How Cultural Alignment Enables Continuity

Cultural continuity is an important aspect of wider business continuity that has sometimes been overlooked. With the rapid spread of the pandemic, many businesses were forced to think on their feet about how they maintain that continuity, and cultural continuity will likely be of increased prominence over the coming years.

At Achievers, we are firm believers that one of the key determinants of cultural continuity is close cultural alignment – essentially to what degree a company’s key operations (decision-making, hiring, communication and other business processes are to its company values) are driven by its values.

Business researcher Jim Collins has shown that companies who have strong cultural alignment are six times more successful. We might suspect this effect to increase in the short, medium and long term after the crisis.

Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that most companies have some work to do in this area. A recent Gartner study found that only 31% of HR leaders agree their organisations have the necessary culture to drive future business performance, with 90% of organisations saying employees do not incorporate behaviours related to the culture the organisation needs into their daily activity.

There are four hallmarks of a culture within a business that is well aligned with the business’s day-to-day activities – it is shared, pervasive, enduring and implicit.

  1. Shared – People across very different departments and job functions enjoy a shared element when it comes to experience, they have of working at the company.
  2. Pervasive – It can be found everywhere across the business, at all times. It truly is a universal experience and evident constantly.
  3. Enduring – If properly aligned and connected to the values of the business, and embedded in all key decisions, the culture should be very robust and hard to knock off kilter. HR leaders in many industries will currently be seeing how true that is of their own companies.
  4. Implicit – Where there is close cultural alignment, whatever is explicitly touted as the company values should be equally present implicitly within the business – in how people think and behave each day.

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Leaders that can recognise the above within their business are likely to be managing the impacts of COVID-19 better than some of their peers. They will likely have higher levels of engagement, making it more likely to get buy-in and support for some of the necessary changes in working practices. The higher levels of productivity seen across businesses with higher cultural alignment can also be pivotal in helping to manage through crises.

To hear more about cultural alignment, Dr. Natalie Baumgartner discusses the topic in the latest Workforce Institute webinar. Click here to find out more about Achievers’ employee engagement platform.