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In a post-pandemic world, it is ‘advantage employees’

Culture is advancing on the leadership agenda, but the gap in perception between senior management and the rest of the organisation has never been greater, a new study from advisory firm PwC shows.

PwC’s ‘2021 Global Culture Survey’, which canvassed the views of 3200 workers worldwide, finds that culture is a source of competitive advantage and a strategic priority for senior leaders, but it has been deprioritised in the eyes of the rest of the workforce. 

In the survey, 69% of global respondents – and 68% of South African respondents – say their organisation has been able to adapt over the past year and that their culture is a source of competitive advantage. The data also shows that respondents who say their organisation has a distinctive culture are more likely to also see an increase in revenue and customer and employee satisfaction. 

Diverse culture key to growth

Three-quarters of senior management (72%) agree that their culture helps successful change initiatives to happen. Globally, 73% of respondents who state that culture is a source of competitive advantage say making decisions quickly has either become easier or stayed the same during the pandemic.

41% of respondents stated that making decisions quickly had become more difficult in their organisations as a result of the pandemic; 57% stated that coaching and developing talent had become difficult; and 35% said it was more difficult to collaborate with colleagues.

Conversely, only 57% of respondents globally who state that culture is not a source of competitive advantage found decision making easier or the same during the pandemic. In China, this percentage dropped to 38%, while in India it rose to 68%.

Distinctive culture means better performance

The global survey results demonstrate a clear divide between those who say their culture is distinctive and those who do not.
“Our survey results indicate that businesses with strong cultures tend to drive better business outcomes. 

It is notable that the majority of senior leaders credit much of their success during the Covid-19 pandemic to culture. They also agreed that top cultural priorities should include recruitment and retention, digitisation, health and safety and collaboration.

“It’s also clear from our survey that organisations with a distinctive culture found it easier to maintain performance and pivot if needed during the crisis. On the downside, our survey shows that, when culture is not a priority, certain ways of working are not as easy or successful as when culture is prioritised,” PwC people and organisation partner Dayalan Govender says.

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