U.S. Employees Widely See Company Culture as Key to Its Success, Impacting Employee Morale and Productivity

Six in Ten Say Recession Has Harmed Their Own Company’s Culture

Monday, October 04, 2010

New York, NY – Two thirds of working adults (66%) believe that company culture is very or extremely important to the success of their organization, including 29% who find it extremely important according to a new Ipsos Public Affairs-Randstad survey of over 1,000 employed U.S. adults. Attitudes vary across age however, with adults under 35 being more likely than those who are older to find it important (72% vs. 63%). Others who also tend to find it to be more important include college graduates (76%), employees at companies with over 100 employees (72%), and those with a household income of $50,000 or more (69%).

Employees feel that many elements contribute to company cultures, most notably employee attitudes (69%), effective management (64%), strong trust relationships (57%), being customer-focused (55%), and high accountability standards (50%).

  • Employee attitudes and effective management are the top two elements across demographic groups.

Others important elements include: a commitment to training and development (47%), compensation and reward programs (45%), support for innovation and new ideas (42%), useful resources, technology and tools (41%), and an emphasis on recruiting and retaining outstanding employees (40%). Very few (6%) feel that none of these elements are important with regard to company culture.

However, six in ten (59%) report that the economic events of the last two years have had a negative impact on their company culture. Three in ten (29%) say that the recession has not had an impact on their company culture, and 13% feel that company culture has improved.

  • Workers aged 35 and older are more likely than those who are younger to feel that the economic crisis has negatively affected the culture at their company (64% vs. 49%). Majorities of workers across demographic groups – with the one exception of younger workers – believe that the economy had had a negative impact of their working environment.

As employees believe that company culture impacts workplace drivers such as morale and productivity, the negative repercussions of the recession could be quite damaging. According to the working adults surveyed, company culture has the greatest impact on employee morale (35%), followed by employee productivity (22%) and job satisfaction (17%). Fewer feel that company reputation (13%), employee turnover (7%) or company communication (5%) are most affected by company culture.

  • While morale is the top choice across age groups, those under 35 are more likely than those who are older to say that company culture had the most impact of job satisfaction (23% vs. 15%).

Defining their Company Culture

In their book “Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life,” authors Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy define four categories of company culture:

  • All Hands on Deck Culture: everyone works as a team no matter your title or position, the focus here is working together to get projects done;
  • Process Culture: it's all about data, grids and forms, the culture lacks creativity, but focuses heavily on the procedure and bureaucracy;
  • Work Hard/Play Hard Culture: fun and action are the rule here, employees take pride in work and its quality, but don't miss opportunities to enjoy time with co-workers; and
  • Tough-Guy, Macho Culture: get the job done is the focus here, feedback and constructive criticism reign and you are expected to know what you are doing with little or no direction.

Working adults are most likely to classify their company’s culture as “All Hands on Deck,” selected by 38%. Fewer categorize their company as having a “Process” culture (18%), a “Work Hard/Play Hard” culture (16%), or a “Tough Guy, Macho” culture (12%). One is six (16%) say that none of these categories describes their company culture.

Differences in these classifications vary by age and by the size of the company:

  • While across age groups, all working adults are most likely to describe their work environment as “All Hands on Deck,” those 55 and older are most likely to do so (47%). Those aged 35 to 54 are more likely than those who are younger or older to characterize their company as having a “Process” culture (21%), while adults under 35 are more likely to have a “Work Hard/Play Hard” culture (19%).
  • In terms of company size, those working at smaller organizations (100 employees or less) are more likely to describe its culture as “All Hands on Deck” approach (41%), while those at firms with over 100 employees are more likely to say their company has a “Process” culture (26%).

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted August 16-19, 2010. For the survey, a national sample of 1,008 adults aged 18 and older who are currently employed from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of employed adults aged 18 and older in the United States had been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Nicolas Boyon
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
(646) 364-7583


Rebecca Sizelove
Senior Research Manager
Ipsos Public Affairs
(212) 584-9253

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U.S. Employees Widely See Company Culture as Key to Its Success, Impacting Employee Morale and Productivity

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Nicolas Boyon
Senior Vice President, US
Head of Health Services Research

Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 212 293 6544