Many service companies rely on skilled, personable employees to satisfy customers, but finding them can be costly; in some industries the annual churn rate exceeds 50%. Weak labor markets and click-to-apply online applications increase the burden on companies, which may get hundreds of applicants for a single opening. Consider the British call center industry: In 2012, 7 million people applied for 260,000 jobs.

Most companies have a standard hiring regimen: Recruiters start by reviewing résumés, move on to phone or face-to-face interviews with the most promising candidates, and then draw on various tests, often including psychometric tests, to determine which applicants are the best fit.

Our research suggests that this approach is backward. Many service companies, including retailers, call centers, and security firms, can reduce costs and make better hires by using short, web-based psychometric tests as the first screening step. Such tests efficiently weed out the least-suitable applicants, leaving a smaller, better-qualified pool to undergo the more costly personalized aspects of the process.

The test-first approach makes sense for several reasons. Evidence suggests that many more applicants today—by some estimates, nearly 50%—embellish their CVs than did so in the past, reducing the utility of résumés as initial screening tools. At the same time, the advent of web-based psychometric tests has made testing less expensive and more convenient. And recent research across industries shows that these tests are good predictors of performance.

We have studied how a variety of industries use the Dependability and Safety Instrument (DSI), an 18-question online assessment developed by the British test publisher SHL (which employs two of this article’s coauthors). A UK energy company concerned about absenteeism gave the DSI to 136 new employees and tracked their absences over the following six months; it found that workers who scored in the highest 30% of the group were 2.3 times as likely to have perfect attendance as workers who scored in the bottom 30%. A security company gave the test to 72 drivers and learned that the bottom 30% had five times as many accidents in six months as the top 30%. Research in hotel, customer service, retail, and video outlets in Australia and Europe has yielded similar patterns.

Other tests also show great promise. For example, a large UK-based supermarket chain recently began using a customized online situational judgment test to screen out the bottom 25% of applicants before reviewing CVs. Because the candidates called in for interviews were therefore better qualified, the average number seen for each successful hire fell from six to two—saving 73,000 hours of managerial time.

Some other firms have begun using tests in this way, but the practice is still fairly uncommon: Globally, companies spend less than $750 million a year on psychometric testing. If more service firms took this approach at the start of the hiring process, they would reap a better workforce and streamline a function that consumes enormous resources.


Bateson, J., Wirtz, J., Burke, E., & Vaughan, C. (November, 2013). When Hiring, First Test, and Then Interview. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/11/when-hiring-first-test-and-then-interview?referral=03759&cm_vc=rr_item_page.bottom.




Culture is the environment that surrounds us all the time. A workplace culture is the shared values, belief systems, attitudes and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share. This is shaped by individual upbringing, social and cultural context. In a workplace, however, the leadership and the strategic organizational directions and management influence the workplace culture to a huge extent. A positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.

Research by Deloitte has shown that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. Deloitte’s survey also found that 76% of these employees believed that a “clearly defined business strategy” helped create a positive culture.

How can organizations create a positive workplace culture?

  1. Establish clear ethos and values for the organization: It is important to have a set of clear organizational core values that are communicated effectively and discussed with the employees so that they feel part of it. It is the commitment that an organization or a company makes to certain policies and actions, such as “going green” or “social change”. It is not enough to state this in the mission statement, brand story or in marketing and promotional material. It is crucial that demonstrable actions are taken regularly so that the employees feel an individual and personal responsibility towards these values. This will ensure that they can evaluate their own attitudes towards these positive core values, and take pride in them. Positive attitudes and positive actions make for a positive workplace culture.
  2. Foster collaboration and communication: Leadership and management style that encourages teamwork, open and honest communication is vital to creating a positive feeling in the workplace. Open and honest communication also means that regular audits are taken to evaluate how people are interacting with each other, feedback is welcomed and taken on board, and opportunities for social interaction are enabled. These can include coffee mornings, team getaways and family weekends. This gives an opportunity for team members to nurture and foster connections outside of work. Continued learning opportunities enabling team members to assess their inherent unconscious and implicit biases that can impact their interactions with other employees are crucial. Also, strict no tolerance open door policies and complaint procedure for workplace bullying is crucial for creating a positive collaborative environment.
  3. Create an inclusive work environment: A positive workplace is one where all the employees are valued, supported and nurtured irrespective of gender, sexual orientation or color. All employees should have equal opportunities to progress and equal access to all the perks and rewards on offer. An inclusive workplace is one that values individual differences in the workforce and makes them feel welcome and accepted. Include signage that supports inclusivity, is clear and positive. Language can create confusion and miscommunication. Careful use of language that reinforces the gender-conscious and inclusive ethos, such as that emphasizing the function of space rather than the gender identity of users is important.
  4. Create clear goals and rewards for the employees: The survey by Deloitte showed that 83% of executives and 84% of employees rank having engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s success. Motivated and engaged employees can be created if they are treated equally and have clear goals that they can work towards. Having a transparent policy for progression and promotion offers the staff an opportunity to measure their performance. Measurable performance indicators will mean that there would be healthy competition, but this kind of honest policy statement would help avoid negative feelings and resentment amongst the team members towards each other. When goals are positively reinforced, and achievements are recognized and celebrated, it leads to employees feeling valued which in turn creates a positive feeling in the workplace.

A positive culture in the workplace is essential for fostering a sense of pride and ownership amongst the employees. When people take pride, they invest their future in the organization and work hard to create opportunities that will benefit the organization. By identifying and rewarding those who are actively striving towards creating a positive work culture, and supporting others around them, companies can encourage others to do the same. Positive attitudes and behavior in the workplace are the direct results of effective leadership and a positive management style.


Agarwal, P. 2018. How To Create A Positive Workplace Culture. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/pragyaagarwaleurope/2018/08/29/how-to-create-a-positive-work-place-culture/#12decbdf4272




That’s not the way we do things here, echoes throughout the offices, factories and stores around the world. It signals that workers identify with and want to protect the culture of their workplace.

When people work together regularly, even just three or four, they have a culture that is as important as the work and may be a driver of or obstacle to the mission. Leaders who ignore the powerful force of culture in the workplace do so at their own peril.


What is Culture in the Workplace?

Culture in the workplace involves a system of behaviors, beliefs, attitudes and values. It develops over time and is passed on from one generation of workers to the next. It is also a reflection of what organizational leadership values. For example, the Google workplace culture is based on “10 Things we Know to be True.” These 10 statements drive the company and shape its culture, things like, “The need for information crosses all borders” and “You can be serious without a suit.”

In addition to an overall culture, there are subcultures within an organization. Each team has its own culture. For example, computer engineers may work a flexible schedule and prefer their continuing education via e-learning while human resources representatives work a more traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule and prefer instructor-led training.


Why so Important?

Many workers spend more time at work than they do with their families, so they want that time to be meaningful, enjoyable and productive. Frequently these factors are as important, if not more important than the salary they are paid.

Workplace culture drives employee loyalty. It is easier to attract and retain the best employees when an organization has a dynamic, thriving culture where employees feel valued and enjoy their work. In addition, their perceptions of the workplace may influence the public reputation of the organization.

Companies like SAS and Google frequently top the various lists of best places to work. And, although they offer excellent pay and benefits, the main reason for their ranking is the relationship between the firm and its workers. These firms consistently report profits.


Leadership and Culture

Leadership is a major driver of workplace culture. When leaders are seen as weak or unable to make decisions and employees have little or no understanding of how their work fits into the overall goals of the organization, the culture is driven by bureaucracy and detailed procedures. Teams tend to work in isolated silos and there is little cooperation across teams.

When leaders and workers share the same goals, leaders are decisive, and employees understand their roles and are engaged in the work, the organization has a strong culture. These firms typically reach their strategic objectives and retain employees.


Other Cultural Factors

Language and communication styles act as cultural signals that help an observer understand the environment. For example, in some organizations, it is acceptable for an employee to hold an impromptu hallway meeting with coworkers to discuss a work issue, while in other organizations, all meetings must be scheduled.

Each workplace has its own jargon that sets it apart from other companies and also separates departments in a company. For instance, computer engineers talk about Ethernets and icons, while human resources representatives use terms such as absenteeism and coordination of benefits.

In addition, dress code, workspace allocation (who gets a cubicle and who gets an office), the presence of union agreements, along with state and federal laws that govern the workplace also shape the culture.


Workplace Culture and Change

Many leaders have underestimated the role of workplace culture. Famed management consultant Peter Drucker reportedly said that culture eats change for breakfast. Consequently, many change projects such as process improvement fail due to cultural pressure.

Although the culture of the workplace is not “carved in stone,” it has the strength of history and familiarity to support it. When leaders attempt to change a culture, they are asking employees to move away from a familiar way of doing things to doing them differently. So, unless the pressure to change is consistent, the old way of doing things—the workplace culture—will reassert itself.


Chinn, D. 2019. Culture of the Workplace. Chron. Retrieved from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/culture-workplace-43284.html