Why Culture Matters in the Sustainability Journey

Why Culture Matters in the Sustainability Journey

Snapshot Insights

Snapshot Insights

Without a culture change, new technologies are nothing more than “putting lipstick on a pig”. To accomplish a real difference when it comes to sustainability, and to energize people for work in the digital age, leaders also need to intentionally reshape the organizational culture. 

Big changes in technology alter how work gets organized, the tasks employees handle and the places where they work and how they behave. You can see this throughout history; whether it’s the mechanical loom or the typing pool, the places where people work underpins their performance and their shared codes of behavior (culture). 

Now, we’re living in the era of hyper-technology. The rise of data, the growth of platforms and automation hasn’t changed the above though – culture is still as important than ever, and you need to shape yours for the realities of modern work. How do you do it then? The fast-changing and quick-moving pace of business today demands an activist approach to shaping the culture. In fact, according to research conducted with HfS Research, companies that intentionally focus on culture realize greater success, both revenue-wise and in terms of building out their digital initiatives.

To succeed, Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work suggests a cultural framework to nurture people, determine the talents needed and the right structures in which leaders can set people to work. This framework prescribes leadership behaviors; it guides the various activities and work streams that will build flatter structures to engage the energy at the edge of their organization; it reinvigorates the power and decision dynamics that happen at the center; it also directs the critical upskilling that the existing workforce needs and it features a technology backbone which augments people with insight and, orchestrates new digital workflows. 

All in all, the framwork provides a blueprint for the modern organization in the 21st century, and includes five steps:  

  • Set the stage with leadership: Most executives understand the challenges of disruption, but they should motivate their workforce to embrace visions of change, manage its execution and roll out learning initiatives across the organization. It starts at the top.
  • Use the workspace to shape work behaviors: Workplaces should be designed to encourage creative expression. Offices should be designed to showcase new product developments and workforce innovation. Yes, the workplace matters.
  • Rewire power and decision making: Businesses need to reset the dynamics of power and decision making by opening up their organizational structures. The talent you need is often found at the edge of the business, in a start-up or co-working space.
  • Build new people-to-machine workflows: AI systems will increasingly alter employee jobs, so businesses need to retrain managers around new technologies to ensure the workforce has the skills required for new roles. How would you react to an algorithm telling you how to work?
  • Go for the gold on employee experience: Employee experience spurs employee loyalty and productivity. Businesses should use data and digital tools to improve the quality of their employee engagement programs. Get it right, and you’ve won them forever (well, for at least three years).

To learn more, check out the report Culture Cure for Digital: How to Fix What’s Ailing Business