Leading in the New World of Work

Why Culture is the CEO’s number one job, and how HR can help

Companies are recognising the need to focus on culture and dramatically improve employee engagement as they face a looming crisis in engagement and retention. Employee engagement is a direct result of company culture and it is generally believed that the stronger a company’s culture is, the better its employees understand what is expected of them and what they are working towards.

According to Mercer, the future of work  is constantly evolving and many organisations are finding that the “employment deal” is undergoing a transformation. While it is not entirely up to Human Resources to create a healthy company culture, it is time for HR to address this cultural disruption by transforming themselves from a transaction-executing function into a valued consultant that brings innovative solutions to business leaders at all levels. CEOs must understand this need and enable the transformation in HR.

Here are three reasons why culture is the CEO’s number one job in the modern day of work:

Culture Fit

HR exists to not only recruit, on-board and retain a company’s best talent, but serves the primary function of preserving a company’s values and ethics through the intentional hiring of perfect culture-fits. As a CEO,  you should endeavour to hire candidates whose values and beliefs appear congruent with your company culture. A strategically designed Culture Fit Assessment ensures that candidates exhibit both the necessary qualifications to perform the job, and the essential fit needed to work effectively within the existing company culture; thereby significantly increasing the chances of retaining totally engaged employees.

Human Resources and People Analytics
An employee’s work experience is not an isolated set of actions. Instead, it depends on a healthy company culture and a wide array of capabilities and systems – all of which determine engagement levels. In order to create relevant employee experiences that can impact business results, you need to look at the business from a variety of perspectives to ensure that all of the different parts of the system work together efficiently and effectively. Creating a data-driven mindset in HR management is critical in the crafting of well-informed decisions and increasing efficiency in people-related processes. People Analytics, also known as Intelligent HR, is a strategy that has been evolving over the last few years and has the potential to change the way HR works. In order to bridge the gap between human capital and business outcomes, CEOs need to make investments in leveraging data to make people decisions that craft a well-defined and articulated company culture. The most successful companies in the world draw clear and measurable links between their workforce investments and results. Mercer works with these companies to optimise their workforce strategies and create lasting competitive advantage. The U.S company Taco Bell has been able to enhance its People Strategy by introducing new analytics solutions that included optimising the company’s Human Resources and Compensation Strategy. This leveraging of People Analytics resulted in the effective management of the high turnover rate the business had been experiencing, increased employee engagement and greater insight into workforce concerns.

Custodian of Culture
Nearly everything that HR does contributes to culture: recruiting standards, on-boarding content, performance-management criteria, executive development, diversity activities and organisational assessments. The relevant question is not whether HR professionals should create an ethical culture; rather, it is how they should go about doing so. HR professionals control so many aspects of culture in their everyday work. Furthermore, they are often the best-placed people to best understand human behaviour and workforce dynamics. Besides focusing on recruitment, training and remuneration, you are therefore expected to master the language of company culture and employee engagement and then integrate it into your daily work.

As the economy grows and skills become more specialised, the competition for talent will increase and this will inevitably drive culture and employee engagement to the top of human capital agendas!


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