SA's organisational cultures are incoherent and inconsistent, survey finds.

Employees say employers are sending mixed messages about what the culture is.

South African companies send their employees mixed messages about what their organisational culture is. This is according to the first-ever South African Company Culture Health Index survey, which was launched by Simon-pure Consulting in August 2019. It finds that, while 45 percent of companies encourage employees to be innovative and put forward new ideas, only 23 percent allow time and space at work to actively develop ideas or innovations, and only 38 percent are willing to invest in developing new ideas.

“This may send mixed messages to employees (because) if they took the job because they expected an opportunity to bring creativity and innovation to the role, and then find themselves effectively hamstrung, they could quickly become disengaged,” says Elaine Porter, founder of Simon-pure Consulting.

Another area of concern among employees is the perception of preferential treatment and inconsistency around promotions and reward, with less than 25 percent saying they believed rewards and promotions were given fairly.

Says Elaine: “There’s nothing quite like perceptions of favouritism, unfair practice and selective application of the ‘rules’ to cause disgruntlement. (Having 75 percent of people with this view) is high and should be an encouragement for any organisation to take a closer look at policies and processes around recognition, reward, and career advancement.”

Also, only 29 percent of respondents said their employers had met their expectations since they joined, which means that companies are failing to deliver on their employer brand and promises made during the recruitment process.

6 determinants of a healthy company culture 

The survey, which is open to the public for participation, gauges healthy organisational culture by asking South Africans to share their workplace experiences based on the follwing six categories:

  1. Quality of leadership - which examines how organisational leaders perform across 20 key areas.
  2. Engagement - which looks at the benefits and engagement experiences companies offer, and how much these initiatives matter to employees.
  3. Career development - where respondents rated the quality of their career development or performance management experience with their employer and shared what they would most want to gain from these experiences.
  4. Collaboration - in which respondents rated their experience with their colleagues, work environment and work processes.
  5. Consistency - which examines whether the respondents’ experiences at work align with their expectations
  6. Creativity -  which looks at whether or not companies value creativity and innovation in the workplace.
  7. These six categories make up much of the employee experience, and each offers opportunities for companies to improve engagement on an every-day basis. 

“A lot of responsibility for shaping company culture falls to the Marketing or HR teams, and they do have a big part to play,” says Elaine.

“But other factors, like how leaders and managers behave, how colleagues treat one another, and the company’s policies and processes have a big impact on one’s experience at work. We wanted to examine all these factors to get a view of how they are playing a role in South African businesses.”