We are all striving toward the “perfect culture”

Sixty percent of HR executives believe their leadership want to support an innovative culture, but only 31 percent report their leaders are actively following through and doing what they say they would when it comes to culture.

For Pathfinding HR* organizations, close to 90 percent believe their leaders support an innovative culture. Close to 6 in 10 also cite that their leaders appropriately model the behaviors of the organization’s desired culture. 84 percent of CEOs (per 2019 Global CEO Outlook) express wanting a culture where failure in pursuit of innovation is tolerated (only 56 percent confirmed that this culture is in place within their organizations).

According to the Future of HR 2020 insights, over 61% of HR executives globally are currently in the process of changing their organizations’ culture to align with their organizations’ purpose. This could also explain why, for what seems to be the first time, culture has risen to the top of the C-suite agenda (per 2019 Global CEO Outlook).

Kate Holt

But who owns the culture agenda? And who guards it?

71 percent of Pathfinding HR “strongly agree” that their HR function is playing a vital role in establishing the right culture, compared to only 15 percent of their counterparts.

When it comes to monitoring and maintaining the right culture for their organizations, Pathfinding HR organizations are also 6x more likely than the rest of the respondents to ”strongly agree” that they have a strategy in place to monitor and maintain their cultures. Not surprisingly, they are also 5x more likely to have dedicated roles in HR that focus solely on purpose and culture.

A strong correlation also exists between dedicated culture roles and confidence in attracting talent. Approximately 70 percent of respondents with dedicated purpose and culture roles embedded within HR are also seen to be more confident in their ability to attract the right talent to meet their companies’ growth objectives.

The right culture

Source: Future of HR 2020: Which path are you taking? KPMG International

Five ways Pathfinding HR organizations are passing the “culture test”:

  • Identifying the right team to drive both the initial culture change and long-term sustainment and establishing dedicated culture change roles
  • Understanding the current culture state and the areas requiring a shift and gaining clarity on the desired future state, including the business objectives the new culture will influence
  • HR has many root-cause levers of influence that it can use to nudge and shape behaviors. But this has to be done in an orchestrated way 
  • Understanding that culture is specific, it is nuanced, and there is no one “right” culture for every organization
  • Shaping culture is a C-suite challenge. This is why having someone on the executive committee with a culture brief can be helpful, as long as the rest of the board accepts that it is their task to raise the culture implications of decisions in the spirit of a constructive challenge
Jacqueline Welch


* Pathfinding HR: A small subset of the survey sample (approximately 10%) who are simultaneously focusing on four discrete, yet interconnected capabilities: workforce shaping, purpose and culture, employee experience, and workforce analytics. Their ‘counterparts’ refers to the remainder of the survey population.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewees and survey respondents and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or any KPMG member firm.  KPMG’s involvement is not an endorsement, sponsorship or implied backing of any company’s products or services.