Why Can't Companies Agree Who Defines the Culture?

Why Can’t Companies Agree Who Defines the Culture?

Don’t be surprised if job candidates ask about company culture before they even schedule an interview. Unfortunately, a study from The Workforce Institute at Kronos sheds light on the growing disconnect between HR, managers, and employees on who is actually responsible for defining what the culture is.

Workplaces of mixed expectations

The Workforce Institute polled around 1,800 employees, HR professionals, and managers about workplace culture, and the picture that emerged is muddy. When asked who defines the company culture, 33 percent of HR professionals said it was their department, 26 percent of managers said that it was the executive team, and 29 percent of employees said it was the nonmanagement employees. It’s starting to sound like too many cooks are in the company culture kitchen.

Differing visions of what the company is and where it’s going can cause tension within companies, especially when no one expressly states these values. To combat these misunderstandings effectively, leadership teams should clearly express the company mission, vision, and values. Expositional material like this is great for onboarding lessons assigned to new employees as they join a company.

Undecided on important matters

Unsurprisingly, the survey found that employees, HR professionals, and managers all saw a self-serving attribute as the most important piece of a company culture. For employees, “pay” was the most important part of culture, whereas managers and HR professionals preferred “managers and executives leading by example.” A similar disconnect occurred between all three groups on the question of “What kills company culture?”

Employees felt that “not having enough staff to support goals,” “unhappy/disengaged workers who poison the well,” and “poor employee/manager relationships” were the major obstacles to maintaining a positive workplace culture.

While Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute, called these gaps in agreement “surprising, and frankly alarming,” forward-thinking can fix them.

Communication solves these problems

Defining a company’s mission, vision, and values won’t mean much if managers don’t properly convey them to employees as they’re hired. Likewise, employees can’t lament about lack of changes for their important values if they don’t express what’s wrong. Luckily, these efforts showed in the study from The Workforce Institute:

HR professionals and managers indicated that using technology across the organization to improve communication and efficiency, and paying closer attention to feedback from younger employees were critical components to evolving culture to remain relevant when recruiting.

Lessonly excels in providing learning software where companies can build their culture. Managers and HR professionals can use it to gather feedback from employees on what’s most important to them, resulting in quality feedback straight from the source. Many clients use Lessonly to democratize their learning, allowing employees to choose the topics that they know the most about, or want to know the most about, and create content around that.

In the end, this type of back-and-forth dialogue between managers and employees truly builds company culture. Get started working on your own company culture by taking a self-guided tour. Sign up today.

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December 2016 Release: Empowering Feedback in Your Learning Program