7x7 EVP Framework, Part One: Culture and Climate

Culture and climate in a business are two different but related concepts that play a crucial role in the success of an organisation. They are the foundation blocks for a strong and powerful Employer Value Proposition (EVP).

Understanding both culture and climate is important for creating a positive and supportive workplace that drives employee engagement, motivation, and success. For People & Culture leaders, it means influencing the company’s purpose top-down and bottom-up. 

In part one of our EVP Framework Series, we delineate culture and climate, and apply those ideas in defining company purpose, values, beliefs and behaviours. 

A definition of organisational culture

For the uninitiated, organisational culture is best described as ‘the way things are done around here.’ It is shaped by the company’s shared purpose and values and can have a deep impact on employee engagement, motivation, and overall job satisfaction. The purpose is then the underlying reason for its existence beyond making a profit. 

By having a clear and compelling purpose, a company can foster a sense of meaning and direction for its employees, customers and stakeholders. When employees connect with its purpose, they experience greater motivation, satisfaction and fulfilment at work — all measures of employee engagement. This also reinforces the EVP internally and fosters positive and meaningful workplace culture.

A clear and compelling purpose can also help attract and retain top talent, as many employees today seek work that enables them to act on their personal values and purpose. By highlighting purpose in its EVP, a company can stand out as a destination for talented and motivated individuals.

EVP Framework: defining company purpose

People & Culture leaders are in a unique position to steer company purpose through culture and climate. It’s a journey involving everyone in the business, at all levels and with all viewpoints. 

Here are our top seven tips for starting on your purpose journey:

  1. Begin with research. Develop a complete understanding of your company's  historical context: its past values, mission and goals. Consider speaking directly with employees, customers and stakeholders to gather insights and feedback via surveys, focus groups and interviews.
  2. Gather key stakeholders. Assemble a cross-functional team of stakeholders, including leaders, employees, and experts, who will make valuable contributions to the purpose-defining process.
  3. Identify core values. Clearly articulate your company's core values and ensure their alignment with your purpose. Remember, these values will serve as the foundation for individual and team decision-making. 
  4. Evaluate market and social trends. Consider the current market and social trends of relevance to your company and how they can align with your purpose.
  5. Define your unique impact. Identify your company's unique strengths and how you can use them to positively impact communities, society and the environment.
  6. Draft and refine your purpose statement. Draft a clear and concise purpose statement that captures your company's reason for being and the positive impact it aims to make. Refine this statement through collaboration with key stakeholders.
  7. Communicate and embed your purpose. Once defined, communicate the company purpose consistently and widely and ensure it is integrated into its strategies, decision-making processes and employee engagement programs. 


Culture: defining company values

Company values serve as a guide for employees and help create a shared sense of your newly created purpose. But let us caution you: they must be authentic. 

‘Authentic values’ reflect the company's genuine attitudes, actions, and ways of working. When employees understand and align with those values, they are more likely to be aligned with your purpose, which in turn can drive higher levels of engagement, motivation, performance and job satisfaction. 

By comparison, run-of-the-mill values are disconnected from the company’s purpose and goals. Employees perceive the values as insincere and can disengage. 

It is, therefore, crucial to develop inspiring values that accurately reflect their purpose. Such values can help to build your ideal company culture, foster employee engagement and motivation, and drive the company's success.

Climate: beliefs and behaviours 

The other part of the equation is climate, or ‘how people feel around here’ — another crucial piece of a strong EVP. Often confused with culture, ‘climate’ is the collective term for an organisation’s beliefs and behaviours. A range of factors influence climate, such as the level of support from managers and work-life balance, and are dynamic. 

A positive climate in the workplace supports the EVP for several reasons:

  • Increases employee satisfaction and engagement. A positive work environment can boost employee morale, foster a sense of community and lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement. Increased productivity, higher quality work and lower turnover rates are typical. 
  • Improves wellbeing. A positive workplace climate can help employees feel safe, supported, and valued, which can lead to improved physical and mental health and well-being. This includes the wellbeing of the People & Culture team
  • Promotes creativity and innovation. A supportive and inclusive work environment can encourage employees to take calculated risks, collaborate and think creatively, which can drive innovation and growth.
  • Enhances teamwork and collaboration. A positive workplace climate strengthens relationships between employees, increases trust and improves communication and collaboration, which leads to more effective teamwork and better outcomes for the company.
  • Attracts top talent. Positive workplace climates are often more attractive to potential employees and companies can have an easier time recruiting and retaining talent.

On balance, creating and maintaining a positive climate in the workplace should be a priority. In practice, establishing and reinforcing a positive workplace climate requires an understanding of your company’s beliefs and behaviours. 

Beliefs refer to the attitudes, values and principles that it holds and that guide its decision-making and actions. Beliefs can be explicit, such as those articulated in a company's mission statement, or implicit, based on the company's actions and behaviours over time.

Behaviours, on the other hand, refer to the actions and practices that a company adopts and that are visible to employees, customers and other stakeholders. Behaviours can include things such as the way employees are treated and policies and procedures. 

Beliefs and behaviours are interrelated as they shape, reinforce or challenge each other over time. Regularly reviewing, refining and measuring their alignment keeps the leadership accountable for creating a positive and supportive workplace climate that benefits employees and contributes to the success of the company:

  • Review the company's purpose and values. The first step in defining a company's beliefs (or behaviours) is to reflect on the company's purpose and values and ensure that they align with its goals and objectives.

  • Engage employees. Involve employees in the process of defining the company's beliefs and behaviours by seeking their input and feedback. This can ensure that the declarations reflect the perspectives and needs of employees and that they are meaningful and relevant.

  • Conduct research and benchmarking. Gather data and insights from industry peers, competitors, and customers to understand what is important to stakeholders and to help inform the development of the company's principles.

  • Develop a draft of the beliefs. Based on the information gathered, develop a draft of the company's beliefs that encapsulate its ideals, ethics and aspirations.

  • Refine and communicate the beliefs. Refine the outcomes based on feedback from employees and stakeholders and communicate them to employees, customers, and other stakeholders clearly and compellingly.

Bringing it all together

A company's purpose, values, beliefs and behaviours are interrelated elements that shape its culture and climate. Once established, maintaining alignment ensures that the company's beliefs and behaviours remain relevant and meaningful and positively impact its culture and climate. That is the core of your EVP.

In our next post, we delve into rewards and recognition and their crucial role in developing a strong employee value proposition (EVP). 


Sign up to receive talent insights and thought leadership, and invitations to exclusive events.