Future of Work

Company culture is key to keeping the best people - here’s what employees value most

good company culture is important

Surprisingly, research found that factors such as friendly colleagues, flexible schedules and manageable workloads were discussed but had little or no impact on a company’s overall culture score. Image: Unsplash/ Campaign Creators

Kayleigh Bateman
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  • Employees cite feeling respected as the top element for good company culture.
  • As workers continue a mass exodus from current jobs for better opportunities, companies search for ways to improve company culture.
  • Factors such as friendly colleagues and flexible schedules cut no ice with employees, according to Glassdoor reviews.

Company culture has taken on a new level of importance since the pandemic, which has driven a revolution in worker expectations. Employees are leaving their jobs in droves, driven by events of the past 18 months to find better work-life balance, fresh opportunities and follow new career paths.

This so-called “Great Resignation” means companies everywhere are having to work harder to retain their talent. And a key part of that is creating a strong culture. Indeed, one study, conducted before the pandemic, found company culture to be the biggest drive of employee satisfaction - ahead of factors like pay and benefits.

So, what makes a good company culture?

Respect is far and away the biggest single factor indicating whether employees are happy with their work culture, according to a recent study conducted by the MIT Sloan Management Review.

The study analysed over a million reviews written by employees about their employers and discovered that companies where workers feel respected are far more likely to have a good culture.

Companies where employees feel respected are likely to have a good company culture
Companies where employees feel respected are likely to have a good company culture. Image: MIT Sloan Management Review

The study used a natural language processing tool to identify common traits mentioned when employees submit a review of their workplace to ratings site Glassdoor. These traits were then compared with the overall culture rating the company was given, enabling the researchers to place a value on the relative importance they played in determining good or bad culture.


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Based on the results, ‘respect’ is nearly 18 times as important as the typical feature in determining a good company culture. The research demonstrated employees also place a lot of value on supportive leaders, and whether those leaders live the company’s core values. Benefits, perks, learning opportunities and job security are among other key predictive factors.

good Company culture
Employees want to know their bosses have their back Image: MIT Sloan Management Review

Surprisingly, the MIT Sloan Management Review study found that factors such as friendly colleagues, flexible schedules, and manageable workloads were discussed but had little or no impact on a company’s overall culture score.

Why is a strong company culture important?

A company’s culture is essentially its core values, traditions, attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs shared within its workforce. Company culture can attract or repel talent, as it impacts employee happiness, job satisfaction, and overall performance levels. A failure to communicate a clear company culture can cause a dip in morale.

Have you read?

Even before the pandemic, employees were found to be looking for a company culture and values aligned with their own priorities, according to Glassdoor’s Mission & Culture Survey in 2019.

Gil Allouche, Co-Founder and CEO of Metadata.io, stressed in an article for Forbes that “business success comes in many forms, but bad culture isn’t sustainable for the long haul.”

“On paper, you may be seeing great strides now, but if you haven’t devoted time, energy, and resources to your organization’s culture, the dust will settle from the high it's on, and what’s left will be the people,” he added.

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