A new study conducted by Harris Interactive and published by Deloitte, called “Core Values and Beliefs,” examines perspectives on corporate culture and business strategy. According to this survey, 41 percent of executive believe social networking helps to build and maintain workplace culture, while only 21 percent of employees hold the same view!
And that’s just the beginning of the social divide.
On whether social media has a positive influence on workplace culture: 45 percent of executives and business leaders believe so; only 27 percent of employees feel the same.
On whether social media allows for increased management transparency: 38 percent of business leaders say yes; a mere 17 percent of employees agree.
According to Deloitte, the research suggests that executives might be using social media as a crutch in building workplace culture and appearing to be accessible to employees. As Punit Renjen, chairman of the board, Deloitte LLP, who commissioned the survey says, “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…”
What isn’t being disputed by business leaders or employees, is the important role culture plays in business success. However, the study finds that most executives tend to prioritize a clearly defined business strategy, over a clearly defined and well-communicated set of core values and beliefs (76 percent to 62 percent, respectively). Employees, on the other hand, value these pillars of corporate culture nearly equally (57 percent and 55 percent, respectively).
When looking at some of the other mainstays of workplace culture, the findings are consistent. Executives rank competitive compensation (62 percent) and financial performance (65 percent) among the top factors influencing culture on the job.
On the other side of the ledger, employees say the intangibles – regular and candid communication (50 percent) and access to management (47 percent) – outweigh the tangibles – compensation (33 percent) and financial performance (24 percent).
The study also points out that executives tend to perceive corporate culture as being well expressed in their organizations, while, you guessed it, employees disagree.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most of us, either business leaders or employees, could have come up with these general data points without doing a survey. Most likely, we have all experienced the corporate culture divide, and understand what drives each side’s perceptions and points of view.
The big take-away for business leaders, and those in HR influencing how they communicate with the workforce, is that just “doing social media” doesn’t win you any points. In fact, there is a real possibility that giving the boss social media tools will make things much worse.
If it allows business leaders to substitute pithy one liners and cheery updates for honest, transparent communication with the workforce, the culture divide only widens.
The truth is this: employees use, consume, and interact with social media tools because they allow for shortcuts, communication without context, and are used with an unspoken agreement between participants that allows most everything to be retracted, updated, revised, commented upon, and tweaked, with no consequence or penalty. There is an “understanding” and everyone gets a pass for “on the fly” comments, or a trigger-finger post… Everyone but you, business leader.
You get one shot. Everything you say has layers of meaning, it has impact. This means you have to use social media tools in a completely different way. Connections, friends, likes, comments… not for you.
HR once again has a leading role to play when considering the use of social media to improve corporate culture, or communicate business strategy or core values with the workforce. Your role is to ensure these new methods of communication are not used as a crutch or a substitute for meaningful, transparent communication.
Bottom line: don’t assume that just putting something, anything “social” in place will satisfy your employee’s insatiable appetite for leadership, and regular, open communication. All “social”, “collaboration”, or whatever you want to call it take a tremendous amount of change management and culture work. The technology alone without this work is nothing more than a 2012 fax machine.
Another infusion of knowledge…