Employee Leasing Challenges to Corporate Culture

corporate culturePeter F. Drucker, the management guru who knew more than a little about transformational theory in modern business, addressed the issue of corporate culture in Managing for the Future (1993). He taught that corporate culture is a big ship to turn around, faulting those newly placed executives who set their sight on reinventing the organization’s culture. He wrote, “Culture — no matter how defined — is singularly persistent. . . In fact, changing behavior works only if it can be based on the existing ‘culture’.”

Professor Drucker felt that any and all effort expended on changing culture is misdirected and counter-productive. In this article we expand on this thinking and then show how it applies to a company moving into a relationship with an employee leasing firm.

Is Corporate Culture Real?

Any business operation has goals, structure, and strategy. It looks at workers, customers, stakeholders, and its community from a certain perspective. That perspective arises from shared values, standards, and beliefs. Intentional or not, these attitudes form a culture.

Every business culture is unique to that operation. But, when it does not foster and encourage performance, the business fails. For example, executives may espouse all sorts of high road goals and purposes, but if the workforce does not feel the passion because of their working conditions, wages, or benefits, the business ambition will fail.

Culture appears in socializing, symbols, and stories. In constructive cultures, workers appear comfortable and at ease in their work and interpersonal relationships. They seem secure in exchanges with co-workers and with management. They relish teamwork and leadership roles, and they volunteer for community work.

Culture, good or bad, becomes ingrained and systemic, so if it forms the sinews and circulation of an organization, it will only change very slowly and reluctantly.

Where does the culture lie?

Where does it lie? Josh Patrick writes, “Culture always starts with the owner. In companies where culture is well-defined, it is reflected in every hiring decision.” High-performance on the part of leadership raises performance among the workforce. A focused, productive workforce follows focused, productive leadership, and such culture is not a matter of posters, slogans, and songs.

And, what of the Employee Leasing Firm?

Some worry about a cleft in culture when the workforce is co-employed. And, poorly handled, the transition to the employee leasing arrangement will be counter-productive. There is a concern that these workers may feel disenfranchised or set aside. They may not know whom they are working for or what corporate goals they are working towards. So, the Human Resources accountability for the transition does not end with the signed agreement. Communicate early and often the benefits an employee leasing arrangement brings to the company and the employee.

In addition, the implementation team needs to watch for behavioral concerns:

  • Employees are suddenly quiet on decisive questions.
  • Workers disregard directions and traditions.
  • Progress continues but slows its pace.
  • Team and group discussions go in circles.
  • Gossip and blame increases.

There is nothing fearful or fatal in the nature of an employee leasing agreement. The relationship is sound, productive, and profitable for leadership and employees. The challenge lies in continuing to provide consistent and creative communication over time. Well-planned, structured communication between the implementation team and the employee leasing firm leads to a corporate culture conditioning that welcomes and embraces the new co-employment performance arrangement.