Although you can’t see it, company culture is an extremely powerful force in the workplace.

The right culture can mean the difference between an employee coming to work happy, performing well and going the extra mile or a person turning over in bed on a Monday morning and opting for a duvet day. Catalina Marketing are a brilliant example of an organisation that recognise the importance of culture and were able to optimise their employee’s wellbeing and also the company’s performance. 

PUSH has witnessed good, bad and indifferent cultures dictate the mood at organisations and they can have a dramatic impact on the wellness of the workforce. Transforming culture can be difficult and takes time, effort and commitment. In some cases, the culture isn’t bad or toxic but has suffered because of challenging business conditions. And there have been no shortage of those in the last 10 years. 

PUSH client Catalina Marketing, for instance, faced ongoing change due to the shifting landscapes of both the retail and marketing industries. No workforce likes constant change and uncertainty at the top tier and an apparent difference of direction compounded the stress and anxiety the team was feeling. Employee attrition rates rose to 22 per cent at this time. 

The general manager knew the problems needed to be addressed and PUSH was brought in to transform the culture as well as increase productivity. 

For many years, business in general paid lip service to culture, proclaiming its importance but deep-down seeing it as a touchy feely, HR nice-to-have rather than something that truly impacted the bottom line. We say a big thank-you, therefore, to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) who back in 2016 published a study that explored the importance of culture to long-term value and how corporate cultures are being defined, embedded and monitored. Finally, culture was given a tangible link to business value. 

The report was the culmination of the FRC’s Culture Coalition, a collaboration with organisations such as the City Values Forum and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), as well as interviews with more than 250 chairmen, CEOs and leading industry experts, from the UK’s largest companies. 

At the time, FRC chairman Sir Winfried Bischoff said that a healthy corporate culture leads to long-term success by both protecting and generating value in the UK economy. It is therefore important to have “a consistent and constant focus on culture”, rather than wait for a crisis, he said, adding: “A strong culture will endure in times of stress and change.”

PUSH’s forward-thinking clients have been among those to recognise the importance of culture to their employee’s wellbeing and also the organisation’s performance. 

When it comes to culture transformation, our approach is to find out exactly what is affecting the team, examining the underlying issues and blindspots and assessing what is required to create positive and sustainable cultural change. 

Typically, we will run audits and speak to the entire team to get to the heart of what is going on internally. In the case of Catalina, four core themes emerged from the data that highlighted the changes required to improve creativity, innovation and resilience: bring to life the company vision and unite the team behind it; reignite the organisation’s passion and support the team’s energy levels; improve team integration and company-wide communication; and increase the opportunity for reflection, feedback and celebration. 

Over the next eight months we delivered a programme of activity that included personal development workshops and coaching and we also appointed internal Culture Champions who went on to create the Catalina UK Manifesto outlining behaviours, values, goals and aspirations. Another audit was carried out a few months later which shone a light on what else we needed to do to fully effect the culture change, which involved embedding the Manifesto behaviours in the team. 

The ultimate success of the programme can be judged by the metrics: team churn reduced from 34.5 per cent in 2018 to 14.8 per cent in 2019; absenteeism saw a huge drop from 210.5 days to 76 says across the year; and the total number of working days lost to stress dropped from 48 to zero to date in 2019. 

Amply demonstrating the link between culture change and productivity, the company saw an impressive improvement in the lead times of high-quality campaign delivery from eight weeks to two. The company also calculated it is saving around 9.5 to 17.5 hours a week due to the focus on efficiency, which amounts to 40-75 hours of available time to do great work for customers each month.

Statistics never tell the full story though and one of the most gratifying aspects of working on a culture change programme is seeing how much happier people are in their jobs. 

At PUSH, we believe that nobody should dread going to work and by creating real change in organisations, we are one step closer to achieving this every single day. Get in touch to talk about how we can transform your organisations culture.

Cate Murden
Cate is the Founder and CEO of PUSH. She created PUSH with the fierce belief that with the right tools, mindsets and behaviours, we could build better workplaces full of happy, healthy and high-performing individuals.

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