Do You Think Organizational Culture Is Too ‘Soft?’ Think Again.

We hear it all the time. Organizational culture is too ‘soft,’ too difficult to measure and just doesn’t impact the bottom line. One of our Twitter connections shared that they overheard a Fortune 500 executive say, “Culture is too fuzzy for me. We’ll never have a Chief Culture Officer.”

Well, Mr./Mrs. Fortune 500 Executive, you’re missing out. I’ve seen first-hand the impact culture can have on employee engagement, retention, quality of hire, sales—the list goes on. While some success measurements may have an indirect connection to the bottom line, culture (positive or negative) can still make a tremendous impact on your organization. Which is why I’d like to share the recent impact culture has had on employee engagement in my own organization.

My own experience with measuring the impact of culture

As Amy Osorio has been sharing throughout her blog series, we recently embarked on our own journey to authentically express our EVP and cultural brand. Once created, we developed a detailed rollout plan, including site visits, internal communications, swag/collateral, recruiter training and more.

We received such positive feedback throughout our entire rollout campaign that we decided to validate the feedback with data by surveying a smaller group of employees, commonly known as a pulse survey. After all the effort we put into building, executing and communicating the new cultural brand, we wanted to understand whether or not this was truly making an impact on our workforce.

What we found blew us away. Our employee engagement index jumped 10 percentage points from 2015 to 2016. To anyone not in the employee survey world, a 10-point jump does not happen often. Many survey clients are ecstatic over a one-or two-point increase. Perhaps what is most exciting was the dramatic increase in engagement metrics across the board.

So what does this mean? Yes, it is statistically significant and this dramatic shift in metrics is unusual. Yet, it means so much more than that. People are more committed and satisfied with their work. Even more exciting is that employees have greater pride in their work and the company. So much so, we even had a leap in employees that would recommend IBM Talent Acquisition & Optimization as a place to work. While several factors play a role in employee engagement, no one could dismiss the impact our EVP and cultural brand has had on our employee engagement. Employees have a stronger understanding of our culture, a stronger awareness of our EVP, and feel that they are a stronger cultural fit than before.

The notion that ‘organizational culture is too soft’ and has no effect on the bottom line is laughable. Employees today have higher expectations of their employer. Simply having a competitive compensation and benefits package is not good enough anymore. People want to work at a place where they are appreciated, where they fit culturally and where they can have an impact on the work they do, while having a little fun along the way. Couple this with how quickly a toxic work culture is shared on the Internet and it is impossible to dismiss organizational culture and the impact it has on a company’s bottom line. Don’t believe me? Find a company with a poor organizational culture and chances are you just found a company struggling with recruiting top candidates, low employee engagement, and a poor retention rate.

After a small, yet meaningful investment in our organizational culture, we experienced a 10-point jump in our employee engagement index from 2015 to 2016. If your company experienced a 10-point increase in employee engagement, I suspect you would not have any issues with your bottom line. Or is that still too ‘fuzzy?’ I didn’t think so.

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