A curious workplace culture contributes to attracting and retaining talent, by increasing engagement and reducing burnout among employees.
SAP has found companies that foster a more curious culture* experience major competitive benefits, including higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement according to new research released today.
‘Capitalising on Curiosity’ , a survey of senior business leaders and employees across Australia and New Zealand, found that employees in New Zealand who work for organisations with a curious culture are much more likely to say they are satisfied in their current role (82 per cent) than those who do not work for curious organisations (46 per cent).
Dr Amantha Imber, organisational psychologist and founder of behavioural science consultancy Inventium, says that job satisfaction is affected by how people think and feel about their role.
“When people are satisfied in their role at work, they’re more engaged, productive and loyal to the organisation. Those working in curious organisations are more likely to feel their work has purpose and more likely to be more creative and innovative, which results in better performance and better outcomes.”
Curiosity boosts engagement
Innovative approaches to ways of work and recruitment are more critical than ever. Eight in ten senior business leaders in New Zealand believe a culture of curiosity is important for their organisation, a number that increases slightly to 82 per cent when factoring in the need to adapt and grow in the current challenging business environment.
Workers in organisations with a curious culture are much more likely say they feel engaged at work in their current role than those who say they work in incurious organisations (84 per cent compared to 49 per cent).
And in today’s tight labour market, almost half of employees surveyed (48 per cent) would consider leaving their current role to work for a similar organisation that placed a higher value on curiosity.
The rates are highest in younger workers: 57 per cent of Gen Z and Millennial employees would consider a move to seek out a more curious organisation.
The research also found clear links between curious organisations and reduced employee burnout. Employees who work for curious organisations are more likely to say they haven’t experienced burnout while working at their current role, compared to employees who do not work for an organisation with a curious culture (44 per cent compared to 29 per cent).
David Healy, Chief Digital Officer at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, describes curiosity as a critical factor in the organisation’s success.
“The mundane becomes exciting for curious people. They look at things differently, challenge the status quo, and ultimately drive innovation for customers. That’s why we have built curiosity into our culture; we have a number of groups in the business whose role is purely to do curious work,” said Healy.
“As we move to a more data-led organisation we’re giving them the tools to keep learning, challenging and being curious.”
Curiosity and data intelligence deliver advantage
The research also found that Kiwi employees in more curious companies are better equipped to answer, and more capable of answering, questions using data than those who say their organisation is not curious.
Leaders in organisations who claim to have a very curious culture (41 per cent) are almost four times more likely than those who only somewhat agree they have a very curious culture (11%) to strongly believe their employees have the necessary skills to answer questions from organisational data.
Employees in curious organisations are much more likely to say that their organisation provides the data and tools needed to enable them to seek out answers (82 per cent) compared to those in incurious organisations (49 per cent).
And more of them are comfortable answering questions from organisational data: 81 per cent of employees in curious organisations say they have the necessary skills and confidence versus 66 per cent in those who work for incurious organisations.
Adrian Griffin, Managing Director, SAP New Zealand, said: “An organisation’s ability to truly realise the value of technology comes down to how its people use data to gain insights and make decisions. A curious approach, combined with skill and confidence, enables organisations to make bold, creative and ambitious decisions to deliver innovation and competitive advantage.
“This understanding and confidence is the key to transformation and success for New Zealand organisations, especially in the current unpredictable business environment.”
Barriers to cultivating a curious culture
Despite believing there are positive benefits of having a curious culture, almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) senior business leaders in New Zealand say there are barriers to asking questions and being curious in their organisation, while half (53 per cent) admit that talk about encouraging curiosity is not always supported by action.
Four out of five employees (79 per cent) across the country feel the same, citing the same major barriers: a lack of reward and recognition for curiosity, a lack of drive due to burnout and too much pressure to deliver on short term goals.
Almost half of employees (49 per cent) believe they are not rewarded for their curiosity, two in five (41 per cent) are not given time to be curious at work and over a third (36 per cent) say that asking questions and challenging the status quo is not encouraged within their organisation.
Dr Imber says that being able to challenge and debate ideas and assumptions is critical for building a curious culture.
“Being curious and asking questions, instead of jumping straight to conclusions, takes time. SAP’s research suggests many New Zealand businesses are not giving employees the time or the space to be curious.
“Business leaders who are serious about future proofing their organisation against the current climate of uncertainty need to start role modelling curiosity, giving staff time to explore and experiment, and rewarding curious and creative behaviour within their organisations.”
To view or download a copy of the full ‘Capitalising on Curiosity’ report which includes top tips for how you and your organisation can start building more curious cultures, please visit https://www.sap.com/australia/documents/2022/03/2c739a17-217e-0010-bca6-c68f7e60039b.html.
*For the purposes of the research, a culture of curiosity is defined as an organisational culture where employees are encouraged and enabled to ask questions and seek answers to help organisations run better and meet the needs of their customers, employees and the community.”