A strong corporate culture is good for business in many respects. However, a recent survey by Deacons revealed that there is a significant divergence between employers and employees when it comes to perception of their own company’s corporate culture.
At a Chamber webinar on 7 May, Cynthia Chung and Elsie Chan from the employment practice at Deacons discussed the results of the survey, and how improving corporate culture can not only attract talent but also help avoid legal disputes.
The report reveals that while two out of three employees have an unfavourable view of their company’s corporate culture, the employers overestimate the strength of their own corporate culture. The report also highlights diverging attitudes in specific areas. For example, 70% of employers said that hierarchy was important, compared with just 5% of employees.
A key area of concern raised by both employees and employers is long hours, which was also an issue mentioned across all age groups. Other concerns raised by employees included poor communication, a fear of “speaking up” and a lack of support for mental health issues. Employees also feel that they are not being given the opportunity to play a part in influencing their company’s culture.
While salary remains important to the younger generation, they are also interested in the ability to work from home and in companies with good CSR credentials.
Another issue is that employees are not well versed in policies such as those affecting diversity, equal pay and flexible working. Companies also overestimate their employees’ understanding of these issues, which can lead to legal disputes.
There has, in fact, been a significant rise in employment-related disputes in recent years, and Deacons has seen a 40% rise in disputes arising from elements of corporate culture. This can cost companies not just directly but also in reputational damage.
Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, how companies treat their employees is being scrutinized as redundancies, remote working and health and safety issues come to the fore. Going forward, Chan and Chung recommend that companies pay attention to prevailing headwinds, and improve communication and training for staff.