Transformation beyond digital

“Organizational culture for me is the way things are done around here.” This is how Alejandra Nadruz, director of People and Culture at Softplan, describes this concept, which is being increasingly addressed in the corporate world. 

One of the factors that makes the subject more popular are the advances brought about by digital transformation, making it take on new contours over the last few years. In fact, also in Alejandra's words, “if we start from the premise that technology is not the end, but rather the means to make people's lives easier”, we will have increasingly inclusive organizational cultures in the coming decades.

However, “we need to think of organizational culture not as something abstract or immaterial, but rather as a pragmatic concept that is fully applicable in the day-to-day lives of companies”, reinforces the director.

In this report, Alejandra Nadruz explains how to face this challenge and the positive impacts of digital transformation on company culture. Continue reading and understand why institutions that invest in developing this concept earn more.

Why do companies that invest in organizational culture have better results?

One of the search performed by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that the financial performance of companies that prioritize organizational culture, in the context of digital transformation, was five times bigger than those that did not focus on this topic.

On the other hand, a lifting carried out by Futuro S/A (consultancy in cultural transformation, actions and HR performance), with 222 professionals, pointed out that 65% of respondents They believe that there is still a lot of inconsistency between what is said and what is actually practiced in the company when it comes to culture.

This incongruity can be illustrated by a third study, carried out by the Gallup Institute in 2022. The survey, carried out with 800 North American workers, points out that one of the main reasons why people leave companies is precisely the fact that they do not have a cultural “fit” with the institution.

“According to the Gallup study, these people are resigning for three main reasons: 'I have conflicts with leadership' (I can't stand my boss), 'I don't have autonomy in my role' or 'I don't adapt to the organizational culture'” , explained Alejandra.

According to her, this movement – ​​which became known globally as “Great Resignation” and which significantly affects Brazil – shows that voluntary dismissal requests have been causing billions in financial losses for companies.

An effective way for a company to be shielded from this challenge is to invest in a more diverse and horizontal culture. Alejandra therefore assumes some positive short, medium and long-term impacts for companies that invest in this aspect: 

Greater employee retention

Changing culture in companies reduces turnover and increases employee retention. To get an idea of ​​the effects of the “Great Renunciation” in Brazil, in 2022, almost seven million Brazilians voluntarily resigned.  

This is equivalent to the entire population of the state of Maranhão and corresponds to a third of the total number of dismissals recorded in the country. The data comes from the General Register of Employed and Unemployed Persons (Caged), compiled by LCA Consultants.

One of the conclusions of the research is that, although there are many “Brazils” in the world of formal work, low-skilled labor makes up the majority of these scenarios. In this sense, people who have an additional level of qualification end up acquiring this “bargaining power” by voluntarily resigning.

More agile and productive teams

Companies that invest in organizational culture are able to have teams that are more aligned with agile methodologies, which is essential for employee satisfaction and also for team productivity.

In Alejandra's view, agile work models They are also at the heart of the relationship between culture and digital transformation in companies, as technology allows functions to be performed more efficiently.

To support her reasoning, she cites the book “Values-Driven Organization”, by British author Richard Barrett. The work, which relates culture to engagement, describes in detail why the most engaged people are those who bring the most results.

Engaged, motivated and satisfied teams 

Speaking of engagement, the annual report from the Gallup Institute (2022) shows that, in a universe of around 160 thousand workers, only 23% of them actually feel engaged with the company they work for. The main reason highlighted in the research for this is the employee's incompatibility with the corporate culture.

Also according to the report, 60% of workers are operating in “Quiet Quitting” mode, from a perspective that could be freely translated as the “law of least effort”. In other words, disengaged professionals are making as little effort as possible to stay in a job until they get a better opportunity.

Organizational culture and innovation culture: what is the relationship?

Even though the institution has a organizational culture well-established, if there is no incentive for autonomy and space for innovative practices, the organizational climate can be affected, as well as the results. 

Regarding this relationship, Alejandra raises an important question: “What do we understand by innovation? Talking about disruptive innovation is very difficult. Not everyone can send a rocket to the moon.” With this consideration, it signals that we should talk about innovation as an initiative, a path and a “improve the way of doing things".

In the talent director's view, innovation has been very romanticized, especially in this disruptive sense. “There are very few companies that carry out disruptive innovation. Therefore, the ideal would be to think from a more realistic perspective: How can we innovate today? What opportunities do we have within our own work? Then we would have a more applicable culture of innovation”, she ponders.

And what is needed to align digital transformation and company culture? 

There is no doubt that digital transformation impacts company culture. But Alejandra Nadruz reminds us that these impacts will only be positive if some aspects are prioritized. Otherwise, new technologies will not be exploited to their full potential.

If the structure remains hierarchical, digital advances remain restricted to the top level of companies. The configuration of more horizontal cultures, therefore, becomes a prerequisite for aligning digital transformation with organizational culture.

“Before thinking about new technologies to support our work, we need to empower employees so that they feel encouraged to dialogue with leaders. In the same way, we need to create leaders willing to listen”, says Alejandra.

Still from the director's perspective, all innovation requires dialogue and open doors. In this sense, there is no way to implement a culture of digital transformation if communication in the company is vertical.

Another decisive point in this relationship is diversity. It's important to have people with different stories creating together. And when we talk about diversity, it is not just demographic, but, above all, cognitive.

In fact, one of the impasses in the alignment between digital transformation and culture in companies is that, often, this diversity only occurs on a theoretical level. That is, the company preaches a discourse of inclusion but, in practice, continues to reproduce the same hierarchical pattern as traditional structures. Therefore, there needs to be cultural consistency, making speeches translated into practice.

Culture of digital transformation at Softplan

Still on the topic of diversity in companies, Alejandra makes a point of reinforcing that technology is a very powerful tool for inclusion: “Without technological support, many people would have a much greater difficulty performing their roles in companies”.

She illustrates this reasoning by citing the Transform Movement, from Softplan. “'Transforma' is based on some pillars that we consider essential. When we launched this People Management Model, we included the diversity and inclusion initiative within the 'evolution' pillar, as the message we wanted to convey is that we will only evolve if we work with diverse people”, he comments.

Strengthening organizational culture in practice

To beyond the softplan, the talent director cites other initiatives she took to strengthen organizational culture in corporate practice. She was guided by what she calls “cultural consistency” that she brought to paper very important projects for the implementation of digital transformation in companies.

“Technology impacts people’s lives. And this consequently changes the actions of these people”, explains the director. In her role as culture manager, she recalls the digitalization of service points in major brand stores, which helped democratize access to knowledge for customers and users of those solutions.

A similar situation occurred in the digitalization of service points in bank branches, in an initiative also led by Alejandra with the intention of add value to the customer experience in the physical environment. 

This is also why she questions the generic conceptualization of what is meant by digital transformation: “It seems that this term is a bag that fits everything”. But, from the moment we realize that digital transformation is about using technology as a means and not as an end, then we can say that there has actually been transformation, that is, that technology has made the daily lives of employees easier. ”

Putting people at the center is the bridge between technology and organizational culture

There is much debate about the impacts of the massive implementation of new technologies in companies. If artificial intelligence devices begin to digitally conduct all production logic, what will happen to basic positions within companies? “If we automate everything, what will we do with interns, assistants and other operational-level positions?” asks Alejandra.

Far from feeling threatened by this context, she herself points out a path: “Cultural change in companies starts with people.” For her, this is the biggest challenge facing the HR sectors today, “but not just nowadays”, she considers.

“Prioritizing organizational culture in companies is a historic challenge. When we begin to understand culture as something central, we understand that people are also central. Therefore, we need to create solutions based on people, and not in spite of people”, he reinforces.

In this context, it is not enough for a company to say that its HR is strategic if this does not impact the company's daily life. Once again, we are faced with the concept of “cultural consistency”, that is, the alignment between theory and practice that institutions need to cultivate.

After all, the only possible strategy is the one that brings results. And these results necessarily involve the cultivation of a more diverse and inclusive culture within companies.

About Alejandra Nadruz

In love with people. This is how the director of People and Culture at Softplan, Alejandra Nadruz, defines herself in her more than twenty-year career as a teacher, mentor and consultant for people and companies seeking a better and fairer world.

Along this path, Nadruz led a series of projects related to organizational culture in large companies, involving culture design, education, employee experience, internal communication, storytelling, brand and product value proposition, digital/content marketing and some more. .

Since January 2023, he has been heading the People and Culture team at Softplan. Alejandra Nadruz also leads other multidisciplinary projects and speaks at events that help people connect through transformative stories and experiences.

Alejandra Nadruz

Alejandra Nadruz

Born in Uruguay, she has lived in Brazil since 2010 and, throughout her career, has worked in different companies and positions, such as Human Resources Manager, Head of People, Culture and Marketing. His academic background is a Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Republic of Montevideo, in Uruguay, as well as an Executive MBA in Human Resources from ORT University. She also has a Bachelor's degree in Pedagogy and a Master's degree in Strategic Business Management from the University of León, in Spain. Alejandra is passionate about people: teacher, mentor, consultant for people and companies that seek and want a better and fairer world. Currently, she is the People & Culture Director of the Softplan group and focuses on structuring teams, business growth and scalability in the market.

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