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A detailed assessment of current culture and relevant trends—as well as dozens of insights for leveraging it—won’t do any organisation any good if it never leaves these pages. 

We challenge you to synthesise and leverage this information to improve your culture. And we encourage you to take specific action (beyond emailing this report to someone up or down the org chart).

Each of us must work deliberately to create great cultures because they don’t happen spontaneously, and those that change by themselves inevitably change for the worse.

This year and next will be watersheds for all employers. Organisations will either intentionally position themselves to thrive for the next decade, or default to a path of fragmented disengagement, turnover, and less-than-inspired work. The stakes are that high and that clear.

Now is the time to move forward. With so much unknown, seize this rare opportunity to shed old practices, policies, or philosophies that would otherwise stop you from integrating new technology in meaningful ways, maximising the power of recognition, and becoming an inclusive place for all employees.

We recommend starting by crafting a culture strategy and action plan that’s focused, with specific milestones to hit as you transition from your existing culture to your aspirational vision. The following steps can help you design and create a culture that thrives:

1. Discover

Where are you now? Where do you want to be? Assess your culture honestly to determine your baselines. This can include a survey, but you may also want to dive deeper with focus groups, interviews, or co-creation sessions. Pinpoint opportunities to improve and establish metrics. Define what success will look like for each group and your organisation as a whole.

2. Plan

How will you get there? Develop a strategy that’s aligned to your organisation’s purpose. Design specific experiences you want your people to have at work. Include leaders at the executive level as well as frontline managers to validate and support your strategy.

3. Activate

What tools will you use to help guide your culture in the direction you want it to go? This is where everything comes together. Rally culture-building champions and educate and inspire leaders. Communicate frequently to promote and grow your initiatives and programs. Above all, make the leap from ideas to action.

4. Optimize

How can you ensure you get the most from your efforts? Measure the impact of your culture solutions and look for insights to help improve and set new standards. Feed the momentum.

Improving culture is a journey, and in the midst of current challenges it may not be convenient. But decisive steps forward are exactly what employees need to feel confident. Taking action is a powerful antidote to the feelings of powerlessness that come with crises. And fortune still favors the brave.

We wish you every success as you synthesise new insights with your best thinking to create powerful employee experiences and a thriving culture for the coming decade.


“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


The O.C. Tanner Institute uses multiple research methods to support the global culture report, including interviews, focus groups, cross-sectional surveys, and a longitudinal survey.

Qualitative findings came from 12 focus groups and 77 interviews among employees and leaders of larger organisations. The groups were held in December 2019. Each group represented various types of employers, including both private and public entities.

Quantitative findings came from online survey interviews administered to employees across Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The total sample size is 40,175 workers at companies with 500+ employees. Fieldwork took place in March, April, May, and June 2020. The O.C. Tanner Institute collected and analysed all survey data. This sample is sufficient to generate meaningful conclusions about the cultures of organisations in the included countries. However, because the study does not include population data, results are subject to statistical errors customarily associated with sample-based information.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from the O.C. Tanner Institute.

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