How To Make the Case for Company Culture to Leadership

 Woman pitches her business case for culture with data visuals on her laptop screen

Benefits of Company Culture Changing company culture

Turn skepticism into conviction and ensure that your leadership not only understands the value of a great workplace culture but also becomes its strongest advocate.

Recently, I hosted a webinar on leadership behaviors that drive retention, and I was struck by the depth of curiosity and engagement from all of you. We unpacked some crucial data, but it left us with a big question: How do we get the folks upstairs — you know, the CEO, the Directors, and the management team — to buy into this? How do we convince them that investing in culture isn’t just another line item, but a game-changer for our organizations?

It reminds me of that old saying about leading a horse to water but not being able to make it drink. We’ve got all this great information on why a strong, positive culture is key to employee retention, but getting leadership to take that sip and really taste the benefits — well, that’s a different story.

It’s about shifting the perspective from seeing employees as just numbers or resources to recognizing them as the heart and soul of what makes our companies thrive.

Turning insights into action

They key is to show the leader not just the financial benefits, but also how culture aligns with their personal goals of being a respected leader.

First, I’d talk about the costs. For example, did you know it costs about $4,700 on average just to replace an employee? And that’s being conservative. That figure doesn’t even count the training costs or the dip in productivity when someone leaves. It’s a big deal for the bottom line.

Calculations show that US average turnover rate of 3.8% means 1,000 person organizations cop costs of at least $178,600 per year

Make the business case for culture

Then, I’d bring up how a happy and engaged team has been proven to drive the business forward. People work better when they feel valued and understood, which in turn boosts the company’s performance. I’d suggest using tools like the research-backed Great Place To Work Trust® Index™ Survey, which is designed to measure and improve on the specific elements of company culture that lead to business success.

Companies with standout cultures see fewer people leaving, meaning less money and time spent on hiring and training new staff. They also have engaged teams who are less likely to suffer from burnout, boosting productivity. In these environments, innovation isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a daily reality. And when the economy dips, these companies are the ones quick to recover.

Tap their desire to become a respected leader

But what really seals the deal: Leaders want to be remembered for the right reasons. So, I’d appeal to that intrinsic desire to be a respected and effective leader. Earning a certification like Great Place To Work Certification™ can be a huge badge of honor for them. It shows their peers that they’re doing right by their team, and that’s something to be proud of.

Certification also signals to investors that your company is more than just talk when it comes to ESG (environmental, social & governance). According to a recent IBM study, 70% of employees find sustainability programs make employers more appealing.

I’d also suggest starting small – maybe try these strategies in one team and see the results. It’s less risky that way and can demonstrate the tangible benefits.

Finally, it’s all about communication. Setting up a meeting, having open and honest discussions, and using confidential surveys like the Trust Index to get real feedback from employees can make a huge difference. It all starts with employee listening.

So, if you can combine the hard facts with that personal touch, you’ll be more successful at convincing leadership. Show them it’s not just good for business, but it’s also something that can make them a leader people will look up to.

Join the dots between culture and business outcomes

Ready to get granular on how your company’s culture is really doing? Our Trust Index Survey is your go-to tool. It gives you the data and insights to boost your team’s performance by enhancing your workplace culture. If you’re curious about how it all works and keen to see the kind of impact it can have on your business, let’s chat. Reach out to our team and let’s dive into how Great Place To Work can be your partner for building – and maintaining – a thriving, high-performance culture.

Claire Hastwell