Since I'm an evangelist for the link between good company culture and strong business results, I'm always happy when I see data that helps validate the connection.

A recent 2012 report from Deloitte, "Culture in the Workplace," reveals some encouraging findings about workplace culture:

  • 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success
  • 83% of executives and 84% of employees rank having engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company's success
  • There is a correlation between employees who say their organization has a clearly articulated and lived culture and those that say they are "happy at work" and feel "valued by [their] company"

While this is heartening news, I was struck by a disconnect between executives and employees about how that workplace culture is expressed and executed:

  • Executives have an inflated sense of their workplace culture, when compared to employees, according to significant differentials in their responses to questions about how culture is expressed in their organizations
  • Only 19% of executives and 15% of employees believe strongly that their culture is widely upheld within their own organizations

In my own research, I have seen this dynamic.  Senior leaders generally think that the level of employee engagement is higher than others see it at the same company.  And the lower in the hierarchy you go, the lower the perception.  What does this tell us?  That we have a long way to go as leaders to institutionalize our cultures to the point where we can positively impact the bottom line.

Here's how to bring these numbers up and get your entire workplace connected:

Get everyone on the same page.

Before anything else, you and your employees need to agree on where you are in your culture journey.  Conduct an anonymous, objective employee engagement survey and respect the results.  Perception is reality.  That becomes your starting point.

Be genuine about your desire to improve.

Relay to your employees that you understand the importance of culture and will work in concert with them to implement programs and build internal loyalty and community.

Spend time at the office with your staff.

Sending a Tweet or posting a Facebook photo doesn't make you a connected leader.  Culture is built in-person with live conversations and interactions.  Social media should be a only be a tool to complement this behavior.

Commit to the culture journey. 

Building a culture of engaged employees takes years.  Don't look for short-term solutions.  They don't exist.  Develop action plans with your employees, not for them, and watch the process deliver the best years for your employees--and the best years of your business.