Can you easily describe your workplace culture? If you can’t, that could be a sign of a bigger problem. A weak or non-existent culture is not neutral; it signifies a lack of direction and cohesion. A strong and clearly defined culture is critical to taking your business to the next level.
Workplace culture is complex and unique to every organization, but at the same time, it’s often simply described as “the way things are done around here.”
Gallup expands on that by explaining that “culture is the unique way that your organization lives out its company purpose and delivers on its brand promise to its customers.” Culture will develop with or without your input. Without inputs and systems, culture will falter. With input, a system, and a strategy, culture can help you achieve your organization’s unique goals. That’s why organizations must define the culture they want and communicate it widely and often to stay top of mind and prevent unproductive fringe cultures from forming.
A strong and distinctive culture has countless benefits, including:
- Improved and more straightforward people management (leaders know which behaviors to encourage and celebrate within their teams).
- More effective hiring (candidates and hiring managers will have a better idea of cultural fit).
- Increased levels of employee engagement that bring a whole other host of benefits.
The results also translate beyond employee well-being to business results. For example, culture directs how employees interact with customers and helps keep employees focused on your organization’s mission and purpose. What's more, a recent survey conducted by MIT and Glassdoor found that 85% of CEOs and CFOs believe that an unhealthy corporate culture leads to unethical behavior.
So, how do you manage culture to reap all these fantastic benefits?
As the saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Once you and your leadership team have done the work to establish the values and behaviors you’d like to see as part of your culture – how do you measure success? How can you quantify the strength of your culture and the value it brings?
We’ve broken down culture analytics into these three broad categories:
- Sentiment: Sentiment data and insights tell you how employees feel about their role and organization - you would typically collect this through surveys or interviews. Sentiment data is very valuable. It can help you confirm/disprove assumptions and get a pulse on the overall employee experience at a specific moment in time.
- Behavior: Behavioral data provides insight into what your employees are doing day-to-day and the qualities they possess. Where sentiment data tells you how people feel, behavioral data tells you how they work in practice. Behavioral data can help you understand if your employees are living your corporate values.
- Relationship: Relationship data showcases how your employees are interacting with their colleagues and teams. It can highlight strong connections between departments and where those connections may be lacking. Connection and communication are critical to a healthy workforce; relationship data and metrics indicate your organization's performance when it comes to building culture.
With that in mind, here are 7 methods and metrics you should use to measure your workplace culture:
Surveys are a great tool to get honest feedback from your entire workforce. You probably already run periodic employee engagement surveys - Inc has rounded up examples of facets indicative of culture you may want to ask about in your next round. Surveys help you understand overall employee sentiment and alert you to any trends or issues within your workforce.
That said, surveys should not be relied upon as your only culture metric. There can be bias and inaccuracies in surveys based on each respondent's frame of mind when taking it. The most effective way to track information about your culture and employees (also known as HR/People Analytics) is to layer survey data, with behavior and relationship data collected using other methods described below. Surveys collect data about what people think or feel, but not about what they do, nor how they interact. There are dozens of great survey tools and resources in the market ranging from Microsoft Forms and Survey Monkey to high-end solutions like Qualtrics and Glint.
2. Program & Event KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
Sometimes what happens outside of employee’s roles and day-to-day tasks can be the most telling. Another way to measure the health of your culture is to track attendance at social events or wellness campaigns over time. While everyone’s reasons for not attending vary, a general lack of involvement could indicate a lack of social cohesion and shared values across employees. As a piece on workplace social functions by SHRM explains, “HR should view employees' reluctance to attend a social function as a window into a potential human-relations or culture issue at the company." This is an example of behavior data as it tracks the actions of employees.
"Sometimes what happens outside of employee’s roles and day-to-day tasks can be the most telling."
Keep track of anecdotal feedback to uncover patterns or common themes. Make a point to review the anecdotes in leadership meetings weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Some examples of places you can collect these include exit interviews, Glassdoor reviews, and social media posts.
One remarkably simple but effective way many of today’s HR professionals are collecting this information is simply by regularly asking employees to complete this sentence: “I don’t know why [your company name] doesn’t just ____.” Anecdotes are another example of employee sentiment data but can often also give great insight into behaviors and relationships.
4. HR/Workforce KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
Tracking HR KPIs is key to understanding important cultural shifts (positive and negative.) The good news is that most of this data is likely readily available in your HRIS (Human Resources Information System.) These KPIs include turnover rate, rates of absenteeism, internal promotions, and referrals.
Another important metric is the eNPS (employee net promoter score), which you can collect through the surveys mentioned above. Tracking these quantitative metrics against your culture initiatives can help you understand how you’re doing. For the most part, this is an example of behavior data as it summarizes actions taken by the workplace. eNPS would fall into the employee sentiment category.
5. Business KPIs
Tracking business KPIs in conjunction with efforts to improve culture can also provide valuable insight. Work with your finance team for data like:
- Customer retention rate
- Customer satisfaction (Net Promoter Scores)
While this data doesn't necessarily fall into one of the three categories in our framework, significant changes in business KPIs can indicate positive (or negative) culture changes, especially when layered with any initiatives you're working on to improve your culture.
"In tracking behaviors, you may uncover that your organizational values are not known or resonating with your workforce, and that might explain why your culture isn’t where you’d like it to be. In fact, most people don’t know their company values, much less how or where they apply."
6. Tracking Behaviors
While culture itself is challenging to measure, its outputs, or behaviors, can be tracked. Tracking the prevalence of the behaviors associated with your values can be a good indicator of your culture’s strength.
Using your desired value-based behaviors, you can create culture metrics for your organization. For example, if innovation is one of your values, and sharing ideas is an associated behavior, you can ask managers and team leads to report on the prevalence of innovative ideas being shared. Similarly, if accountability is a value, an associated behavior might be meeting deadlines. Again, ask your managers to report on whether deadlines are usually met.
In tracking behaviors, you may uncover that your organizational values are not known or resonating with your workforce, and that might explain why your culture isn’t where you’d like it to be. In fact, most people don’t know their company values, much less how or where they apply. In this case, you have two choices: work on better communicating your values to your team or revisit your values altogether. Evidently, this is an example of behavior data, but it can also provide valuable relationship data.
Tools like Kudos make it easy to reinforce and measure core values and behaviors/qualities, automating the process and housing it all in one place. More on that in the next section!
7. Kudos - Analytics and Insights
With Kudos Analytics, you can automatically measure key components of your culture like the value-based behaviors just discussed, the collaboration between people and departments, and contributions to morale through the recognition and appreciation messages shared on the Kudos platform. Rich and valuable behavioral and relationship data.
Kudos Analytics is built into the Kudos employee engagement and recognition platform, a hub for peer-to-peer recognition messages highlighting employee contributions. With Kudos, each recognition message is tied back to organizational values and behaviors.
The great thing about a system like Kudos is that new data is gathered regularly, allowing you to correlate how your team appreciates each other and interacts with one another, allowing you to connect that information to HR and Business KPIs.
With Kudos, you can measure:
Feedback: Kudos can help you gather direct feedback by embedding your current survey tool in Kudos and sharing the results.
Participation: Kudos is key to measuring participation based on activity in the system. Kudos can also be used to promote and appreciate those who participate and manage your culture events.
Anecdotes: Every message in Kudos provides valuable insights on the connections between employees as well as the effort, act, or accomplishments by individuals, groups, and departments. These messages often capture how people have moved the dial on business KPIs.
Behaviors: The often hard to capture details on what behaviors or qualities individuals demonstrate are captured in every Kudos recognition message. This helps you reinforce your core values but also measure how people live them every day.
Beyond the “moment in time” measures, Kudos Analytics also tracks trends over time, allowing you to discover any changes in behaviors or contributions, ranging from one employee going above and beyond regularly to a notable improvement in culture.
These dashboards can help managers understand the culture of their team and leaders the culture of the entire organization. Individuals can see their contributions, too, allowing them to self-correct if they aren't exhibiting enough desired qualities (behaviors.)
Sample from the Kudos Analytics Dashboard:
The MIT and Glassdoor survey quoted earlier in this piece found that 90% of CEOs and CFOs who responded believe that improving corporate culture would increase their company’s value, with 80% ranking culture among the five most important factors driving their company’s valuation. Being able to show that you’ve made strides in building up your culture through measurement and metrics will not only help you understand which initiatives are working but also highlight HRs role as a strategic business partner.
Culture is vital to employee engagement and business success - understanding how you’re doing is the first step toward managing and building the culture of your dreams.
Kudos Can Help.
Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce. Book your demo today!