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Workplace cultures can be easily shifted

Research seen exclusively by HR magazine reveals organisational culture can change rapidly

Contrary to received wisdom, company culture can be turned around in as little as two years, according to management consultancy Lane4.

Lane4’s survey, Organisational Culture and its impact on organisational performance, asked 105 respondents in a range of sectors to comment on the culture of their workplace. Only 7% claimed that their organisation’s culture had not changed at all in the past two years.

However, nearly two-thirds (64%) stated that the culture had changed ‘completely’, ‘a lot’ or ‘somewhat’, and an additional 20% said it had changed ‘a little’. The researchers found that 57% attributed this shift in culture to a change in leadership, while 44% pointed to the implementation of a new vision or strategy.

Lane4 head of research Zara Whysall said the research was exposing myths surrounding culture within organisations. “We all hear culture takes a long time to change,” she told HR magazine. “You often hear five years suggested as the amount of time it takes, but our research shows that culture can be harder to keep still than it is to change.”

One problem facing leaders is the void between what they want the culture to be and what their employees actually experience. Just 11% of respondents reported that their culture is completely aligned to the views of management. About one in 16 (6%) said there was no alignment at all.

Additionally, 60% claimed that their organisation does not have a single culture, but instead is formed of several sub-cultures.

Whysall suggested that HR professionals should not consider the lack of a single, unified culture as a bad thing, necessarily.

“The problems start when organisations forget this and try to tackle culture without recognising the different subcultures within it,” she told HR magazine.