A New Playground for Company Culture

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We embarked on an extensive study in the spring of 2023 to understand how important the role of company culture is today, in the aftermath of a series of external shocks that companies have faced during the past three years.

“The short answer would be that culture is all-important. Culture eats strategy for breakfast and when you go through a crisis like the one that we’ve had during the past 3 years, culture cannot be underlined enough.”

— Topi Manner, Former CEO, Finnair 

The pandemic, the war in Ukraine, as well as the overall uncertainty across markets have blurred our view of the future and brought us face-to-face with our own fears and insecurities.

What changed for employees during this time? What changed for business leaders? How are they managing the demands and expectations that this perma-changing context requires? And what role does company culture play in all of this?

Our premise was that if the role of company culture is of a higher importance to Finnish businesses today than before this series of abrupt changes, then there is an increased appetite for:

  1. understanding culture better, and
  2. learning to develop culture in a more systematic manner.

Our findings are based on 21 semi-structured interviews with CEOs and Chairs of Boards, as well as 109 survey responses from top and middle management across Finnish companies that operate both nationally and globally. The questions covered topics such as culture change in times of crisis, employee attraction and retention, as well as culture development services that companies will need in the future.

While the responses varied in terms of industry-specific business challenges and the degree of impact that the recent crises had on each organisation, there was consensus on one aspect: a healthy company culture is vital for the success of a business, and this is particularly important in moments of change.

“Organisational culture is everything. We have a renewed organisation with a clear strategy, but we don´t seem to get people with us – rather wanting everything to be as it has been. This is tough for the management team, who needs to get results.”

— Culture Survey Respondent

“I am involved in different organisations at board level and when you look at employee surveys you see that people today are under more pressure, feel more stressed, more exhausted, and they are not sure if they can cope with it. This affects the company culture negatively unless you find some way of understanding why that is and what you can do about it.”

— Alexander Bargum, CEO, Algol

 

Download the full report to find out how leaders reflect on culture today, and what kind of needs for development they identify within this area.

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