A new report, Culture and channelling corporate behaviour: ACCA member survey, published by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has found that recognition at work is the highest motivator, regardless of age, industry or location – even outstripping monetary reward.
The survey harnessed the views of almost 2,000 ACCA finance professionals from across the globe. The results also highlighted geographical variations, including the desire to reach a more senior position as being a stronger motivator in Africa and Asia while having a more challenging role was most important for employees in the Americas.
Jo Iwasaki, ACCA Head of Corporate Governance, said: “The survey highlighted some clear distinctions between employee views in Europe and America and Africa and Asia. For example in Africa and Asia rules and procedures play a larger role than for respondents in Europe. However, the tone of corporate leadership is vitally important in channelling the overall culture of an organisation in any region.”
The issue of performance management will be of particular interest to business leaders. Although half of the respondents conceded that performance-related pay schemes could help foster best performance, nearly two-third thought that such systems may invite people to exaggerate or otherwise falsify their measures.
This shows the fine line employers need to tread when putting in place performance related targets and the need for careful consideration when linking them to pay.
Konstantinos Stathopoulos, Professor of Accounting and Finance at Manchester Business School and co-author of the report, said: “The survey results reveal there is no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to building corporate culture and behaviour.”
“Even though the role of leadership in setting the tone is highlighted in most responses, the survey uncovers significant differences in attitudes and perceptions regarding effective channels of corporate behaviour. These disparities are also intensified by differences in respondents’ geographic location, industry and characteristics.”
Tone at the top was claimed to have by far the strongest influence on corporate behaviour. Incentives (not only related to pay) came second, followed by rules and procedures and lastly, personal agendas. Irrespective of their age, industry or location, more than half of the respondents said that getting better recognition for their work was the most highly motivating factor.
Having more challenging work and getting a more senior position were the two second highest motivators, followed by job security, earning more money and lastly, contributing to the public good. Motivation to reach a senior position was significantly higher in Africa and Asia, while having more challenging work was the most important motivating factor in America.
The concept of ‘tone at the top’ describes the attitude of an organisation’s board of directors and senior management towards setting and promoting guiding values and an ethical culture. Other important drivers of corporate behaviour were the management style and employee/staff relationships.
Respondents recognised the role of communication and employee engagement as a foundation of healthy corporate cultures. For example, one respondent argued that a healthy organisational culture ‘can be identified through open and frank communication between those [higher] up in the hierarchy and those lower down in it’.
A healthy organisation can be defined as ‘an organisation where all the employees are clear on the organisation’s values and ethics; where culture is high on the HR agenda supported by comprehensive rules and procedures and reinforcement programmes; where the board and top management walk the talk and are consistent in their behaviour and decision making’.
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