Company culture is so critical to success in the digital economy that it needs to be built even pre-product, with board meetings dedicated to a company’s culture rather than its financial numbers, according to Digital Nation, a report into work and working culture.

Digital Nation, published by Propel London, examined the attitudes and motivations towards work by surveying those working in the sector as well as conducting in-depth interviews with thirteen industry leaders including Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield OBE, Passion Capital partner Eileen Burbidge MBE, and Baroness Martha Lane Fox.

The report provides qualitative and quantitative evidence that company culture is currently the single most important factor behind success in an economy suffering a desperate dearth of talent. Key findings show that 86% believe a set of values is of equal or greater importance than holiday allowance when sizing up a job offer with two thirds (67%) having rejected a job because of a prospective employer’s set of values.

Alex Depledge MBE, founder of cleaning marketplace Hassle.com and online architectural design business Reis, said: “You’re in a global competition for talent and culture is so critical that your board meetings shouldn’t be about your financial numbers but about constantly revisiting your culture.”

Baronness Martha Lane Fox, founder of doteveryone.org.uk, agreed: “Culture is people. You can have endless documents about your company culture but it’s all irrelevant unless the company and the people working in that company are judged on those values.”

Lane Fox pointed out that the job of company leader was to drive company culture; this makes it very worrying that the Digital Nation survey found a third of respondents believed their leader didn’t demonstrate behaviour that underpinned their company values.

The report reveals that 52% are considering a job change within the next 12 months up from 49% in 2017/18. The main reason given to leave jobs is the people/culture/working environment (44%), to pursue a new work challenge (34%) or a lack of career progression (28%).

The most telling insight of a company’s culture and values comes across at interview stage according to 83%, followed by interactions with current employees (55%), the company’s website (42%), media coverage (42%) and social media channels (32%). Around 29% are also influenced by Glassdoor reflecting the increasing popularity of employee review platforms. In fact, 11% believe values are even more important than pay when it comes to choosing a job and 62% think they’re equally as important.

Around 73% of companies have a defined set of company values; and, of people who work in such companies, 89% of them believe that they understand what those values are – and a similar number (86%) what is expected from them with regards to behaviour around those values. Interestingly, 71% believe staff demonstrate behaviours which underpin those values, compared to 68% who think leaders demonstrate them.

Talking about hiring the right people, Monzo CEO, Tom Blomfield OBE said: “With talent, it is important to assess not just cultural fit but culture ‘add’ at interview stage, otherwise you often just get a very homogenous group of people and a lack of diversity leading to siloed group thinking.”

“The war for talent has never been fiercer, the rewards for those that can attract the best never higher – and it’s clear that company culture is one of the most important factors behind creating a truly world-beating company,” said Melina Jacovou, founder and CEO of Propel London.