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Connecting Culture with Business Performance

Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst | Lighthouse Research & Advisory
3 min read
Employee Experience
Connecting Culture with Business Performance

Every business wants high-performing employees. The value of one of these high performers isn’t just in 10% or 20% higher productivity: Harvard Business Review says the productivity value of a single high-performing worker can be as high as 400%. Imagine if each of your team members was capable of doing the work of four people: could that radically change the performance of your team?

High performers aren’t impossible to find. They gravitate towards other top performers, targeting employers with progressive leadership practices, positive cultures, and an innovative approach to business. By taking that approach, employers can attract, hire, and retain more high-performing workers than the competition.


Research on the Engagement Value Chain 

In a groundbreaking study, our team at Lighthouse Research uncovered some amazing insights into what the best companies do differently to engage their people. High-performing companies are:

  • 37% more likely to use recognition to drive performance
  • 29% more likely to use in-the-moment feedback
  • 26% more likely to consider peer feedback


This points to a clear culture of feedback and recognition, key points for employers that are serious about creating an atmosphere where their workforce can thrive. What’s intriguing is that this study was initiated on the premise that there are innate connections among components like culture, engagement, and business performance (what my team calls the Engagement Value Chain). As I have pointed out previously, engaged workers can lead to more profitable businesses. However, there are more moving parts than just engagement and profitability: the components of culture, engagement, and business performance are deeply linked. We know from a wide variety of research that:

  • Organizational culture can drive market performance
  • Performance practices can drive engagement and market performance
  • Engagement is connected with market performance

These components are all deeply intertwined, and our research effort made inroads in illuminating just how connected they truly are.


Getting Practical: Applying the Research

While these components are hallmarks of high-performing firms, how you apply them makes a difference as well. Employers should measure their culture and engagement with feedback platforms and continuous listening systems. The culture doesn’t just manage itself. It requires a concerted effort to maintain the right path, which is why continuous listening and course correction is the best method for maintaining stability.

In a recent interview with Dana Ullom-Vucelich, the head of HR at Ohio Living, she explained that the firm uses employee feedback and recognition as key pieces for not only creating a happier workforce but one that also hits key business metrics. The company serves more than 70,000 seniors a year with assisted living and medical needs. Ullom-Vucelich has seen that nurses and care workers in areas with more recognition are actually reducing patient readmissions, infection rates, and other critical metrics for a healthcare organization.

The ways you enforce and reinforce the culture daily help to drive performance in your people, which ultimately leads to higher performance for the company. Here are three examples of how employers can identify high performers in innovative ways:

  • Monitor peer feedback to identify “hidden” high performers that others rely on to get their jobs done. Highlight those unsung heroes to reinforce their status as “experts,” and to show them they are appreciated.
  • Examine where innovative ideas and suggestions are coming from. Are there any individuals that share great ideas consistently? If so, can you recognize them as chief innovators to thank them for their contributions and encourage continued vigilance?
  • Use employee surveys to pinpoint any issues or friction points in the culture that might keep people from staying with the organization and minimize or eliminate them to the degree possible.

The bottom line is that the kind of culture you create can impact the business, whether for better or for worse. As pointed out here, there are a variety of ways to create a culture of recognition and high performance, encouraging the workforce to offer their best efforts. 


Guide for high employee engagement

Find the 4 driving forces of engagement split up into 33 solid methods that you can use to be a better leader and raise your team’s performance.

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