Diversity & Inclusion

Implications with Organizational Culture & Outcomes Benefiting Bottom Line Earnings

When we do not develop organizational culture intentionally, it creates itself. When teams are rooted with cohesive culture strategies, they propel forward in times of stress. As a leader who values culture, let’s begin with talking about how culture is communicated. As people we feel, think, & speak thus behaving. We can hear and see the words and actions. What cannot be seen are the emotions. There are social norms in organizations telling us whether it is acceptable to express those emotions, or whether they should be held in and repressed. The best way to change and influence culture is through social norms. There needs to be buy in from the team and teams follow leaders’ behavior and example. When does culture begin to matter in the employment process? Culture development begins with the recruitment process and continues even when employees leave your organization. We begin with organizational values, grounded in virtues propelling us to create environments where teams thrive.

Ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being. Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we are brought up.

People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. This response to legitimate authority is learned in a variety of situations, for example in the family, school, and workplace. In the Milgram Shock experiment, the agency theory was explained “that people will obey an authority when they believe that the authority will take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. This is supported by some aspects of Milgram’s evidence. For example, when participants were reminded that they had responsibility for their own actions, almost none of them were prepared to obey. In contrast, many participants who were refusing to go on did so if the experimenter said that he would take responsibility.”

In the Elevator Experiment, researchers found that people succumb to social pressures. People would follow the non-verbal behaviors of the people in the elevator. “Ultimately, diversity contributes not just by adding different perspectives to the group but also by making it easier for individuals to say what they really think. […] Independence of opinion is both a crucial ingredient in collectively wise decisions and one of the hardest things to keep intact. Because diversity helps preserve that independence, it’s hard to have a collectively wise group without it.”

In the longitudinal study, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?: The Influence of a Culture of Companionate Love in the Long-term Care Setting” (forthcoming in Administrative Science Quarterly), surveyed 185 employees, 108 patients, and 42 patient family members at two points in time, 16 months apart, at a large, nonprofit long-term healthcare facility and hospital in the Northeast. Using multiple raters and multiple methods, we explored the influence that emotional culture has on employee, patient, and family outcomes. What we learned demonstrates how important emotional culture is when it comes to employee and client well-being and performance.

Employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture reported higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork. They showed up to work more often. Our research also demonstrated that this type of culture related directly to client outcomes, including improved patient mood, quality of life, satisfaction, and fewer trips to the ER.

While this study took place in a long-term care setting ¬- which many people might consider biased toward the “emotional” — these findings hold true across industries. We conducted a follow-up study, surveying 3,201 employees in seven different industries from financial services to real estate and the results were the same. People who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another¬ were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organization, and accountable for their performance.

In a study at Portland State University, researchers found being a member of a marginalized group affects many workplace experiences, including engagement. These groups are often faced with overt and subtle discrimination and higher mental and emotional taxation both in and outside of work. Culture happens no matter what. Organizations must be intentional about what it encourages, both as a whole and within departments. This requires carefully selecting leaders, cohesive communication, and buy-in that stems from understanding. An inclusive, employee-centered culture is an investment that will pay off in many ways. However, it is a new concept for many areas and requires time and resources, along with a collaborative and synchronized effort. This requires ownership.

In conclusion, leaders have power to influence. How we manage our teams reflects on our ability to create the organization we want, with a culture based on values we exemplify to our staff. Research by the top business schools in the USA shows the benefits to organizations, including increasing employee engagement, productivity, reducing absenteeism with benefit to bottom line earnings.