Corporate Culture has outgrown being a buzzword in HR circles. Now, it holds a much more important title as being the single best predictor of employee satisfaction, ranking ahead of
compensation and work-life balance. In fact, according to a recent article by Donald and Charles Sull in the MIT Sloan Management Review, almost two-thirds of employees listed corporate culture as being among the most important reasons why they would stay with their current employer – or start looking for another job.

With a talent market that is now truly international and ever more competitive, employers will need to pay far more attention to a sound corporate culture to retain talent. However, in a field so wide as culture, where should employers be focusing their resources?

Sull and Sull’s study wanted to name the elements of corporate culture that matter most to employees, and hence, are the best places to aim for employers. This is what they found:

  1. Employees want to feel respected.
    Employees value being treated with consideration, courtesy, and dignity, with their perspectives being taken seriously.
  2. Employees want Supportive leaders.
    Leaders who help employees do their work, respond to requests, accommodate employees’ individual needs, offer encouragement, and have their backs are considered integral parts of
    the corporate culture.
  3. Employees want Leaders who live core values.
    Leaders’ whose actions are consistent with the organization’s values have highly positive reactions from employees.
  4. Employees don’t want Toxic managers.
    Leaders who create a poisonous work environment are described in extremely negative terms.
  5. Employees don’t want Unethical behaviour.
    Managers and employees who lack integrity and act in an unethical manner are considered highly detrimental to the culture.
  6. Employees want Benefits.
    Employees’ assessment of all employer-provided benefits has a strong effect on culture.
  7. Employees want Perks.
    Employees’ assessment of workplace amenities and perks was a strong indicator of culture.
  8. Employees want Learning and development.
    Employees’ assessment of opportunities for formal and informal learning informed how positive they believed the culture to be.
  9. Employees want Job security.
    Perceived job security, including fear of layoffs, offshoring, and automation had a large effect on culture.
  10. Employees do not want too many Reorganizations.
    How employees view reorganizations, including frequency and quality was an indicator of how positive or negative the corporate culture was.

Of these elements, the following were found to be the most important, with respect leading with
almost double the perceived importance from the second-place leadership:

  1. Employees want to feel respected
  2. Employees want Supportive Leadership
  3. Employees want Job Security
  4. Employees want their Leaders to Live Core Values
  5. Employees want Benefits

What was interesting was that respect for employees varied by industry. For example, in industries
with a large number of front-line employees – including restaurants, retailing etc., workers were
more likely to mention respect and talk about it in negative terms than were employees in other

Overall, the study is a helpful indication of what is shaping the future of organisations: corporate
culture. If employers want their employees to flourish and retain the best talent, corporate culture
needs to be managed more intentionally.

With that in mind, KR has done extensive research in compiling the upcoming Designing
Organisational Cultures for Disruptive and Difficult Times Seminar on 13 October 2021.
With international speakers such as:

  • Kevin Oakes, CEO and co-founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), the
    leading authority on next practices in human capital
  • Dr Derek Newberry, Leadership and Organizational Transformation Consultant – Adjunct
    Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania
  • Loes Bresseleers, Head of HR, Switzerland, Johnson & Johnson

Have a look at our brochure for more information, we’d love to see you there!

Sull, D., & Sull, C. (2021, September 16). MIT Sloan Management Review. Retrieved from