In the battle for employee loyalty, engagement is often perceived by HR and internal comms pros to be a key differentiator. But as new UK-based research from employee comms platform Speakap indicates, culture trumps engagement and has far more damaging consequences for employee satisfaction, workplace relationships, and loyalty.
For example, when asked to choose between working 60 hours per week and working for a company that doesn’t value culture, nearly half (42 percent) of the surveyed respondents reported that they would gladly work the longer hours than sacrifice culture. Plus, 58 percent said they would take a job with a competing company if the new company had a better culture than the current one.
“The sad fact of the matter is that many companies today mistake physical perks and amenities as being a critical part of workplace culture. But they simply are not,” said Patrick Van Der Mijl, co-founder and chief product officer of Speakap, in a news release. “Culture is the sum of a company’s values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors and attitudes. By focusing only on providing superficial perks, such as free lunches/snacks/beverages, ping pong and/or foosball tables, video games, yoga and social outings/events, companies are proving that they don’t understand what culture truly means, how it should be activated and how it can positively (and negatively) impact the employee experience.”
Key findings from the study include:
To build a strong culture, emphasize respect, fairness, trust and integrity over transactional engagement
When respondents were asked to specify the most important attribute of a strong culture, the following attributes ranked highest—respect and fairness (45 percent), trust and integrity (24 percent) and teamwork (8 percent).
Companies are too stuck in their ways when it comes to culture improvements
Thirty-four percent of respondents said their company is stuck in its ways and isn’t open to suggested improvements to culture.
Pre-boarding is the new on-boarding
When asked what makes them feel connected to a company’s culture during the first 30 days, 22 percent said being invited to join an employee communications app and communicate with colleagues before the first day of work, and another 21 percent reported being assigned a buddy/mentor prior to the first day.
Job guidance, positive recognition and shift/schedule flexibility go a long way to motivate employees long-term
When asked what makes them feel connected to a company’s culture after the first 30 days, 25 percent said ongoing job guidance and support, while 19 percent cited positive recognition and rewards and 13 percent said shift/schedule flexibility has a similar effect.
Workplace relationships are the lifeline of culture and engagement
Ninety-three percent said having a positive working relationship with their manager is either very important or important. Yet, 14 percent admitted that they don’t have a positive relationship with their direct/line manager.
“While the study’s findings clearly indicate a culture problem exists within many organizations, there is an upside. Employee communications platforms can be a vital tool in helping to make employees feel connected to both the company culture and fellow colleagues across the entire organization,” said Van Der Mijl. “This can lead to stronger workplace relationships, increased collaboration, more personal fulfilment and a greater sense of loyalty for employees—that means less turnover for companies.”
Speakap surveyed over 1,000 employees in the United States and the United Kingdom to understand the various embodiments of culture within organizations, the ways in which companies communicate culture (and any changes to it) and the positive and negative impacts of culture on employee satisfaction, workplace relationships and loyalty. The survey was fielded in April 2019 and targeted employees across a variety of business categories, including retail, hospitality, entertainment, manufacturing, construction and consumer packaged goods.