Why Marketers Should Care About the Health of Their Internal Culture

A Research Summary for Marketing Leaders

Copyright © 2012, The Forum: Business Results Through People.

Major Issues Facing Marketing Executives

The task facing today’s Marketing executives is daunting. Not only are we weathering a precarious economic storm, but we are charged with doing even more with less and faster than ever before. Further, we are faced with unprecedented options for customers to consume advertising and marketing messages only to find that we are lost among the noise.

So what advantage do you have over your competition? Your employees:

What This Research Has Revealed

Contrary to past research on the link between employee engagement and business outcomes, this research (“Linking Organizational Characteristics to Employee Attitudes and Behaviors – A Look at the Downstream Effects on Market Response & Financial Performance”) focuses on employees who have no face-to-face contact with an organization’s customers. This is a particularly intriguing angle given the rise of service and internet based organizations where in-person interaction is limited or even non-existent. These channels are often the most difficult for Marketers to successfully navigate.

This research has identified a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance. Further, it found that satisfied employees see their positive attitudes transferred directly to satisfied customers. This is a powerful message for employees to hear and Marketers to understand and reinforce throughout the internal culture of their organization.

Particularly interesting for Marketing professionals, this research has identified several key findings that should be considered when designing marketing campaigns and allocating budgets.

  • Organizations with engaged employees have customers who use their products more, and increased customer usage leads to higher customer satisfaction.
  • It’s an organization’s employees who influence the behavior and attitudes of customers.
  • An organizational environment where employees are given a voice should be highly valued.
Ideas for Applying This Research 
to Your Business

This powerful research provides Marketers with another ingredient to use when looking to creatively leverage the power of precious advertising and marketing budgets. Undoubtedly your internal resource pool is rich with knowledgeable, passionate, energetic employees who, with the right organizational culture, can translate employee satisfaction and engagement into highly valued customers who keep coming back.

  • Support company employee engagement programs. Marketers should partner with their Human Resource organization and collaborate on the design of a company-wide employee engagement program. Consider devoting a portion of the annual Marketing / Advertising budget to specific employee-facing initiatives that link internal and external brand advocacy actions.
  • Involve employees in the design of external marketing initiatives. Just as important as the Voice of Customer, leverage the Voice of Employee. They are a great resource for creative options and an important front line for feedback. As committed participants in the process, they’ll be more apt to promote and defend the ideas.
  • Partner with company leadership to promote a strong internal culture. This research identified that a significant driver of employee engagement is organizational culture. Optimally, employees must be expected to cooperate and work together (Constructive) yet also take charge and provide a voice for the customer within the organization (Competitive).



Research Basis

This executive summary is based on the groundbreaking research study, Linking Organizational Characteristics to Employee Attitudes and Behavior – A Look at the Downstream Effects on Market Response & Financial Performance, conducted by Dr. James Oakley, Purdue University at the direction of Forum Research Chair, Dr. Frank Mulhern, Northwestern University. While the original study was published in 2003, the basis remains relevant today. 

About the Forum 

The Forum: Business Results Through People, (formerly Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement) affiliated with Northwestern University, is an organizational trust for thought leadership advocating that the most effective way business leaders can create and sustain organizational value is through their partnership with people. The Forum promotes a people-centered leadership approach by: providing relevant, provocative, and actionable academic research; creating a platform for leaders to dialog, network and benchmark practices; delivering ideas for practical action and experimentation; and, building and supporting a community of champions for people-centered leadership.


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