Building Climate vs. Culture

by: Dean Fulford

There is a great deal of discussion about the value of corporate/organizational ‘culture’, particularly its contribution to recruiting employees and building an engaged workforce.  Culture is driven by corporate values and vision.  It sets table stakes for behaviour and guides the way employees approach their work and interact. It’s a lot of work, but most leaders consider efforts to build a healthy organizational culture an investment worth making.  But what about investing in organizational climate as well?

Organizational climate is arguably more tangible and easily influenced than culture because it is determined by factors more directly under the organization’s control. Instead of being value-based, organizational climate is related to employees’ perceptions of their workplace environment.  It’s about how it feels to work in a place and the impact on employee motivation and behaviour.

As we’ve said before, a high-performing workplace climate can be created by addressing six key drivers of employee engagement:  clarity, commitment, responsibility, standards, recognition and teamwork. These measurable dimensions influence the work environment and ultimately the focus and motivation of employees toward achieving organizational success.

Of course, a positive organizational climate is not a goal unto itself. Rather, it contributes to a company’s ability to maintain and improve performance. Successful leaders look to ignite a chain reaction that improves climate, increases engagement, and enhances performance.

A positive organizational climate is a powerful thing in good times.  In tough times, it becomes an imperative.  An environment in which employees are energized by their work, care about doing a great job, and value their organization’s contribution will lead to that ultimate goal of improved business performance.

Now that’s the sort of climate change that we can all get behind!

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