Social media’s impact on building culture in the workplace is debatable, according to Deloitte’s new “Core Values and Beliefs” survey conducted online by Harris Interactive.

The study was designed to examine the connection between workplace culture and business strategy, and included a nationwide sample of 303 corporate executives and 1,005 full-time employees.

Of the executives participating in the study, 41% believe social networking helps to build and maintain workplace culture, while only 21% of employees have the same view.

Moreover, business leaders and employees widely differ on whether social media has a positive affect on workplace culture (45% and 27%) or allows for increased management transparency (38% and 17%).

“Our research suggests executives are possibly using social media as a crutch in building workplace culture and appearing accessible to employees,” says Punit Renjen, chairman of the board, Deloitte LLP, who commissioned the survey. “While business leaders should recognize how people communicate today, particularly Millennials, they must keep in mind the limits of these technologies. The norms for cultivating culture have not changed, and require managers to build trust through face-to-face meetings, live phone calls and personal messages.”

Business Strategy and Culture –The Two Sides of the Ledger

While a majority of those surveyed indicate that culture is important to business success, executives tend to prioritize a clearly defined business strategy (76%) above clearly defined and communicated core values and beliefs (62%). Employees, however, value them equally (57% and 55%).

Renjen believes this suggests business leaders should be looking at their organizations through a wider lens and considering both sides of the ledger.

Leadership changes and evolving marketplace conditions can significantly impact business strategy,” continues Renjen. “To be an exceptional organization in today’s business climate, organizations must articulate, invest in, and nurture workplace culture now more than ever. If properly supported, it will transcend any environmental shifts, and serve as the foundation for organizational sustainability and growth.”

The research shows a correlation between employees who say their companies have clearly articulated and lived culture and those who are “happy at work” and feel “valued by their company.” Additionally, they indicate that their organizations have a “history of strong business performance.”

Elements of Workplace Culture: Tangibles versus Intangibles

When considering the elements of workplace culture, executives rank competitive compensation and financial performance among the top factors influencing culture on the job. Employees say the intangibles–regular and candid communication and access to management–outweigh the tangibles.

The study also differentiates the degree to which executives and employees perceive culture as being expressed in their organizations, with executives generally giving their organizations stronger scores.

Renjen concludes: “Leaders who understand the importance of the intangible elements contributing to workplace culture become sensitive to what makes their organization truly special. That is how they define core values and beliefs that are unique, simple, leader-led, repetitive and embedded – transforming themselves from good to exceptional.”