Global Culture Survey 2021

Key Dutch findings from a study on the value of a strong corporate culture

A strong corporate culture makes a difference in times of crisis 

A strong, distinctive corporate culture helps organizations adapt to change. That is one of the conclusions from PwC’s Global Culture Survey 2021. Around 3,200 employees from all levels of organizations worldwide took part in the corporate culture survey, 201 of which were in the Netherlands. The survey also shows that there is a gap in the perception of company culture between the management and employees at the levels below.

Link between organizational culture and resilience during COVID-19 

An analysis of the results shows that there is a relationship between organizational culture and the impact of COVID-19. In the survey, respondents were asked to what extent they agree with the statement "We have a strong corporate culture that sets us apart from our competitors”. Those who answered "agree" were more likely to say that aspects like customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction remained the same or even improved during the corona crisis.

This outcome underlines the importance of a strong organizational culture for the resilience of organizations, regardless of what that culture looks like. A strong culture prevents panic-driven decisions in times of crisis, such as Covid-19. A purpose  points you in the right direction. Moreover, a strong purpose is a means of binding and organising people, which makes it more likely that everyone will continue to work towards the organizational goals in the same way, even in times of crisis.

Connection between organisational culture and ways of working (together)

We see a similar link between organizational culture and ways of working. Regardless of whether the corporate culture is perceived as strong and distinctive, COVID-19 has undeniably influenced the ways of working within organizations. Especially when it comes to things like collaboration among colleagues, talent development, and maintaining a sense of community within an organization, many respondents say that this has become more difficult. But here too - with these indicators that are less easily measurable - we see a connection with the corporate culture: respondents who indicate that their organization has a distinctive organizational culture, more often indicate that the ways of working (together) have not been affected or have even improved.

Gap between management and other employees

One of the most striking findings of the Culture Survey is the difference in opinion between management and the rest of the organization when it comes to the role of culture in the organization. Of the respondents who hold positions in middle or upper management, 73 percent believe that culture is an important item on the leadership agenda. Of respondents in lower-level positions, only 52 percent hold that view. 

The difference is also striking on points that touch on the subject of diversity and inclusion. For example, in the statement "our organization takes the time to listen to different opinions",  the difference between upper and middle management and the other workers is as much as eighteen percentage points.

Matters relating to company culture are often managed top-down. Employees are by no means always involved in the creation of this. That could be one of the reasons for the gap. Another is that there is sometimes a lack of coherence between what is professed from the top and the perception on the shop floor. That is why 'walking the talk' is so important.

Organizations should regularly  reflect on whether the corporate culture is the right one, that is, whether the culture actually shows who you want to be.  A strong corporate culture attracts the employees you want, but you only retain them if you actually practice what you preach.

Contact us

Mahadeva Matt Mani

Mahadeva Matt Mani

Partner Strategy&, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 279 19 63

Bastiaan Starink

Bastiaan Starink

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)65 375 58 28

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