Company Culture Dilemma: Getting Execs & Employees on the Same Page

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Frequent readers of my blog know I write often about the importance of a strong company culture, especially one based on recognition.

But how important is culture to a company’s success? And do employees and executives agree on the relative importance of culture?

Thanks to a recent survey from Deloitte, we know that yes, they do agree.

How do we “live” out the company culture?

Some “94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.”

In fact, executives and managers alike agree on the importance of culture to organization success, as evidenced by these results from the survey:

  • 83 percent of executives and 84 percent of employees rank having engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s success.
  • There is a correlation between employees who say they are “happy at work” and feel “valued by [their] company” and those who say their organization has a clearly articulated and lived culture.
  • There is a correlation between clearly articulated and lived culture and strong business performance.

And yet, Only 19 percent of executives and 15 percent of employees believe strongly that their culture is widely upheld within their own organizations.”

Therein lies the rub. If we all agree that culture is critical success, how is it that we cannot seem to figure out how to live out that culture?

Perhaps it’s because executives and employees do not agree on what factors most impact a culture. Keep in mind, it’s these factors that make it possible to “live” and uphold the culture broadly throughout the organization.

Factors that most impact culture

  • No. 1 Factor: Executives say financial performance (65 percent), but employees say it’s regular and candid communication (50 percent);
  • No. 2 Factor: Executives say its competitive compensation (62 percent), while employees say it is employee recognition (49 percent) or access to management (47 percent)

It’s also not at all surprising that the factors executives consider to be most important ranked among the lowest for employees.

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Indeed, what’s most needed is to get executives and employees on the same priorities page. Instead of focusing so much on “competitive compensation,” perhaps executives should insist on fair pay structures and then more effectively use that budget to fund a strategic employee recognition program.

And yes, financial performance is inarguably important, but success can only be achieved when all employees are pulling in the same direction.

Recognize and reward them when they live your values in contribution to achieving your financial performance objectives. This gives them regular communication on what matters most to executives.

What do you think is most important to culture?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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