Whether it is online travel agency Orbitz, which last year was named as the best company in the travel sector to work for, or SouthWest Airlines with its flexible working, travel and medical benefits, and ongoing career development, or the Four Seasons hotel chain with its friends and family discounts, there is no shortage of companies in the travel sector that are investing significant amounts of time and money in building a strong culture.
It is not only in our sector that this is happening. Look at employee-owned John Lewis, or Google with its famous mantra “Do No Evil” or Patagonia’s employees popping out for an impromptu rock climb. It is clear that the issue of culture is making its way up the corporate agenda across the world and in a wide range of different sectors.
Why is this? These are, after all, commercial entities driven by the profit imperative. They are not focusing on culture just to be nice. Have they been led astray by the army of consultants who are continually telling us that a strong company culture is the cornerstone of a successful, and profitable company? Or is this actually the case? Are they at the cutting-edge of business thinking?
It is remarkable that such investment has taken place in the face of such a shortage of concrete evidence that making these investments in culture actually produces commercial results. So, we at TELUS International Europe worked with consultants Frost & Sullivan on a white paper that aims to quantify the link between the development of an effective company culture and an uplift in profits.
The culture value chain
This study concluded that there is a culture value chain. A positive corporate culture increases employee engagement which in turn means that fewer people leave, which has positive effects on customer satisfaction, and the end result is topline growth.
Crucially, it is possible to put numbers next to each of those factors. Most businesses already have in place processes for measuring employee engagement, staff attrition, customer satisfaction – through Net Promoter Score or customer satisfaction surveys – and topline growth. The key is to draw the links between these factors to see how enhancements to corporate culture feeds through to topline growth.
The specific actions that each company takes to build that culture will vary greatly and it is vital to select the policies, activities and so on that will genuinely inspire your employees, but key areas to consider are employee benefits, internal communication and social responsibility. These are all areas that we at TELUS International work hard on to good effect.
12% revenue growth
For example, in our work with one company in the social gaming space the strong culture we built led to an employee engagement rate of 80%, employee attrition fell by 7.1% over just 12 months, while Net Promoter Score increased by 26%, from 44.28% to 70.26%, and the end result was a 12% increase in revenue.
This is the culture value chain in action. It is not a one-off example either. According to Gallup’s 2013 ‘State of the American Workplace’, the top 25% most highly engaged organizations continue to have significantly higher productivity, profitability, customer ratings, lower turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%. (Source:, 2013)
Measuring and tracking all of the positive impacts of engagement can be challenging, but our experience and our white paper makes it clear that there are many benefits of doing so. As more and more companies in the travel sector build clear metrics on the link between culture and profits we can expect to see ever greater focus on corporate culture.