Do Your HR Efforts Consider Cultural Needs?

Each year companies everywhere spend anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars per employee through their human resources departments in an effort to build a good business culture. But often those efforts fall short of their potential simply due to misunderstandings of what is needed by the employees in order to feel satisfied.

At a basic level, business culture is simply the summation of traits and behaviors of the employees. Satisfaction, however, is a fulfilled need or desire. And, it is typically the role of the human resources department to keep both aspects in perspective in order to resolve issues and create harmony between staff and management. That balance is what allows the business to achieve optimal productivity.

There is no shortage of studies on the subject of company culture, but many of them agree that there are certain factors or traits within a corporate culture that correlate to fulfilling employee needs and desires — i.e., satisfaction. In no particular order, they are:

  • Equal Opportunity
  • Teamwork
  • Recognition
  • Communication
  • Accomplishment
  • Training
  • Work-Life Balance

Companies should certainly work in each of these areas, but leadership and HR departments should NOT dedicate resources to them equally. The magnitude of the impact each of these characteristics has on job satisfaction varies greatly depending upon different situations, not the least of which is cultural priorities of the region of the world in which the company is located. Or, whether such cultural traits are brought into a company based on the employee population.

A 2014 study from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. titled, “Cultural Impact of Human Resources Practices on Job Satisfaction: A Global Study Across 48 Countries,” (authored by Andreassi, Lawter, Brockerhoff, and Rutigliano) revealed some very intriguing takeaways on some of the above factors, and how priorities can change from region to region.

Equality of opportunity, for instance, is one of the most important qualities of companies in Asian countries and companies.

Teamwork, while valued across many regions and both genders, is particularly important with regards to job satisfaction within Latin American workforces in comparison to others.

Recognition is a noticeably more valued trait among more feminine cultures and workforces.

Communication, meanwhile, was more valued in companies with a more conservative-thinking workforce. The determination here was that employees in such environments have a high degree of uncertainty avoidance, and communication helps satisfy that desire.

Conversely, training seems to be most valued in environments opposite those that value communication. That is, they have a low degree of uncertainty avoidance. These employees view their work as a challenge and do not see change as a threat.

But the one trait that was rated very highly across all geographies was, accomplishment. It makes sense that people want the feeling that their efforts are making a positive difference, so always devote resources to this cause.

Then there’s work-life balance, which is valued most in individualistic cultures (like the U.S.) as opposed to collectivistic cultures (like Asia).

As you can see, the demographics of the workplace can have a large impact on what office culture traits lead to worker satisfaction. Keep these variables in mind as you craft your corporate policies and rewards in the name of culture enhancement. And, if the order of importance is not clear-cut, conduct surveys to determine what traits are most valued and concentrate your resources accordingly.