How do you create the right company culture?

Marlies Pellikaan

When I participate in round tables with top executives, I often notice that they project their own core values onto the total workforce. For example, when I ask what they think is important for their employees, they say: “Our people value only one thing and that is growth.” These companies often neglect needs such as connection, security and making a meaningful contribution.

How do you create the right company culture?

Basic needs

If an organization is not doing well, it’s often because one or more basic needs are systematically neglected. As a result, employees leave, or customers, or both. Because a chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

What is employee onboarding? The definitive Effectory guide

Every person has about six basic needs, from security, to a challenge and making a socially meaningful contribution. Just read the great thinkers. From Sigmund Freud to Viktor Frankl, from Carl Gustav Jung to Abraham Maslow. A good employer responds to all these needs.

More permanent contracts

Sometimes you have to do the opposite of what you’re used to.

For example, there are many organizations that are enormously focused on creating the most flexible workforce possible. As a result, they don’t meet the basic need for security that many employees have. If they come at all, they will still be looking for an employer who can offer that.

Such an employer can easily prevent this by offering permanent contracts more quickly.
This can make a huge difference to an employee, because he or she can suddenly take out a mortgage, for example.


And if you want to offer employees more meaning: make sure that you exude something other than creating the greatest possible shareholder value.

Because, over time, even ambitious employees can look differently at their work. If they feel that they are only working for a money factory, it can start to bother them that their work makes no social contribution.

This happens even sooner when their company operates in a hyper-business environment. After a while, they can get tired of fighting in this fast world. Or they hit a brick wall in the form of a burnout.

Commitment and passion

There are also organizations that have a huge amount of repetitive work. These companies can still make a big difference by looking for ways to make the work less mind-numbing.

Ensure that employees who need variety are given as much responsibility as possible for their own work area. No matter how small that autonomy is. If you are a shelf filler, your work can become more fun if some shelves always belong to you.

You can change the work experience of employees considerably with relatively minor changes. And with that, their involvement and passion.

Whitepaper: Engagement and commitment

Employees who are both engaged and committed put their heart into both their work and the organisation. A winning combination for any organisation.


Do something about high turnover

How can you discover which basic needs your organizations systematically overlook?

The trick is to go beyond your own frame of reference. You can do that, for example, by planning a one-hour meeting for the management team. Together, take the time to think about each basic need for ten minutes: to what extent do we meet each of the six basic needs?

This is how you find out where your organization has a blind spot. And you immediately have an idea why some employees will not be attracted to your organization or will be leaving very soon after they arrive.


Can an organizational culture be changed? Social innovation is a proven method for this.

Suppose the organization lacks connection. Then make an appeal. Who within the organization wants to help think about how we can change that?

This appeal will be attractive to employees who consider that basic need important. Ask this brainstorm group to advise on six measures. Set a number of parameters, like a maximum budget. But then take a step back, so that these employees feel enough freedom to come up with really new ideas. This way, your organization can really innovate from within.

Employee happiness

Do you really have to address all basic needs? Or is that not always necessary?

A few years ago I visited a company that was proclaimed as one of the best employers. I had come by to discover what their secret was. But the lady at the reception didn’t chat. Wherever I looked, I saw tense faces and cold looks. I could not detect a trace of connection or idealism. Was this a best employer?

Yet this was a company where people were eager to work. The numbers spoke for themselves. How could that be? I soon realized that reason was simple: the employees who felt attracted to this organization thought other things were important than I did. They were mainly interested in getting ahead and making money. Just like their employer.

So they shared the same core values. In a certain way, that made them happy. And at the same time I felt a lot less comfortable there.

The right company culture

What is the right company culture? That depends on what kind of organization you are. And for which talents you want to be attractive. And for which customers, because they must also feel a click with the company.

There are organizations with a mono-culture that function well. That is proven by the example. They attract a very specific type of employee. Employees who deviate from this prevailing norm usually leave screaming within two months.

Other organizations flourish precisely because of their diversity. They appeal to a broad customer group. They are attractive for many different kinds of employees.

Theme research

What about your organization? If you want to investigate which basic needs your company has most neglected so far, you could, if you like, start with theme research. Convert the feedback from your employees on one specific theme into targeted improvement actions. We can help you with a customized questionnaire. This is how you work toward the right company culture within your organization.

Theme survey for organizations

Investigate the issues that stand in the way of your organization’s growth and success

view solution

Employee Insights

Increase employee engagement through action-oriented feedback. Using a single platform, you can collect reliable data, analyze the results, and share insights.

view employee survey solution