Six key aspects of workplace culture that need attention


Purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing and leadership are crucial in attracting and retaining talent.

Organisations are working hard to improve their workplace culture, so as to create a great employee experience, to attract the best talent and also retain them. Attracting and retaining talent has become a big challenge today. Companies are investing huge resources to improve their workplace culture. They have introduced wellness programmes, leave policies for new parents, bereavement leave, and so on to attract talent. But do they know for sure that their investment is actually improving the culture?

They first need to know the fundamental building blocks for a successful workplace culture and then act upon them.

A survey by OC Tanner, has identified six aspects of great workplace culture, which every employee looks for in an organisation. These key features are—purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing and leadership.

Purpose: Purpose means connecting employees to the organisation’s reason for existence or the difference it makes in the world. People long to connect to something bigger and more important than themselves. Organisations need to connect the ‘why’ of their organisation to the goals, longing for meaning, and desire to have an impact that live inside every employee, which is where most organisations fail.

Of the employees surveyed, 71 per cent said that their organisation has a clear purpose and 62 per cent think their organisation positively affects the lives of others. 63 per cent believe that their organisation makes a social impact. Surprisingly, 40 per cent think their organisation only cares about its profit and only 54 per cent of the respondents say their organisation’s purpose motivates them.

Opportunity: Opportunity means providing employees the ability to learn new skills, develop, and contribute. Most of the organisations equate opportunity with only promotion and career path, but this is not the true meaning of opportunity for an employee. There are other aspects, besides promotion.

The survey found that, 59 per cent of the employees surveyed believe there is a ceiling of advancement for them within their current organisation. Only 55 per cent of the employees agree that they regularly learn new, valuable things in their current role, whereas 44 per cent feel stagnant or stuck. Around 50 per cent admit their skills are underutilised in their present capacity. Also, only 55 percent of employees have seen personal growth in their organisation.

Success: Success means giving employees the opportunity to innovate, do meaningful work, and be on winning teams. Employees fell most successful when an they expand the influence of their job, go beyond what is expected, and purposefully create improvements that benefit others.

The survey found that only 46 per cent of the employees say that working for their organisation is like playing for a winning team. Around 42 percent of the employees believe when they reach a goal, it goes unnoticed. Also, 22 per cent of the employees say their organisation rarely sets goals.

Appreciation: Appreciation means acknowledging and recognising employees’ outstanding work, talent and unique contributions. Employees can be formally and informally recognised. Peers and leaders can verbally praise employees’ achievements and celebrate.

The survey found that 50 per cent of the employees believe their organisation takes them and other employees for granted. Only 43 per cent of the employees think their organisation rewards high- performing employees. Also, one in three employees think they don’t receive enough acknowledgement from their team members. 36 per cent of employees rarely recognise each other when great work is done. Surprisingly, only 51 per cent say the recognition they receive is authentic and sincere.

Wellbeing: Wellbeing means paying attention to and constantly working to improve employees’ physical, social, emotional, and financial health. We know that work creates negative stress in an employee’s life. So, taking care of employees is very important to make them productive. Employees want to be treated as people not just as means for the organisation to make profit.

The survey found that only 50 per cent of the employees think wellbeing is a strong part of their organisation’s culture. Further, only 58 per cent of the employees say their job allow them to balance their work and personal life. Around, 36 percent believe their situation at work is hurting their ability to be happy in other aspects of their life. Besides, more than one in three employees say their job has a negative effect on their physical health.

Leadership: Leadership means connecting employees to purpose, empowering them to excel, and creating a sense of camaraderie. The survey has found that a large number of employees do not trust their direct managers and senior leaders. Also, many leaders are not successful in motivating employees, sharing responsibilities, advocating their employees, deriving passion and commitment.
More than one in four employees do not trust their direct manager and 35 per cent do not trust senior leaders at their organisation. One in three employees say their direct managers do not know the people on their teams as individuals, and that they are all seen as just workers. Around 31 per cent of employees do not trust their direct managers to stand up for them or have their back.

Employees surveyed used a common term ‘stress’ to describe their organisation’s culture. A lot of employees were not satisfied with their current workplace culture. On an average, employees rate their current workplace culture at 65 on a 100-point scale. This means, there is still great scope for organisations to improve their culture.

Organisations that marginally improve in each of these six areas see dramatic developments in recruiting, engagement, tenure, satisfaction, and other business metrics, such as revenue growth and expansion.

The survey was done among 10,000 full-time employees working for mid-to large-sized companies, between the ages of 25 and 50 years. The study covered India, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, UK, Germany, South Africa, China, Japan, Singapore, Australia and the US.


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