accountable for managing culture. Although this was the most common response, it does not represent the majority positions. Instead, nearly half (47%) of HR professionals believe that the management of culture resides with leadership (that is, leaders or the CEO) or with the HR department. In short, there is a lack of true “best practices” that may help explain why so few organizations manage culture successfully.
The Relationship Between HR and Corporate Culture
Ninety percent of participants think two companies in the same industry can have similar engagement scores but have very different cultures. This may imply that, although raising employee engagement levels often means changing corporate culture, there are many cultural paths to higher engagement. Most HR professionals apparently realized that engagement levels are not going to tell them about various important aspects of culture. Engagement information might not provide the kind of detailed data showing whether the organization has the right people with the right culture fit in the right roles. Whether an employee is happy or frustrated is not necessarily an indicator of whether they are in the right role and able to contribute productively. For example, one company may be hyper-focused on product quality while another predominately promotes customer service. Depending on their own values and aspirations, employees could be highly (or poorly) engaged at work. Often, engagement will depend on the cultural fit between the employee and the organization. Many HR leaders believe their executive team can strongly influence the corporate culture. About two-fifths (42%) of participants agree or strongly agree that the culture of the executive team IS the culture throughout the organization. This suggests that the attempted formation and management of cultures is often perceived or treated as a “top-down” process. Survey Statement: To what extent do you agree with the following statements about your organization?
What Gets Measured? What Tools and Metrics Are Used?
Generally speaking, the purpose of better measurement is better management. This applies to the management of corporate culture as much as it does to the management of sales, manufacturing, marketing, and employee benefits. Yet, only about one-quarter (28%) of HR professionals measure culture in some way. An even smaller percentage measures the differences between the overall corporate culture and specific teams (16%). Among the minority of organizations that measure culture, climate surveys (which often viewed as “engagement surveys”) tend to be the tool of choice. These surveys, which are used to gauge the overall attitudes and perceptions of the company as a whole, are used by 68% of such organizations. Climate surveys come in a wide variety. Depending on how a survey is structured, it can measure a range of factors, from employee attitudes and engagement to leadership styles, satisfaction with corporate culture, the effectiveness of training and benefits, and more. What Attributes Are Valued and Assessed?
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of responding HR professionals say their organization values diversity of thought. However, few organizations assess employees’ work behavior or cognitive styles. This makes it more difficult to evaluate the diversity of thought. It also makes it harder for managers to assess good matchings of team members and to understand when internal conflicts are caused by differences in cognitive styles. The increasing diversity of cognitive styles can also help employers avoid groupthink. Managers and HR professionals with a better understanding of cognitive and behavioral differences may also be better able to determine when a team’s subculture is significantly different from that of the overall organizational culture. Leaders can potentially use this information to build more high-performing and cohesive teams.
What Cultural Hiring Practices Are Utilized?
Most (70%) HR professionals say their organizations hire people who are a “good fit” for the team as well as meet the needs of the job role. However, given this is mostly an intuitive exercise, this doesn’t always work out well, with 69% admitting that “my organization sometimes hires candidates whom managers/recruiters like but who turns out to be a poor team fit.” Ignoring or misjudging team fit is just one difficulty associated with the interviewing process. Recruiters, managers and HR professionals, in general, should all have a nuanced understanding of what “good fit” means. Generally speaking, teams and organizations will tend to be more innovative and effective if they take advantage of employee diversity. Therefore, a job candidate that “everyone likes” might not be the best fit for a role or for long-term team performance.
What Do High Performers Do Differently?
Three-fifths (61%) of higher-performing* culture organizations have a formal description or definition of culture, compared with just one-fifth (20%) of lower-performing** organizations. We think such descriptions help employees understand how to act and what is reasonable to expect from their colleagues and peers. However, such descriptions only serve as a starting point. Their effectiveness in generating a meaningful overall culture and subcultures depends on how well cultural values are communicated and reinforced. Higher-performing culture organizations are more likely to value “diversity of thought” (88% versus 41% for lower-performing). Such diversity is widely believed to yield greater innovation, particularly when diversity is conveyed respectfully and in a trusting environment. Compared to their lower-performing counterparts, high performers are three times as likely to assess employees’ ways of thinking, four times as likely to use assessments of cognitive styles to help teams function better, and nearly three times as likely to assess employees’ work behavior styles. Three-fifths of higher-performing culture organizations (59%) think “everyone” is accountable for managing culture, compared with just 16% of lower-performing organizations. Culture typically has a long history that often begins with a top-down approach and evolves over time. The alignment of senior leadership, line managers and HR are all necessary to keep an organization’s culture stays on track. And, by giving employees responsibility for maintaining the culture, it is more likely that they will become invested and feel responsible for helping the organization live up to its values. To learn much more about the survey on Creating Great Corporate Cultures and to get strategic insights and key takeaways, we encourage you to read the full report HERE.*Higher-performing culture organizations, which we will label high performers, represent those HR professionals who indicate that their organization manages culture either “very successfully” or “successfully.” **Lower-performing culture organizations, which we will label lower performers, represent those HR professionals from organizations who indicate that their organization manage culture either “not very successfully” or “not successful at all.”