A fish rots from the head – a board member’s guide to company culture

by Stephen Conmy

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There is a Chinese saying that goes – a fish rots from the head. A talent war in the corporate world is in full swing, and company culture is a crucial weapon. Board members, directors and investors now know that a critical success metric is maintaining an excellent corporate culture. The responsibility for company culture lies with the leadership team and the board.

Directors are now increasingly aware of the direct correlation between corporate culture, operations and overall financial performance.

This Boardroom Survival Guide looks at the corrosive effects of bad cultures, and the questions board members can ask their executive teams to ensure culture remains a vital part of the board agenda.

The ‘Great Resignantion’

Why are people leaving their jobs? Why is talent so hard to attract?

It has been called the ‘Great Resignation’. Millions of people worldwide are leaving their old jobs, some because they have assessed what’s important to them, having lived through a pandemic. Most are resigning to pursue other interests simply because they don’t want to remain in a job where they feel undervalued and unheard.

Microsoft surveyed over 30,000 global workers in 2021, and 41% of respondents were contemplating quitting or changing career paths this year. Workers in the UK and Ireland surveyed by HR software company Personio revealed that 38% planned to leave in the next six months to a year. And an analysis by the US Department of Labor shows that more than four million people quit their jobs in April 2021, the highest number on record.

There are several reasons people are seeking a change, in what some economists have called the ‘Great Resignation’. The pandemic prompted some workers to reevaluate their priorities, encouraging them to pursue a ‘dream job’ or transition into staying at home as parents. Many others, however, left their employers because of how they were treated during the pandemic.

People, especially young people with in-demand digital skills, look to an organisation’s culture before joining.


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Company Culture

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