CAHRS Board Member Stresses the Importance of Culture

 Entrepreneur's "Culture as the Lynchpin for Business Success" features HP CHRO and CAHRS Advisory Board member Tracy Keogh as she reflects on the importance of culture in these times.

HP was founded on a work culture defined by a ‘contributive’ spirit that has distinguished it from its early days. If most entrepreneurs started out by asking themselves how they could succeed, the founders of HP started out by asking a different question: how could they contribute? Many say that this one principle has helped HP scale the heights it has. Why? Because pivoting company culture towards contribution led the company to contributing to its own success.

And this did not stop at just the approach senior leadership took to business. It was also the value they extended to all employees who were allowed to work four-day weeks, given stock options, provided flexi-time work schedules (before the phrase became a thing!) and treated on the whole like family members.

It is no wonder then that these values are now helping it steer its workforce empathetically through the current pandemic, leveraging the company-wide sense of ownership that HP has always promoted. As the current chief HR officer at HP, Tracy Keogh says, during times of crises, the kind of culture that organizations foster defines how they get through to the other side. HP is doing this by keeping employees at the center of their response to the pandemic. It is keeping channels of communicationopen; it is having leaders model the pivots that the workforce is expected to undertake including the new normal of working from home and arming managers with information to reassure employees with answers when they need them.

A strong, crisis-resilient culture underpins several organizations across domains including Netflix, Apple, and Microsoft. And such companies prove that just as some countries are associated with strong cultural attributes that steers them through tough times, so are businesses.

Be sure to check out Keogh's discussion with HR Studies ILR Professor Chris Collins on "The Future of Work and HR."