By Victor Assad

Organizations that want to improve their productivity, innovation, and financial performance won’t address all the issues by focusing on employee engagement. Instead, they’ll get much better results if they focus on culture.

Even Gallup, which has been tracking employee engagement for 22 years, says that employers focusing on culture already score better on employee engagement. According to Gallup, while only 32 percent of US employees overall are engaged, the organizations Gallup studies that focus on culture have more than doubled this percentage to 70 percent employee engagement.

Culture over only employee engagement

Why is a focus on culture, and not just employee engagement, crucial for boosting productivity, innovation, and financial performance?

At InnovationOne, we are not surprised by Gallup’s reporting that organizations focusing on culture and employee values have two times the employee engagement scores of other organizations in their client base. Afterall, employee engagement is part of an organization’s culture that measures the workforce’s alignment with the organization’s vision, employee development, and the relationships among co-workers and between employees and managers. Culture, especially cultures of innovation, include additional critical dimensions such as the following:

  • executive leadership that promotes its innovation agenda and unleashes employee creativity within the strategic focus of the company
  • more action-orientated and transparent strategic planning
  • organizational learning
  • well understood and responsive idea management systems
  • executive empowerment of productivity improvement or innovation project teams
  • alignment of the organization’s function to support innovation
  • changing the performance management and reward system to support idea generation and cooperation and the commercialization of innovation

Culture focuses on the whole organization, including the behaviors and unwritten habits of employees and how and why the organization’s leadership makes decisions. According to our research, a focus on culture is six times more comprehensive than employee engagement. And it comes with great rewards.  According to our over 25 years of research and publishing over 30 peer-reviewed academic papers with the InnovationOne Culture Index©, companies that focus on innovation cultures, scoring in the top quartile of our index of more than 300 companies, have 22 percent higher financial performance than companies scoring in the lowest quartile.

Our recently completed joint study with the US Department of Energy shows that higher innovation culture scores improve R&D lab performance. In fact, improving a culture score by just one point (on a 100-point scale) can increase performance in innovation, commercial deployments, partnerships with industry, and academic publications by up to 30 percent.

Culture and innovation can be measured and managed. You can measure and ignite your innovation intelligently.

12 Cultural Drivers of Innovation

The 12 drivers of innovation are shown in the graphic adjacent. Taken as a complete set, they drive culture change and improved performance, beginning with the behaviors of executives Why Use InnovationOne to Improve Your Innovation Culture and managers to the alignment of the organization’s performance management system, metrics, and sales, marketing, and operations to support innovation.

Two drivers, Employee Connectivity and Employee Empowerment, assess most of what a typical employee engagement survey measures. Employee Connectivity assesses how employees believe they are valued, treated with equity, included, respected, and allowed to learn and contribute to the organization. Employee Empowerment evaluates the level at which teams and employees feel safe generating ideas, improvising with innovation, acting on opportunities, and making decisions within known parameters to speed up, slow down, change course, and even cancel projects.

The other 10 drivers go beyond typical employee engagement surveys to assess more of the organization’s holistic culture and capability to innovate. These drivers add extra analysis and insights to move the organization’s culture forward.

Our assessment is more comprehensive than employee engagement measures – and is more valuable and instructive to the organization’s executive leadership.

Improve your organization’s culture

The next time you are thinking about taking an employee engagement survey, we encourage you to consider an upgrade. Why not use an assessment that allows you to focus on improving your organization’s culture. Use the InnovationOne Culture Index©.

We provide a clear path to improve your organization’s culture and benefit from improved productivity, innovation, employee engagement and financial performance. We invite you to read the Seven traits of highly innovative organizations that drive improved financial performance and contact us to learn more.

Contact us for a complimentary discussion.

About InnovationOne®, LLC.

InnovationOne®, LLC helps organizations worldwide build a culture of innovation and make it sustainable. InnovationOne® uses a scientifically developed assessment to measure, benchmark, and improve your company’s culture and capability to innovate and enjoy better outcomes and financial results. Companies scoring in the top quartile of our InnovationOne Culture Index© reported higher financial performance than bottom quartile performers by as much as 22 percent. Measure and ignite your culture of innovation.

About Victor

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and Managing Partner of InnovationOne, LLC. He works with organizations to transform HR and recruiting, implement remote work, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and innovation cultures. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: The Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. He is quoted in business journals such as The Wall Street Journal, Workforce Management, and CEO Magazine. Victor has partnered with The Conference Board on innovation research. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at