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Employment relations and employee engagement
Employment relations and employee engagement

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3.2 Climate and culture

Schneider et al. (2013, p. 362) defines organisational climate as:

The shared perceptions of and the meaning attached to the policies, practices, and procedures employees experience and the behaviours they observe getting rewarded and that are supported and expected.

This is related to the more general conception of organisational culture which Schneider et al. (2013, p. 362) summarise as:

The shared basic assumptions, values, and beliefs that characterise a setting and are taught to newcomers as the proper way to think and feel, communicated by the myths and stories people tell about how the organisation came to be the way it is as it solved problems associated with external adaptation and internal integration.

Schneider et al. (2013) observe that the key difference between culture and climate is the way in which academic researchers have sought to understand them. Questionnaire-based research dominates empirical studies of climate, while qualitative and case study approaches are more commonly used by culture researchers. Macey et al. (2009, p. 46) note that organisational culture is also seen to be important as it ‘determines engagement at two levels:

  • a.that which creates and releases employee energy through the way they are treated as employees, and
  • b.that which channels that energy into competitive advantage through focusing on the strategy objectives of the firm.’

A further characteristic of research has been the examination of particular forms of climate which prioritise certain organisational outcomes. Examples include:

  • safety climate (e.g. Dollard and Bakker, 2010; Clarke, 2010), which emphasises employees’ perceptions of safety-related policies and values, particularly understandings of management attitudes to risk and commitment to safe practice
  • ethical climate (e.g. Stewart et al., 2011) which emphasises employees’ perceptions of the commitment to an ethical code that is effectively communicated and managed
  • service climate (e.g. Hong et al., 2013) which emphasises employees’ perceptions of the organisation’s commitment to quality and understanding of how management rewards and improves quality-orientated behaviours.