Research: How to prepare for the future of workplace culture

Address where your culture and strategy clash, ensure your execs are hearing raw opinions, and commit to long-term change.

The future of workplace culture

Employees’ expectations and preferences about workplace culture are changing, but most leaders are proceeding as though everything’s just dandy.

According to research published by Strategy&, the chasm of mistrust, misunderstanding and misaligned objectives between workers and execs is causing a “culture clash” that could undermine your workforce’s productivity.

As the report states, “A whopping 80 percent of our respondents say their organization’s culture must evolve in the next five years for their company to succeed, grow and retain the best people.”

Whether you’re keen to shake free from a stale status quo or attempting a cultural overhaul, Strategy&’s report offers five actions for doing so, including:

  • Address where your culture and strategy clash. Sixty-five percent of respondents agreed that “culture is more important to performance than an organization’s strategy or operating model.” However, just as a swimmer needs two arms to efficiently glide forward, culture and strategy must function in concert to achieve success. As the report states:

For the influence of culture to translate into real business results, culture, strategy and operations must be aligned.

  • Change your listening tours. Many execs live in a bubble. They’re surrounded by people who are afraid to share honest opinions, so they think everything at the company is hunky-dory. Strategy& suggests popping the executive bubble by collecting better, rawer feedback. As the report states:

It takes more than ordinary listening to get a true understanding of the culture at your organization. Instead, challenge and foster healthy debate and real feedback from people across departments and across levels. Connect with people who are emotionally astute and who have insight into what people care about most.

  • Commit to culture as a continual, collaborative effort. You can’t change a culture overnight. The report says:

Influencing culture is hard, and most leaders declare victory too soon. It can’t be a “one-off” project, nor can it be implemented top-down. Prepare to persevere through obstacles if you want long-term, sustainable change. The more ambitious the effort, the more time and more input from people at all levels it will demand.

Read more about Strategy&’s workplace culture survey results here.

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