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3 Organizational Culture Insights From 2021

In 2021, organizational culture continued on the path of difficult trends set in 2020. Mainly, these trends involve the continued use of remote work, economic challenges, continuous pivoting, lack of clear vision, and turnover.

Check out the biggest changes we’ve seen in the past year and how we can improve them in 2022.

The Great Resignation: A Referendum on Organizational Culture

Organizational Culture Mental Health Effects National Economics

Post Secondary Institutions Take A Hit

The Great Resignation: A Referendum on Organizational Culture

Perhaps Bloomberg Businessweek captured it best when they said that:

Almost half of the world’s workers are considering quitting, according to a Microsoft Corp. survey. About 4 in 10 millennial and Gen Z respondents say they’d leave their job if asked to come back to the office full time, a global survey by advisory company Qualtrics International Inc. found—more than any other generation. Some among older generations have criticized these attitudes as privileged and lazy. But the reality is that working hours have been dropping in richer countries for decades across all age brackets.”

This points to trends that we’ve seen at Boost Innovation indicating that in person work and a generationally blended workplace are creating challenges that are simply not being captured in current data collection.

What Now: Addressing ways to increase the flexibility of the workplace in order to build all skill sets is vital to reducing turnover and building a culture that performs at a high level. Understanding the needs of a diverse group of staff needs to be done in much more effective ways that survey data provides AND the willingness of leaders to adopt growth mindset traits when making decisions is key.

Organizational Culture Mental Health Effects National Economics

Organizational culture quote for nurses in 2021

We reached out to nurses, tech staff, and post secondary instructors in 2021 in order to see what they felt over the last year. They said things like:

“When the sh*t hit the fan, it became more and more clear that they didn’t care about us.”

(Nurse, Northern Alberta, Canada)

“This year it became clear that my boss doesn’t care about us. She cares about keeping her job, and retirement. All anybody here cares about is keeping their job and retirement.”

(University Professor, Washington D.C.)

“I work 6 days a week, but the industry has changed. It’s become more and more difficult to see a pathway to anything but being beaten down.”

(Developer based in San Diego)

These thoughts are connected to what we are seeing in resignations, but also how engaged and committed people are to their work. In order to pursue higher quality of life we see more and more people trending away from working a 9-5 job and living on smaller salaries. This choice leads to something very obvious: less spending/less money back into the economy. When Taiwan’s economy slowed in the early 2000’s we saw many move to gig/freelance employment. Now this is trend is starting in much larger economies like China and the US as well as we see less people want to show up to a job that doesn’t make them happy.

Indicators of organizational culture
Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-12-07/why-people-are-quitting-jobs-and-protesting-work-life-from-the-u-s-to-china

What Now: Finding creative ways to support the mental health and quality of life of everyone in our organization needs to be at a premium. If it isn’t, commitment and engagement drops which will lead to overall performance drop quickly.

Post Secondary Institutions Take A Hit

A full calendar year of wobbly restrictions, adjustments, and direction has caused somewhat of an inflection point in the post secondary sector. Many institutions operate on a financial model that teeters on disaster in any given year. Heavily reliant on enrolment numbers and external funding to support spending that often has little oversight and strategy.

For this case study we go to the small town of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada where an entire university has been allowed to collapse, in part due to the things mentioned in the above paragraph. Laurentian University (click here for current top news articles) doesn’t have any money and it’s due to a drop in enrolment. The pandemic is a factor in this drop but there is also a huge student experience factor combined with over-spending.

That particular institution aside, this culture struggle has exemplified poor culture leadership through the blurring of key information and the government has hidden from the problem. It cannot be assumed that this is an anomaly in post secondary education. Anyone with knowledge of post secondary institution operations knows the extreme ties between viability and student experience. The problem is that students want a different experience, and how we measure the way they feel about it is stuck in the 80’s.

What Now: Measure student experience more effectively and bring them in to major decisions in a meaningful way. Give them board votes, transparency, and support in order to build something meaningful. In most post secondary institutions there is not an adequate way to capture what students want and, because those institutions rely on what students want, most post secondary institutions are in trouble.

Move Forward

In 2022, we hope that more organizations see clarity due to the pandemic. We see an opportunity to respond to the indicators that have been presented during the past couple years. We hope that the majority choose to see and react with decisive action and not just weather the storm and go back to old habits.


Learn more about revolutionizing organizational culture on the Boost Innovation website.

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