The health of a company can be directly connected to the health of their employee base. And one of the ways you can maintain an environment which keeps your workforce healthy, happy, and motivated is by developing and managing a strong company culture.
The internal values and employee behaviors which are facilitated by an organization contribute heavily not only to the wellbeing of a company’s workforce, but to the wellbeing of the business as a whole. A positive and meaningful working environment has been proven to boost energy and morale, leading to a higher ROI and increased productivity. Organizational culture is less about what gets done, and more about how things get done.
But maintaining a collaborative and healthy company culture comes with its own set of challenges -- it requires upkeep, monitoring, and no small amount of effort. In this article you will find methods to utilize and metrics to watch that will help you stay on top of your internal working environment.
How to Define and Measure Company Culture
Data-driven analysis of your organizational culture can provide immense insight into the human health of your business. But, because we’re all human, and because company cultures are incredibly nuanced, measuring company culture will require some qualitative observations including speaking to your employees, and observing trends in internal behavior.
Company Culture Metrics to Observe and Track
- Environment. Humans need to feel safe, comfortable, and taken care of in order to be at their best in any activity. This doesn’t mean that your office needs to look like a West Elm showroom, but little things like temperature, lighting, even airflow in your workspace can affect productivity. We spend a lot of time at work, and having a comfortable and beautiful space to work in can have a huge impact on what we are able to do, and how we feel about doing it.
- Communication. Cross-hierarchical conversation should be easy. In a company with a positive dialogical approach, employees should feel that they are able to communicate thoughts, suggestions, concerns, etc. to leadership; and trust that their communications will be listened to respectfully and appropriately considered. As well, leadership should be able to communicate critical operation information to employees. Avenues for communication should be clear, easy to understand, and available to everyone, and should enable easy dialog across departments.
- Employee agility. Whatever industry you operate in, employees at your organization should be able to react quickly to changes in the marketplace and pursue new opportunities for growth as they arise. And, they should feel comfortable and able to adapt to new changes both external and internal to the business itself. Leadership should ensure that whatever shifts happen at the corporate level aren’t negatively affecting those lower down the chain.
- Diversity. This factor is one way to not only measure culture, but also the quality of your hiring tactics. A diverse team will indicate that you are invested in creating a workforce which prioritizes personal skill and experience. Unfortunately, it can be easy to let unconscious biases drive hiring practices, but it is absolutely vital to the wellbeing of a business that we are aware of them, and actively work against them to create an inclusive company culture which celebrates diversity. Equitable opportunities should be created for all employees, regardless of race, gender identity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity.
- Courtesy and accountability. Interpersonal interactions between employees and personal responsibility taken may be a useful diagnostic tool for the rest of your company culture. Some questions you might ask: Are my employees willing to work collaboratively? Do they seek input from coworkers, without prioritizing their own needs and voice? Are my employees willing to listen to criticism, guidance, and feedback, and do they implement it into their professional behavior? Employees who feel supported by a company-facilitated work environment will be eager to support the business in return, and thus will be more invested in cultivating professional relationships, and self improvement.
Measuring Methods, Data Points and Trends to Keep in Mind
- Leveraging exit interviews. Employee turnover can sometimes be a direct result of problems in the work environment. Much of what you can find out about company culture will be gleaned directly from the employees themselves, and an exit interview or survey is a great way to garner honest feedback from your workforce about possible areas of improvement. You can use Checkster’s Exit Insights to gain collective intelligence and actionable data on employee turnover. With Exit Insights, you can capture candid feedback from employees, peers and managers to determine if the employee leaving is a strong performer, and what may have been the real reasons for their departure. This consolidated feedback will inform better hiring decisions, improve management decisions, and build a company culture that is able to retain its best employees.
If you’re interested in heading off involuntary turnover from the get go, read our recent paper that discusses the direct correlation between number of references checked and a decreased risk in employee turnover. Find out the magic number of references to check here.
- Distributing job satisfaction / performance surveys. You should be regularly asking your employees for feedback on their met expectations, personal productivity, team dynamics and corporate culture. You’ll be able to determine what the company is doing right, and how you can keep employees engaged and loyal to the organization. Why are these employees sticking around, and what would they like to see more of? What’s missing or who is a flight risk? Read more about Checkster’s New Hire Insights tool here that automates this type of timely check in to gather data on employee (and manager) satisfaction.
- Watch for signs of a toxic culture. It’s easy to promote a positive working environment, but it's just as easy to let it fall through the cracks if it is not maintained properly. Signs that your internal culture might not be going so well can include:
- obsession over titles and hierarchies among employees.
- a lack of friendly chat or development of interpersonal relationships.
- a communication barrier between staff and leadership.
If you notice any of these factors popping up in your organization, it may be time to step back and reevaluate (and reinvent) your company culture processes.
- Find great-fit candidates from the start. Company cultures are dependent on the employees you hire. Each employee has the ability to strengthen or weaken your culture. That’s why it’s important that you leverage reference checking services to not only validate past experience, but cultural fit as well. Tools like Checkster's Reference Insights help you and your hiring team to automatically check references, and get honest feedback from a candidate’s peers, direct reports, and managers, so you can determine if they’re the right fit for your culture from the get-go.
Final Thoughts: How to Measure Company Culture
The foundation of any outstanding business is its workforce, which is kept healthy and happy by the cultivation of a strong company culture. By maintaining and checking in on the critical factors of any effective organizational culture, using the right tools to do so, your business will thrive.