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The Impact of Culture on Shared Service Performance and Retention


The best Shared Services organizations deliver value to their customers by carefully balancing cost and service levels, with the objective of gaining efficiencies beyond consolidation through reengineering and continuous improvement efforts.  With the primary levers of People, Process, and Technology, “getting the people part right” is a critical component, where nothing is more important than having employees with the right mindset and focus to achieve superior performance.

Company Experience

A PeercastTM discussion in our Shared Services Leadership research area featured a company that took a proactive approach to developing the culture of the Shared Services organization.  Because of the close proximity of the company’s business units, the implementation was “brownfield”, with many positions filled by current employees.  To get the most from new systems, new leadership, and a new location, it was important to create a different culture and employee attitude that was a distinct shift from the work norms of the past. 

Here are examples of learning they discovered on their journey:

What to do:

  • Culture needs to be evident at the highest level in the organization and cascade (not drip) from there.
  • Keep it alive, and make it evident in everything you do.  Treat culture as an energy force that sends a spark to all employees.
  • Be prepared to change the culture with any and all organizational changes.

Where to be careful:

  • Culture happens whether you plan for it or not.  Unguided, the risk is a loss of control and undesired behaviors.
  • Don’t expect new employees to automatically assimilate into the culture without support or training.
  • Don’t ignore the “water cooler”.  Culture is influenced greatly by the verbal and nonverbal communication that takes place informally between employees.
  • What works somewhere else may not work for you, particularly if employees aren’t included in the process.  For example, without employee involvement, beautiful posters with inspirational comments might not be particularly motivating.

iPollingTM Results Review

A recent iPollingTM question asked member companies to select a statement that best described the culture within their Shared Services organization. Having a distinct culture modeled by strong Shared Services leaders was selected by 31% of responding companies; with another 19% indicating their culture was modeled on the overall corporate culture, but improved.   The balance of responses where evenly split with 25% indicating that culture was very similar to the overall corporate culture, and 25% reporting that the Shared Services culture was still being formed.

iPolling: where does the knowledge base for payroll expatriate | shared services culture

The follow-up question asked whether or not culture within the Shared Services organization made a positive impact on employee performance and retention.  50% indicated the impact was significantly positive, with an additional 33% responding that the impact was moderately positive. The balance of 17% indicated that the culture was still being formed, suggesting that it is too early to tell. 

iPolling: repsonse that best describes the shared services culture

Here are several of the comments from Peeriosity members:

  • We have doubled in size in the past 18 months, so our culture is struggling a bit.
  • We have a very positive culture, which definitely helps in retaining employees.
  • We are a very mission-focused organization and, as a result, we purposefully hire for “fit” and alignment to our mission and values. Our teams very much connect to the values and we connect behaviors to those values. It makes for a very strong mission/values driven culture.
  • Our Shared Services culture is modeled on our corporate culture and enhances/stresses certain aspects of that culture to fit the needs of our people.
  • There is a specific focus on employee development; retention and engagement in the programs run across our GBS team.
  • Overall corporate culture is improving and aligning more closely with SSC culture, bringing more positive interactions between SSC and Corporate teams.

Closing Summary

The most important resource in any Shared Services organization is the employees, so it’s no surprise that “getting the people part right” is critical.  Culture is like the air we breathe – it’s there every moment even though it is sometimes hard to see, yet it plays a vital role for creating the right environment for achieving superior performance.   With attention, culture can be a positive energy force that can be guided and influenced for the benefit of all parties.

How would you characterize the culture within Shared Services at your company?  Does your culture have a positive influence on employee performance and retention? 

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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