Company culture lays the foundation for any organization’s success. It shapes the overall employee experience, influences engagement, contributes to better teamwork, innovation, and adaptability, and ultimately leads to better productivity.
According to the PWC Global Culture Survey, 69% of surveyed leaders reported that company culture gave them a competitive advantage when adapting amid the pandemic. Additionally, those who responded that their companies had a distinctive culture were 80% more likely to see an increase in employee satisfaction than those that didn’t.
So what is company culture exactly? It’s the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that characterize an organization. It encompasses a company’s overall personality and defines how people communicate, make decisions, and work toward common goals.
It’s critical to define how to measure culture in a company and implement strategies to enhance it when it’s ineffective. If left unattended, company culture can lead to low employee motivation, absenteeism, and poor performance. When nurtured, it brings a significant number of benefits:
- Enhanced and transparent employee management. Managers know what to reward their teams for and which behaviors to promote and commend.
- Elevated motivation. Employees know what’s expected from them and what they need to do to receive recognition. Around 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt more appreciated.
- Improved recruitment effort. Hiring managers have a better understanding if a person is a good fit for the company.
- A whole new level of employee engagement. A strong company culture cultivates a sense of belonging, purpose, and appreciation.
Leaders should embrace this bundle of benefits. Measuring company culture and taking action to improve it should be at the top of your priority list. Evaluating your culture is essential, as the data you collect will help you to:
- Assess the current state your culture is in.
- Identify issues and opportunities for improvement.
- Understand where to apply more effort.
- Leverage the current cultural context when communicating with employees.
- Ultimately create a better, enhanced, more inclusive version of the culture.
Now, let’s look at approaches to measuring culture.
Actionable Methods of Measuring Company Culture
It may seem that something so intangible and ephemeral as company culture can’t be assessed. However, over the years, various methods have been developed for this purpose.
Employing the Classics of Measuring Culture — Surveys
Surveys provide a systematic approach to collecting feedback from employees. By encouraging employees to give candid responses and ensuring anonymity, surveys help uncover the true sentiments within teams, including any concerns or areas for improvement.
Most importantly, surveys provide a quantitative measurement of employee perceptions and attitudes. This enables you to track changes over time, compare results across different departments, and benchmark against industry standards. The survey data can inform evidence-based decision-making and guide actions to enhance the company culture.
Here are some examples of yes or no questions you could ask in a survey when measuring company culture:
- Do you feel like you can be your authentic self every day at work?
- Are you free to take risks at work?
- Can you share your ideas freely?
- Do you agree that the work environment at our organization allows you to do your job effectively?
- Do you feel that your efforts play a meaningful part in accomplishing our organization’s mission?
- Do you agree that our culture prioritizes and promotes the well-being and health of our team members?
Of course, these are sample questions that you’ll have to tailor to your company. However, they are here to give you direction.
Employee surveys are effective as long as they don’t take your team members a long time to fill out and also allow you, or other team leaders, to quickly gather and analyze the results. Keep them short. Build the surveys into the fabric of your company’s processes and send them ahead of your budget and strategy planning sessions. This way, you can incorporate the results into your next strategy.
To streamline your survey efforts, you can use platforms like Beams.ai. This solution allows you to automatically create and distribute employee pulse surveys and receive comprehensive reports on your employees’ sentiments.
The surveys have been created by certified psychologists and are designed to gauge your employees’ motivation and well-being at work.
Analytical Methods for Measuring Culture
This approach can encompass analyzing anything from key performance indicators (KPIs) to the language employees use in their day-to-day communication.
For example, monitoring business KPIs like customer retention, revenues, sales, and personal performance can indicate culture changes and their impact on the organization.
Likewise, turning to your HR Information System (HRIS) for the turnover rates, absenteeism, and data on internal promotions can say a lot about whether your team members are engaged and/or behaving according to the company values. Absenteeism can be a sign of burnout. According to Gallup, team members with a high level of burnout are 63% more likely to request days off.
Meanwhile, language-researching technology is less popular but might be promising. A study demonstrates that email, Slack, and Glassdoor reviews can be successfully employed to find insights into the state of your company’s culture. Specific keywords and phrases picked out by the parsing technology point out the tone that can help you get your current employees’ sentiments.
Of course, there are many ethical and privacy sides to this method that should be explored, even though the technology parsing the messages does not reveal employees’ names. However, this method may be the future of measuring your company’s culture.
Leveraging Qualitative Methods
Engaging in authentic conversations with employees during focus groups, interviews, and one-on-one manager meetings can give a helpful sneak peek into your company culture. By asking for personal anecdotes and experiences, you can gain deeper insights into the culture. Identifying common themes and trends among employees will help you grasp the overall picture.
Exit interviews can serve as a means to collect feedback from departing employees, providing a glimpse into your culture’s shortcomings. Using this feedback, you can make necessary adjustments and leverage your culture as a tool to retain current and future employees.
How to Measure Culture with Social Media Analysis
Social media offers a tremendous field for the study of your company culture. Here is how you can leverage it in your analysis:
- Analyze public social media mentions of your company to assess sentiment, employees’ experiences, and perceptions.
- Encourage employees to share their experiences and perspectives on social media through designated company hashtags.
- Use sentiment analysis tools to evaluate the overall tone of social media conversations and identify trends reflecting the culture’s health and employee satisfaction.
Key Culture Metrics to Explore
Here are some metrics you can examine to assess your company culture’s health and identify areas for improvement. Using the results of this analysis, you’ll be able to make informed decisions and foster a thriving work culture in your organization.
Employee Engagement and Satisfaction
This metric reflects how much employees are emotionally connected to their roles, colleagues, and the overall company mission. It showcases the level of enthusiasm and motivation employees have toward their work and the organization. Some of the elements of employee engagement are:
- Job satisfaction. It can manifest in a positive attitude toward work, a sense of fulfillment, enthusiasm, constructive communication and collaboration with colleagues, and a reduced likelihood of turnover or seeking employment elsewhere.
- Commitment. It shows in meeting the deadlines and going the extra mile when needed.
- Innovation. Researching and sharing new ideas often shows a person’s willingness to grow in the company.
- Productivity. High productivity indicates a person’s engagement, as they tend to be motivated, focused, and deliver their best work.
Alignment with Company Values and Mission
When you think about evaluating the culture in your company, this is one of the most important metrics that should come to mind.
Your company’s values should align between executives, managers, and employees. The values should be clear to everyone in the company, and your employees should believe in their importance. Leaders and managers, in turn, should make decisions and take actions in line with the values.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Having a diverse team shows that your company is building a workforce with a focus on individual skills and experiences.
It is crucial to recognize and address biases in hiring practices to foster an inclusive culture and ensure equal opportunities for all employees irrespective of race, gender identity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity.
Communication and Collaboration
In a prospering company culture, open dialogue is encouraged, and your employees feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns to their superiors. They trust that you will listen to their messages with respect and appropriate consideration.
Similarly, your employees are open to you communicating important information and feedback. You frequently share positive feedback since it enhances motivation, increases confidence, and shows that you appreciate their work.
Leadership and Management Effectiveness
Leadership is the glue that holds all of the other elements together. Leaders need to set the tone for the entire organization by embodying the values and vision at the core of the company culture. They need to inspire and motivate employees, creating a sense of purpose and engagement.
Furthermore, leaders should ensure that goals and expectations are clearly communicated, providing the necessary guidance and support for their teams to succeed. Finally, they need to promote open communication, trust, and collaboration, creating an environment where their employee’s ideas and opinions are valued, and innovation can thrive.
Best Practices for How to Measure the Culture of Your Company
Here is your roadmap for evaluating and improving various aspects of your company culture.
1. Define clear goals
Having little knowledge of how to measure company culture efficiently, some people jump into conducting interviews and focus groups. However, assessing something without knowing what result you expect is nearly impossible. Therefore, your first step should be defining clear goals.
When developing your goals, ensure they are SMART — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound:
- Specificity helps to define the objective clearly.
- Measurability allows for tracking progress and determining success.
- Taking your resources and capabilities into account makes your goals realistic and achievable.
- Setting a timeframe creates a sense of urgency and helps with effective planning.
To encompass all aspects of company culture, you could set one or several goals for each category from the previous section.
2. Ensure anonymity and confidentiality
If you choose to conduct surveys, you naturally would want open and honest responses. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure anonymity and confidentiality. Employees may hesitate to express their genuine opinions if they fear potential repercussions.
Anonymous surveys or feedback channels provide a safe space for employees to share their perspectives without the fear of being identified. This allows for more accurate and candid data, enabling you to gain genuine insights into the current state of your culture.
3. Collect data from a diverse group of employees
This best practice is critical if you decide to conduct focus groups. To understand company culture comprehensively, invite people from various departments, levels of seniority, and backgrounds. Different perspectives can shed light on cultural nuances that may vary across teams or demographics.
4. Regularly review and analyze data
Measuring your culture should be an ongoing process. It is crucial to regularly review and analyze the collected data. By establishing regular time intervals for assessment, you can identify trends, track progress, and make data-driven decisions.
This can involve, among others, reviewing survey results, conducting sentiment analysis of employee feedback, and comparing data over time. Regular analysis can help you identify areas of strength, areas for improvement, and potential cultural shifts that require attention.
5. Communicate results and take action accordingly
Measuring company culture serves little purpose if you don’t communicate the results and take action based on the findings.
You should share the results with employees to demonstrate transparency and create a sense of ownership and shared responsibility. The importance of transparency can’t be overstated. According to a study by Payscale, 82% of employees were satisfied with being underpaid as long as they understood the reason behind it.
Together with your employees, you can identify specific areas that require attention and co-create solutions. This collaborative approach will encourage accountability and promote a culture of continuous improvement.
For example, if the assessment reveals low employee satisfaction with communication channels, you can implement regular town hall meetings or online feedback platforms to address the issue.
Challenges and Limitations of Measuring Culture
Measuring company culture accurately can be tricky due to the following challenges:
Subjectivity and Bias
Surveys, interviews, focus groups — all of these methods are susceptible to individual biases — since the data you receive from them is a bundle of individual experiences and perceptions. Employees may have contrasting views on the same topics, which can complicate the measurement process. For example, one employee may perceive a team as collaborative while others as competitive.
To address subjectivity, involve respondents from various departments, age groups, and levels. This will help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the culture.
Difficulty in Quantifying Culture
Company culture includes intangible elements like values, beliefs, and norms, which can be challenging to measure. For example, assigning a numerical value to trust or innovation is difficult. To address this, you could combine the various qualitative and quantitative methods mentioned above. This way, you’ll be able to capture the nuanced nature of culture.
Survey Fatigue and Low Response Rates
Survey fatigue is when employees become tired, frustrated, and unwilling to take your surveys. Here are the main reasons this may occur:
- You are sending too many surveys. Employees start neglecting them or answering just to answer, without thinking.
- The design of your survey is poor, or the survey is too long. This makes it boring, hard to read, or takes too long to answer.
- Your survey fails to tackle the most pressing issues in the company.
The outcome is low response rates, inaccurate survey results, and wasted resources.
To prevent or overcome survey fatigue, you can be mindful of survey frequency, ensure surveys are concise and relevant, test various design formats, and act on your employees’ feedback to show them that you care and listen to them.
Company culture plays a significant role in the success of any organization. Measuring and improving your culture will increase employee engagement and motivation and elevate employee performance. While gauging such an intangible matter as company culture may be challenging, leveraging a combination of surveys, interviews, focus groups, KPIs, social media analysis, and other methods will help you get a comprehensive picture of your culture.
So, take the plunge and start plotting how to measure culture in your company. Your efforts will pay off once you start enhancing your culture and bear the first fruits — growing engagement, loyalty, motivation, and better performance!