Deloitte & Harris culture survey: Execs and Employees not aligned on corp culture

From a Deloitte and Harris Survey just announced findings from a survey about company culture called “Core Values and Beliefs”

Key finding: Executives and employees have different point of view on whether social network helps build a company culture: 41 percent of executives believe so vs while only 21 percent of employees do.

Exceptional organizations think about their business as a two-sided ledger: strategy and culture.

  • 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.
  • When considering which factors substantially contribute to a company’s success, a significantly higher percentage of executives identified “a clearly defined business strategy” (76%) rather than “clearly defined and communicated core values and beliefs” (62%).
  • In contrast, relatively equal percentages of employees cite these factors as contributors: “a clearly defined business strategy” (57%) and “clearly defined and communicated values and beliefs” (55%).

Exceptional organizations create and sustain a culture that engages and motivates their employees.

  • 83% of executives and 84% of employees rank having engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s success.
  • There is a correlation between employees who say they are “happy at work” and feel “valued by [their] company” and those who say their organization has a clearly articulated and lived culture.
Focus on culture* “I am happy at work.” “I feel valued by my company.”
My company has a distinct culture. 84% 86%
I can clearly explain my company’s culture to my friends and family. 82% 86%
My boss speaks to me often about our company’s culture. 57% 63%
Senior leadership regularly communicates my company’s core values and beliefs. 75% 81%
Senior leadership acts in accordance with the company’s core values and beliefs. 80% 85%

*Data reflects the results from the employee survey only.

Executives may be using social media as a crutch to build culture and seem accessible — but good leadership can’t be dialed-in. Norms for building an exceptional culture and organization have not changed.

  • 45% of executives say social media has a positive impact on workplace culture while only 27% employees agree.
  • 41% of executives compared with only 21% of employees believe that social networking helps to build and maintain workplace culture.
  • As it relates to management visibility, 38% of executives think social media allows for increased transparency while only 17% of employees agree.


There is a disconnect between organizations simply talking about their culture and those that are embedding their beliefs into their operations.

  • Executives have an inflated sense of their workplace culture when compared to employees based on significant differentials in their responses to questions about how culture is expressed in their organization.

Exceptional organizations have core beliefs that are unique, simple, leader-led, repetitive, and embedded in the culture.

  • There is a correlation between clearly articulated and lived culture and strong business performance.
  • Only 19% of executives and 15% of employees believe strongly that their culture is widely upheld within their own organizations.

*Data reflects responses from the employee survey only

To be an exceptional organization, companies must focus on the intangible elements of culture-building.

  • When considering what factors impact workplace culture, executives rank tangible elements such as financial performance (65%) and competitive compensation (62%) among the highest, whereas those factors were among the lowest for employees
  • In contrast, employees rank intangible elements such as regular and candid communications (50%), employee recognition (49%), and access to management/leadership (47%) highest.


Implications: I have been thinking about writing a post about how some of the behavior we have seen with the Arab spring and the 99%ers might hit the office. Well, maybe not that extreme, but this is another indication that executives and employees are not aligned.

For more information go to Deloitte‘s website or  please contact Dana Fields Muldrow at (212) 492-3875.

About the survey: Harris Interactive surveyed 1,005 U.S. adults (aged 18+, employed full-time in a company with 100+ employees) and 303 corporate executives on a number of questions related to culture in the workplace.