How does organisational culture affect employees?

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July 21, 2021

As an organisation grows, it will begin to establish its own unique ‘culture’. This is usually an amalgamation of the specific expectations, values and practices that help an organisation stand out in the market. 

When you think of company culture as an organisation’s ‘character’, you can understand its influence on employees. When an employee is truly ‘engaged’, they have a vested interest in driving the organisation forward and value their place within their company’s culture. Therefore, a positive company culture will work wonders for productivity, motivation and staff retention. Conversely, a negative culture will over time taint every aspect of a company’s structure and output. According to a 2020 study, 1 in 5 British workers will quit a job due to toxic work culture.

In this article, we’ll be delving into the varied ways in which a company’s culture manifests itself in employee performance and behaviour.`

How does a business's corporate culture affect employee satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction is a measurable metric of how happy employees are in their role and work environment, and whether they feel that their desires are being met. A high level of employee satisfaction can be attributed to things such as regular reward and recognition, a competitive salary, and a consistent skills development program. 

While it is always beneficial for employees to be self-motivated, leaders and HR managers should be proactive in increasing employee satisfaction. A corporate culture that focuses on recognising and actively supporting employees’ specific needs will have a higher level of employee satisfaction. The more satisfied employees are, the more likely they are to actively engage with both their work and an organisation’s wider goals. Satisfied employees have been found to increase organisational productivity by 21%. 

By contrast, an organisational culture that does not prioritise employee satisfaction is more likely to suffer from low productivity and high turnover. In a 2016 study by Gallup, weak organisational culture is linked to poor job satisfaction and disengagement, with just 8% of British employees feeling actively engaged at work.

Employee satisfaction is a measurable metric, and one-way leadership can measure employee satisfaction is through surveys. These can cover issues such as expectations from management, relations between team members, perceptions of empowerment and career opportunities, levels of employee stress, and the quality of communications.

We recommend that leaders use numerical scoring or ‘yes/no questions’ where possible. This will provide them with quantifiable results that can be accurately measured over time. In particular, quantifiable results also allow you to accurately measure the impact of any new projects or initiatives designed to increase employee satisfaction.

The impact of organisational culture on employee motivation

Employee motivation is a measurement of the drive or enthusiasm an employee has to carry out their role to the best of their ability. While every employee has different specific motivations, there are broader commonalities that organisations can address, creating multiple strategies to motivate employees and drive performance.

Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic, and managers need to understand both to create a balanced and effective approach to employee motivation. ‘Intrinsic’ motivation factors reflect your employees’ inner needs and values, like their drive to succeed and feel valued at work. ‘Extrinsic’ motivation factors, however, centre around external rewards such as recognition, incentives and commission. Leaders looking to create a ‘motivational culture’ in their organisation need to consider both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators on both an individual and company-wide level.

In particular, regular reward and recognition is a powerful motivator. In many studies, including this research from Gallup, recognition is one of the most effective means of driving motivation. It is not only low in cost, but it’s also high in returns - especially when it comes from a high leadership level. Employees who don’t feel recognised and rewarded for their work are twice as likely to leave their jobs, while those that get regular positive feedback are more likely to give their best in the workplace.

Again, these are measurable metrics that can be monitored through quantitative methods. For this to work, however, employees need to be able to give honest feedback that can be turned into actionable insights. Again, surveys are a useful tool. But they shouldn’t be relied on too much, as leaders cannot guarantee all responses are either truthful or fully representative of company-wide attitudes. 

That’s why at Totem, we use an in-depth, scalable form of sentiment analysis. This involves using Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools to analyse the words employees use in surveys, emails and other workplace communication. This means managers can measure widespread attitudes towards work without having to sift through stacks of data.

Once leaders can map motivation metrics, they can begin implementing programs to address areas of concern. These can include recognition programs, financial reward programs, career pathing programs, and more – all based on feedback from employees. This makes employees feel heard while helping to refine organisational culture to better align with employee values and motivations.

Organizational culture and employee performance and behaviour

Employee performance and behaviour indicates how a member of staff fulfils their roles and duties, as well as their attitudes in the workplace. Evaluating performance is a key process for many organisations in deciding raises and rewards, amongst others. What is often left out is that employees do not perform in isolation – their performance must be evaluated in light of the impact of organisational culture. An employee who feels as though their organisation values them recognises their achievements, is respectful of their values, and creates opportunities for them to succeed is going to perform at their absolute best.

If you want to have a clear idea not only of current performance but also of how changes in company culture can improve performance, it’s essential to evaluate your organisational culture and see how it supports or fails to support performance. It’s not just about determining bonuses and raises or criticising workplace behaviours but also finding areas where the organisation could assist an employee in improving their performance and creating a positive attitude. To make this happen, organisational culture needs to embrace values like curiosity, learning, employee support and development, and openness to feedback from employees and teams.

Feedback from employees is key here too, and employees must feel able to freely express their views and improve their work environment. For instance, do employees feel that they have the right tools to get the task completed? Are there any limiting factors or bottlenecks that hinder their productivity? Do they feel actively supported and valued by those in positions of leadership? Answering these questions is the starting point for identifying common patterns and areas of improvement in organisational culture.

Make measuring organisational culture easy with Totem

Measuring how organisational culture affects employees is complex and often time-consuming. But the rewards of a positive culture are certainly worth the time and energy. That being said, there are ways to make this process more refined. Not only can the data be collected faster, but the insights can be richer and more representative of how employees really feel about their place of work. This is where Totem comes in.

Totem is a workplace culture app that allows you to collect and analyse actionable data regarding employee performance and organisational culture, without the need to develop your own surveys.

Our Culture Insights offers in-depth corporate culture analytics so managers can measure organisational culture, just like they would revenue or turnover. We use language analysis and machine learning to discover how employees interact, how candid and honest they are with each other, and who they believe to be influential forces within their company culture.

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