The most used people metric by organisations is employee engagement. Unfortunately, there are several issues with this metric. It lacks a consistently defined meaning, provides little to no understanding of current state organisational culture, it doesn’t provide insight into causation, and is a poor predictor of individual or organisational performance.
Direct experience in working with clients across many different organisations and industries tells us that people can express strong motivation and commitment to their work by virtue of the outcomes or impact they are able to achieve through their efforts while negatively experiencing the workplace culture.
High performance is possible in an organisation with a culture that is riddled with hazardous behaviours and norms, for a period. Sooner or later, for companies with untamed cultures, issues will begin to surface and manifest in ways that negatively affect the employee and customer experience, followed by business results and reputation damage.
The risk for organisations who rely on engagement scores to keep a finger on the pulse is a lack of insight into the cultural factors that are indicative of how people experience work and that which predict future performance of individuals and the business.
The business world at large, with some exceptions, has been very reactionary to organisational culture matters. This needs to change. The recent amendment to legislation, as per the Respect at Work Bill 2022, highlights the need to shift from a complaints-based model that responds to misconduct, to the adoption of a proactive and preventative approach by organisations investing in measures that eliminate bad behaviours – this starts with workplace culture.
This means organisations need to make a concerted effort to understand their culture to have the confidence that they are providing employees with conditions that enable them to do their best work in a safe and supportive environment.
There is still a significant gap in the understanding of what impacts the experience people have at work and how this translates to the financial and non-financial outcomes achieved by organisations. These are not mutually exclusive.
This is a call to action for Australian company leaders to invest in organisational culture to demonstrate their commitment to the people that make up their highly valued workforce, and ultimately put their business in a stronger position to achieve success.
Connect with HENRY REED to enhance your employee experience through culture and leadership:
P: 1300 266 995
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