How is company culture and employee engagement related?

The importance of culture and engagement


The importance of organisational culture and employee engagement to the health of a company can’t be understated. Those who have benefited from team leader training will understand the value culture brings, and the benefits it can have on engagement.

That said, I think there is sometimes confusion as to what the difference between culture and engagement is. What do the two terms mean and how are they related?

What is organisational culture?

Organisational culture is the same as the culture of a country, just on a much smaller scale. It describes the values of the firm, the expectations for the way employees behave, the goals and purpose of the company and the general mood that permeates the office environment. It’s all the things that make up the company environment, from the way meetings in the office take place to how employees are recognised and incentivised.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is all about how employees feel about the company and the work they do. When employees are engaged, they feel connected to the work they’re doing and have something of a personal stake in the output and actions of the business. The best way I can describe an engaged employee is what gets them out of bed in the morning is not the knowledge that the office they’ll soon head to is a place to earn a paycheck, but rather, the fact that they feel their work has purpose and they enjoy it.

Is your office culture fostering or hindering employee engagement?Is your office culture fostering or hindering employee engagement?

More than twice as many workers are motivated by passion for their work than career ambition, according to Deloitte Insights. They feel their work has meaning and doing it is a great deal of the reward itself. These workers buy into the company’s mission, share its values and embody its behaviours.

Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform other firms in their industries by 147 per cent in terms of earnings per share

As incredible as engaged employees are, they are unfortunately quite rare. The overall statistics on engagement are bleak, with a shocking 87 per cent of employees around the globe disengaged from their work, according to a Gallup poll. The opportunity costs (let alone the explicit costs) of this are huge. Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform other firms in their industries by 147 per cent in terms of earnings per share, the same Gallup poll reports.

How are the two related?

In short, strong employee engagement is a result of a strong company culture. When a company’s culture is positive, supportive and encouraging, employees tend to buy in to the values and beliefs of the company more than when this positive culture is absent. I think that one the many upsides to taking leadership training is its ability to teach managers how to create and foster healthy company cultures. When this is done, the chances of more employees becoming engaged is greatly increased.

It should be noted, too, that a positive company culture isn’t always a necessary condition for high employee engagement. You can imagine an organisation whose culture is not the best but whose work is so meaningful that the employees are engaged anyway – picture a poorly run charity whose employees do not find the culture of the organisation particularly healthy or grateful, but nonetheless are engaged in and love their work because they can see all the good it does. It’s fair to say this is probably a rare occurrence, but it’s important to acknowledge that employee engagement isn’t just a matter of having a positive organisational culture – the work itself needs to be engaging and meaningful too.

Are you looking to improve your organisational culture and boost employee engagement? Get in touch with ICML today to learn more about our management training courses.

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