One billion items of employee research data point the way to improved performance and happier staff

Employee focus on individual needs at the expense of collaborative achievement is the single biggest handbrake on organizational performance, according to analysis of more than one billion pieces of research information collected from private and public organisations by corporate culture specialist Pulse.

The curse of blame shifting is also revealed as being endemic in our research says Pulse co-founder and director Sue Jauncey.

“Over 85% of staff surveyed report witnessing blame shifting to others by their colleagues to justify why targets have not been achieved.

“Importantly, we found more than 50% of comments by employees researched were driven by a sense of individual entitlement. At the executive level entitlement is represented in ego-based behaviours that satisfy self-interest over collective achievement.

“Based on our extensive research it’s the widespread focus by employees on their own individual needs at the expense of collaboration and collective needs that is the biggest single malaise affecting organisational performance in both the private and public sector.

“This phenomenon is fuelled by the current fashion in ‘corporate HR World’ of engagement surveys, which tend to ask what employees want rather than ask them about what they think the organisation needs.

“Not surprisingly top of the list of what employees want is higher remuneration, followed by better communication, better leadership and better training. This list shows that there is a latent interest in the welfare of the organisation and specifically how an employee operates within it but, sadly, the history of the ‘engagement survey culture’ is that these findings tend to get overshadowed by a focus on pecuniary issues.

Other key findings show a staggering 80% of staff report that they do not know what is expected of them in their business nor do they understand their organisation’s financial or business performance measures, says Jauncey.

“If staff do not have a focus on the goals of the organisation and don’t even understand their role in the bigger picture of the entity one can hardly expect the organisation to operate at full potential,” she said.

“The positive take away from our findings, however, is that the pathway to improved organisational performance is relatively clear.

“Our research, and that of leading organisations in the US, really should sound the death knell of engagement surveys. The data shows no net return on investment (ROI) from engagement surveys and support programs that target individual needs ahead of collective achievement.

“The way forward for enlightened organisations is to establish an intentional culture through a deliberate design process and then measure it against conventional business KPIs.

“In Australia, ASIC has recently identified Corporate Culture as a key issue requiring attention at CEO and board level following their auditing of many businesses and reviewing some of the many scandals involving Australian banks.

“There is empirical evidence that company culture can significantly affect real business outputs. Research by J.J Kotter in the US conducted over an 11-year period during which 207 organisation were monitored found ‘that companies that develop their culture returned 516% higher revenue and 755% higher income’ over those that did not.

Another study by Australian design firm Hassell in 2014 found that combination of organisational culture and workplace facilities outweighs salary and benefits as the influential factors in choosing an employer.

“As a 2016 report from property and facilities giant JLL noted, and that a great many of us know to be true from our own experience, employees want to feel involved, to be part of something larger, and to know what they do is meaningful.

“A focus on collective achievement is indeed a powerful force and is the antitheses of a focus on employee entitlement which, in short, can be a culture killer,” said Jauncey.

About Pulse Australasia

Pulse is boutique international consulting firm implementing unique cultural and business solutions. Pulse programs address challenges that relate to the psychology of people and human behaviour. In rapidly changing markets, Pulse provides solutions that align an organisation’s people to achieve the successful execution of its most challenging strategic objectives. Pulse uses a unique proprietary methodology to quantify behaviour and transform results. Pulse clients include medium to large organisations, ranging from Tier 1 corporates to Not For Profits.


For all queries please contact:

Simrita Virk
0434 531 172
02 92478533

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