Focus on Culture to Ensure a Successful Business Transformation

This five-part blueprint for a thriving culture ensures ongoing improvement, continual growth, and an engaged team that can ride out any business disruptions they encounter.

Corporate culture cannot be left to chance. For companies expecting or undergoing disruptions, culture is a critical element that must be addressed carefully and strategically. An organizational restructuring, strategic transformation, merger or acquisition that fails to consider company culture is one that sets itself up for employee disengagement, turnover, and, ultimately, failure. Your company must have a unified purpose and culture for your people to stand behind to thrive during these events.

Often, corporate culture is assumed to be something that develops organically from the collective traits of the people in a company. And that assumption is a mistake. Thriving organizational cultures are strategically designed to shape the shared purpose, identity, and intent of the organization. When your culture is designed to engage, motivate, and align employees to work together—even when the organizational structure is compromised or threatened—your people will have a bond that fosters continuity.

As companies face major organizational change, they encounter a common thread: employee disengagement. When employees grow uncertain of a company’s trajectory, loss of motivation and engagement, as well as the departure of valuable talent, is likely to be a result. And the cost is high.

According to a Gallup poll, employee disengagement is estimated to cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year. A recent Center for American Progress study reports that the costs associated with replacing employees is significant: 20 percent of annual salary for a mid-range position and 213 percent of annual salary for a highly educated and experienced position.

However, implementing a powerhouse culture before, during, and after disruption can ward off the unnecessary loss of key talent by boosting the morale, engagement, and productivity of the existing or combined cultures.

A powerhouse culture benefits both employee and organization by:

  • Keeping employees motivated and aligned in steady and changing times
  • Providing a strong foundation for greater support for planned change initiatives
  • Driving both individual and corporate performance to higher levels
  • Positioning a company as an employer of choice by retaining and attracting top talent
  • Creating greater community through the successful blending of two cultures

The Blueprint for Building a Powerhouse Culture

Like a house, a great organizational culture is built by design. This five-part blueprint for a thriving culture ensures ongoing improvement, continual growth, and an engaged team that can ride out any business disruptions they encounter.

  1. The Foundation: Understanding your people and their motivation

People are motivated differently. Some are moved more from within (intrinsically), while others are motivated by the potential for an external outcome (extrinsically). Fostering intrinsic motivation, such as purpose, belonging, and status, alongside extrinsic motivation, such as competition, praise, and tangible rewards, can be an enormous benefit.

The intentional identification and blending of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators fosters employee engagement. At ITA Group, we call this Motivology, the art and science of identifying and balancing internal and external motivators.

This process begins with identifying the specific behaviors you want to drive in your people, as well as the values you want them to embody. The next step is to offer a wide array of tangible and intangible incentives that will motivate your people to become invested in your culture.

  1. The Hearth: Establishing a culture story

For customers, compelling stories establish a strong, personal, and emotional connection with a brand. For your company, defining your internal culture story shares a similar important role: It keeps talent interested and motivated.

To frame your culture story, map out goals and objectives, desired outcomes, employee needs, and the behaviors and rewards necessary for success. As you develop your story, keep the “6 Cs” in mind: connection, commitment, community, communication, camaraderie, and celebration.

  1. The Kitchen: Clear, consistent, and effective communications

Clear, consistent, and effective communication is a cornerstone of a powerhouse culture and continually engaging employees, particularly during times of organizational change. Encourage role models from your team to communicate their actions and attitudes. Positive influence from colleagues, leaders, and staff will greatly influence individual behavior.

Reinforce your culture through print and online campaigns. When individuals see that organizational structures, processes, and systems support the changes they are being asked to make, your people will become more confident while implementing those changes.

  1. The Family Room: Focusing on whole-employee wellbeing

Today’s employees need proactive, continual, and real-time feedback, not just a retrospective award. They want to be appreciated as whole people, not just as employees. By viewing engagement holistically—a 24/7 strategic approach, rather than 9-to-5—companies will see an uptick in success.

Inspire employees and create greater engagement through initiatives in the following key areas:

  • Performance: How your employees excel at work, including sales and productivity goals.
  • Career: How your people succeed in the future and are rewarded in the present, through training courses, leadership tracks, service anniversaries, and more.
  • Wellness: Helping your employees create a secure and balanced life—physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
  • Social: Ways in which employees and managers recognize and reward each other, such as peer-to-peer awards, spot nomination, and above-and-beyond recognition.
  • Community: How your employees improve the world around your company, including employee referral, volunteerism, citizenship, and eco-groups.  

To enhance your employee well-being program, consolidate your current initiatives on one platform that maximizes participant engagement and reduces administrative costs. Analyze historical data to optimize and proactively grow your current programs.

  1. The Insurance Policy: Promoting and nurturing continual employee growth

According to a recent WorldatWork study, as the number of results-driven programs grows, engagement, motivation, and satisfaction also increase. As your participants build momentum, increasing the number of initiatives will benefit your bottom line and propel a thriving culture.

Expand your program with new initiatives, touching on each foundational element—performance, career, wellness, social, and community. Harness the personal experience of your participants to improve the program engagement and, in turn, return on investment (ROI).

A series of fully actualized employee programs will drive your people to create continual improvement and progress toward a powerhouse culture, no matter what obstacles business disruptions might bring.

By consolidating initiatives onto one powerful platform with the ability to promote employee well-being, boost engagement, and increase ROI, you will create a unified team of employees able to weather disruptions and turn a culture of sticks into one of bricks.

Christina Zurek creates business strategies and market plans that enable ITA Group ( to deliver innovative incentive, recognition, and well-being solutions. As a Solution manager, she leverages her passion for motivating and engaging people alongside more than 10 years of solution development and marketing experience to craft compelling solutions that drive positive, measurable change for clients. Zurek is accountable for market definition, competitive research, business and marketing plan vision and development, and internal training and execution. ITA Group creates and manages incentives, events, and recognition programs that align and motivate people. Headquartered in West Des Moines, IA, ITA Group has operations in every region of the United States and award solutions for 75-plus countries globally.


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