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Buying Into Culture

Aside from the benefits of employee engagement and retention, does a great company culture also drive more business? According to a new study, it does.

In a recent study, Fortune Knowledge Group partnered with advertising agency gyro in “Beyond the Brand: Why Business Decision-Makers Buy Into Strong Cultures,” which found that companies want to work with others that have a strong culture.

In June, the two companies contacted 500 companies, finding some strong arguments for a strong company culture. The results listed in the study show that 60 percent of executives polled indicated that “knowing what a company stands for is much more important than choosing a corporate partner that is innovative (21 percent) or dominates the market (20 percent).” In addition, 60 percent are supporting “companies that are trying to do what’s right, even when it doesn’t maximize revenue.”

That sounds great and all, but I find this hard to believe. Why would a company not want to maximize its revenue? Maybe the good PR companies can put out makes up for that gap in revenue?

This research’s summary only recently was released, and the rest of the data will be ready for our eyes this fall. In the meantime, let’s look more at the findings.

“The value of culture in attracting talent and creating internal alignment has been known for years,” the research summary said. “But new research suggests that the same attributes are equally likely to make a company desirable to work as to work for.”

The executive summary I found through Adweek’s website doesn’t really poll based on what they think “culture” is. It’s only at the beginning of the study, in a note from the publisher of Fortune, that culture is defined, listing the Merriam-Webster definition of “a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business).”

The summary simply said that “a company’s mission statement is the clearest articulation of those values,” and 98 percent of those polled think that having a mission statement is beneficial. Only 2 percent polled said a mission statement is a “distraction from things that matter most in business.”

I think we can all agree that those 2 percent should rethink their stance here. However, I doubt that just having a good mission statement really does much for a workforce. Yes, I agree that a mission statement is “the clearest articulation of those values,” but to truly know what a workplace culture is — and if that mission statement is reflected — requires more than looking at the statement. Learning about a company’s culture takes time.

Putting together a well-written paragraph that sounds good can be a good guideline for the company, but it’s the leadership that would be responsible for making it a reality within their walls.

This article was originally published in Chief Learning Officer's sister publication, Talent Management.