Certain workplace culture characteristics consistently bring about higher financial performance, according to a study done by one researcher. Organizational psychologist Dr. Richard Petronio surveyed 200,000 employees at 50 companies in a cross-section of industries — high-tech, health care, insurance, transportation, manufacturing, finance, services and retail.
The study identified the workplace culture characteristics that correlate with financial success. It categorized five major types of employer-employee culture styles: Entrepreneurial (“leader-follower”), Paternal (“parent-child”), Mechanical (“machine-part”), Exploitative (“master-slave”) and Partnership (“partner-partner”).
Although many companies aspire to an entrepreneurial style, the study found the partnership style is the one where employers outperform. Certain employers consistently surpassed others financially — even in bad economic times. The study investigated whether there were factors in the employers’ cultures that brought about the success or whether success brought about a certain culture.
Petronio found that the highest-performing employers had the following culture characteristics:
• Strong system of employee rights
• Empowered, responsible employees
• Equal application of personnel policies across the organization
• Shared rewards when the company is profitable
• Extremely open cultures
• Management perceived as fair, credible, trustworthy and sincerely concerned about employees
• High sense of employee identity with the employer and its products or services
• Valued tenure of employees
• Good teamwork
• Employees treated with high respect and fairness
The study found about a 0.65 correlation between the presence of these characteristics and business performance. (A perfect correlation would be 1.0.) As the presence of these characteristics increased, there was a significant increase in profitability.
In companies with a partnership-style culture, these characteristics were also common but were lacking in the others. “It’s clear that certain things in the workplace culture lead to higher profits, and other things don’t have an effect,” Petronio concluded. “We hardly ever found a correlation between pay and benefits and job satisfaction. On the other hand, management’s credibility is almost always predictive of high business performance.”
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