Managing your workforce risk

60% of leaders feel culture is more important than strategy. Develop a proactive approach to people risk and be prepared for the workforce of tomorrow.¹

The culture of an organization has never been more important. In the age of transparency, a single incident, such as sexual harassment, bullying, or discrimination, can have a profound and long-lasting effect on brand, reputation, and shareholder value. You need to anticipate and effectively manage your workforce risks to build trust, both with employees and customers.

And if you are hit with a crisis that impacts your culture, you want to be ready to respond and emerge stronger. In a recent survey, 83% of CEO's said that a well managed response helped avoid a negative impact on future revenue growth.2

Why This Matters

PwC has identified three global trends that underpin today's business landscape and will likely impact the future of work. Here are the implications as you approach questions of human capital risk.


•  The need to build trust internally and externally - with stakeholders, regulators and the public

•  Public outrage around unfairness, “avoidance” and unethical behaviors, practices and cultures

•  Organizations increasingly being held responsible for their whole ecosystem


•  “Radical transparency” driven by social media impacting trust in business - creating public outrage easily, setting today’s actions against tomorrow’s expectations

•  The speed of technological innovation and proliferation of mobile devices driving tension between “acting fast” and “acting right”


•  A public demand for greater transparency around diversity and inclusion efforts and impact

•  Understanding and dealing with unintended people impacts of the political and economic landscape

•  Disruption across sectors driving the need for new kinds of talent with differing perspectives

How we can help

A number of high profile incidents across industries have highlighted an underlying culture problem and the need for organizational change. In the absence of defined values and behaviors, and interventions to reinforce the desired culture, organizations risk failing to achieve their strategic objectives.

We help organizations re-define their cultural aspirations, renew their behavioral priorities, and embed the desired conduct and behaviors through formal and informal interventions. Our deep expertise around forensics, people analytics, cultural evolution, and diversity and inclusion helps organizations develop proactive people risk strategies today that prepare them for the workforce of tomorrow.

Crisis management

A workforce incident can escalate into a reputational crisis. We’ve been helping clients deal with different types of crises, and related behavioral change for many years, both proactively ahead of challenges to come, or reactively to deal with an issue at hand. We work hand in hand with you on a custom approach tailored to your most pressing needs, including addressing ethical lapses, investigations,  fact-gathering and crisis communications. We have stood proudly alongside our clients for more than one-and-a-half centuries, supporting them through crises big and small - and can help you respond and emerge stronger. 

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Culture and conduct services

  • Assess the culture you have today to identify gaps and drive greater alignment with purpose, values and strategy
  • Work with and within your cultural situation, leveraging the positives to mitigate the negatives
  • Focus first on behaviors more than mindsets to help people “act their way into new thinking”
  • Use peer-to-peer interactions, networks, and communities to catalyze and accelerate behavior change
  • Create coherence by designing and executing programs, interventions and messaging that reinforce the desired behavior and culture
  • Remove barriers to support a strategy and business practices that reflect the values and ethics you espouse

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Culture and conduct tools

  • Organizational DNA Tool – A snapshot of your organizational building blocks (decisions/norms, motivators/commitments, information/mindsets, structure/networks)
  • Culture Thumbprint – a view on the most dominant culture traits unique to your organization and the strengths and challenges that they bring
  • Performance alignment tool – Assess the alignment between strategic intent and organizational practice
  • Saratoga and risk benchmarks – external benchmarking of KPIs/ KRIS of organizational behavior reinforces

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Our methodology

A holistic approach across operations, organization, HR, marketing and communications helps drive consistency from diagnosis to recovery.

1. Diagnose

Rapidly diagnose existing culture and behaviors, and prioritize remediation opportunities.

2. Design

Design the enablers and build the pieces necessary to create coherence and evolve the culture.

3. Implement

Develop and implement a cultural evolution strategy to remind, reinforce and reward new behaviors across the organization.

4. Launch and measure results

Announce the journey, engaging stakeholders to help them understand what has changed, how, and what they can expect today and tomorrow. Implement feedback and performance mechanisms to continually identify opportunities for improvement.

5. Monitor

Social media monitoring and intelligence/sentiment gathering is embedded in every step of this process to maximize the impact of your efforts.

"Building trust starts by clearly defining why your company exists, explaining how it is contributing to society, and showing how it is accountable for its actions."

Tim RyanSenior Partner and Chairman, PwC US

When facing a culture-related crisis, some items to consider:

  • Gather the right team with representation across business units and functions to drive a coordinated, holistic response
  • Create your response strategy based on your principles and values: this is a great opportunity to clarify, promote, and live your values
  • Engage Legal to determine privilege and establish working practices
  • Document how you extracted any data
  • Document who is sending data to whom and dates/time data was sent
  • Determine your external communications strategy and approach
  • Don’t forget to communicate internally as well - your employees can be your strongest asset during an event



1. Strategy&Global Cultureand ChangeManagement Survey, 2013
2. PwC's Pulse on Crisis, 2016

Contact us

Orla Beggs

People & Organization (P&O) Tax Leader, PwC US

Reid Carpenter

Director, US Lead, Strategy&’s Katzenbach Center, PwC US

Matt Shelhorse

Partner, Forensic Services, PwC US

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