Employees, Execs Disagree on Role of Social Media in Building Workplace Culture
June 14, 2012 — As social media continues to alter how people connect personally and professionally, its effect on building culture in the workplace is debatable, according to the "Core Values and Beliefs" survey from Deloitte, conducted online by Harris Interactive. Examining perspectives on culture and business strategy, 41% of executives participating in the study believe social networking helps build and maintain workplace culture, while only 21% of employees share that view.
Moreover, business leaders and employees widely differ on whether social media has a positive effect on workplace culture (45% and 27%, respectively) or allows for increased management transparency (38% and 17%, respectively).
"Our research suggests executives are possibly using social media as a crutch in building workplace culture and appearing accessible to employees," said Punit Renjen, chairmen of the board, Deloitte LLP, who commissioned the survey. "While business leaders should recognize how people communicate today, particularly Millennials, they must keep in mind the limits of these technologies. The norms for cultivating culture have not changed, and require managers to build trust through face-to-face meetings, live phone calls and personal messages."
The majority of respondents indicated that culture is important to business success. However, the study indicates executives tend to prioritize a clearly defined business strategy (76%) above clearly defined and communicated core values and beliefs (62%), whereas employees value them equally (57% and 55%, respectively). Renjen believes this suggests business leaders should be looking at their organizations through a wider lens and considering both sides of the ledger: core values and beliefs as well as strategy as essentially to long-term sustainability.
"Leadership changes and evolving marketplace conditions can significantly impact business strategy," Renjen said. "To be an exceptional organization in today's business climate, organizations must articulate, invest in and nurture workplace culture now more than ever. If properly supported, it will transcend any environmental shifts and serve as the foundation for organizational sustainability and growth."
The research shows a correlation between employees who say their companies have a clearly articulated and lived culture and those who are "happy at work" and feel "valued by their company." Additionally, they indicated that their organizations have a "history of strong business performance."
In considering the elements of workplace culture, executives rank competitive compensation (62%) and financial performance (65%) among the top factors influencing culture on the job. Conversely, employees say the intangibles — regular and candid communication (50%) and access to management (47%) — outweigh the tangibles — compensation (33%) and financial performance (24%).
The study also points out differences in the degree to which executives and employees perceive culture as being expressed in their organizations — with executives generally giving their organizations stronger scores.
"Leaders who understand the importance of the intangible elements contributing to workplace culture become sensitive to what makes their organization truly special," Renjen said. "That is how they define core values and beliefs that are unique, simple, leader-led, repetitive and embedded — transforming themselves from good to exceptional."
Harris Interactive fielded the employee survey online in the United States on behalf of Deloitte from March 5 to 8, 2012, interviewing a nationwide sample of 1,005 U.S. residents ages 18 years and older who are employed full time in a company with 100 or more employees. Company size was weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the larger universe of employers in the United States. Harris also conducted the survey within the United States between Feb. 27 and March 9, 2012 among a total of 303 corporate executives. Company revenue and number of employees were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions of the larger universe of companies with revenue of $1 billion or more.