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Managing — and measuring — workplace culture

Source | : By Pamela DeLoatch

Workplace culture — where employee behavior meets business outcomes — changes constantly. Think about it: as employees come and go, each brings or takes their beliefs and behaviors. As company or departmental goals change and as industry landscapes shift, workplace culture changes in response.

But when it comes to larger culture overhauls, the driving force is usually one of three situations, says Shawn Overcast, partner at Gotham Culture, a boutique consulting firm: An event, such as a sexual harassment or fraud scandal; a change in leadership, market strategy or a merger or acquisition; or a desire to continue work that’s going well.

This means that managing culture requires a two-fold approach: those responsible for implementation must keep an eye on the day-to-day shifts while also being able to lead a shift to a new culture when necessary. They also need to be able to measure culture to understand whether initiatives are working.

The growing need to manage culture

Workforce trends — both internal and external — are making culture management an imperative. Digital transformation, for example, affects every organization, and is one of the great drivers of culture change. In addition to that disruption, businesses face increased global competition, a need to be agile and a war for talented employees, including those that are part of a new generation with their own ideas about how work should look.

For ongoing culture management, business leaders need to identify how culture can align with and support the business’ goals. “They really have to ask if what we’re offering today is relevant to the company we have or aspire to be,” says Christa Degnan Manning, vice president, solution provider research, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting. Culture change is not just something that happens, she says. “Every company has a culture. They must identify the culture they want and continuously work on that.”

Another key requirement for ongoing culture management is good employee engagement  — a factor studies have shown many businesses lack. When employees want to work collaboratively, be innovative and meet business objectives, culture maintenance becomes easier.

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