As leaders tackle a long list of business challenges post-pandemic, organizational culture can be a powerful ally
In the second edition of our Katzenbach Global Culture Survey, we have asked 3,200 employees from more than 50 countries about the role of corporate culture in their organization and how their culture was impacted by Covid-19. The overall results show that strong cultures drive better business outcomes, with the majority of senior leaders crediting much of their success, resilience, as well as competitive advantage during the pandemic to culture. During a challenging year that involved major transformational changes for companies around the world, 55% of survey respondents assessed culture as even more important than strategy or operations.
Additionally, our analysis revealed a widening gap between what senior leaders say about culture and what their employees experience. However, as rapid transformation can be achieved with a targeted focus on a few critical behaviors, it is possible to close this gap by putting organizational culture on a company’s list of business imperatives.
In general, corporate culture tends to be stronger in the USA, China, or India in comparison with the global average and by an even more sizeable margin than in Europe or Japan. This can be seen across the following dimensions:
“The ongoing changes in supply and production chains should put agile planning and quick decision-making on the top of every CEO agenda. Companies who want to remain at the top have to draw the right lessons from the current crisis and consistently transform their organization to address external shocks and secure sustainable competitive advantages.”
Europe as a whole is below average when it comes to enabling change. With regard to the busines impact of Covid-19, the global pandemic hit Switzerland hard, based on the reported drop in business volume, employee headcount, and employee satisfaction. Conversely, German respondents report a less drastic impact from Covid-19 in terms of profit and revenues, employee headcount and business volume.
Covid-19 is also seen to make quick decisions harder in Germany and Switzerland, compared to the European average. However, Germany and Switzerland see less of a need to change as a consequence of the pandemic, compared to the rest of Europe or the world.
The top areas perceived for improvement in Germany and Switzerland are in line with the global average, putting emphasis on talent recruiting and retention, collaboration, as well as digitization, while also considering quality as an area for improvement.
For the past 25 years, the Katzenbach Center, the institute for culture, leadership and teaming at Strategy&, has been studying the influence of culture on business success. We define culture as “the self-sustaining pattern of behavior that determines how things are done.” This year, we asked workers to reflect on their experiences in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. The results show that, for some, organizational culture was the hero of their pandemic story. By reflecting on lessons learned during the pandemic, business leaders can glean insights that will carry them forward.
The Global Culture Survey was conducted online March 1 - 26, 2021. A business panel was used across 15 countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and the US). Participants from these and other territories were also invited to complete the survey through a registration process. In total, 3,243 surveys were completed from 43 countries.