Why workplace culture should be measured – and 5 core metrics to start tracking

By Steph Von der Heyde | Culture

Feb 14

Your company’s culture affects everything you do – like it or not.

From the way your employees work together, to the end result of your products and offerings. Everything that goes on inside your office will be influenced by the type of culture you cultivate.

This isn’t just based on a fluff and fuzzies. Studies have shown again and again that organisations with active and healthy cultures typically outperform companies where culture is not something the company actively works on.

You may think that culture is soft metric that’s impossible to track, but it can – and should – be measured. Just like any other business KPI.

Empty Office

First….

What are we talking about when we say company culture?

A company culture is like a company’s personality. It’s the vibe, values or ethos that permeates the entire company and everyone in it. Simply put, company culture describes ‘the way things are done around here.’

Why Should I Track Company Culture?

Measuring culture acts as an early-warning system. If you’re carefully tracking your culture you’ll be able to pick up when it starts to shift (as a result of new employees, new systems, new management and so on), which will allow you to course-correct before it becomes a major problem.

Tracking your culture will also let you know how well your culture is being integrated throughout your entire company, which is particularly valuable if you have a lot of separate departments.  

In large companies you’ll often find that small groups or departments develop their own internal cultures, and these can conflict with the overall business culture you’re trying to encourage. Regularly tracking your culture will highlight groups and departments that may not be 100% in line with the overarching company culture you want to encourage.

Finally, measuring culture will help you develop and improve on it. It allows you to set goals and then track their achievement. You can also set targets for the teams or leaders responsible for implementing or championing your culture.  

It’s also always nice to have a tangible idea of how well you’re doing overall, and a benchmark from which you can see improvement.  

Employees in a meeting in the office with their lap tops

5  Metrics To Track Anyone Can Track:

Tracking the metrics below will give you an overview of how healthy your culture is. These metrics can be applied to any business or culture – regardless of what your values are.

They also aren’t difficult or time-consuming to measure but can be used to give you a solid benchmark to work with.

How well has your desired culture been internalised & understood?

Ask employees to write down the key aspects of your company culture. How many of them are able to accurately describe it? Out of 70 employees, for example, what percentage got it spot-on?

If your culture hasn’t been understood and internalised by all your staff you’re not going to see the results you’re after. For a culture to be truly successful everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction, and for that to happen they need to know exactly where that is.  

rowing or crewing team from above with black background

Is the culture being supported?  

Ask leaders and employees who have demonstrated your desired culture traits if they have felt any cultural pushback; do they feel as though their behaviour is being supported or resisted. For example, out of 20 culture champions, what percentage report feeling resisted?  

If a number of them are receiving cultural pushback there are clearly some counter-productive forces at work. You’ll need to address these issues before your culture spreads as desired.

Is your culture a daily practice?

For your culture to become part of the fabric of your company it should be a part of everyday office life. It’s no good to anyone stuck on a vision board only to be revisited on your yearly team building day…

Ask employees to provide a specific example of each of your culture traits in action.

For example, if collaboration is a value, ask employees to ‘describe an example of collaboration that occurred this week’.

If they struggle to provide an example within the last 5 days it’s clearly not an everyday practice.

Do employees feel supported?

Ask employees if they feel they are being recognised for positive displays of your company culture.

Out of 70 employees, how many feel they have been (or would be) recognised for displaying positive cultural traits?

If they don’t feel like the company values their efforts they’re less likely to see your cultural values as important.

How do new employees describe the culture?

A final way to measure is to ask new recruits (or temp workers) to offer their description of the company culture after the first week in your offices. What are the aspects are immediately apparent, and what have not yet been visible. Out of a list of your 10 key values, how many have been observed in a week?

image of happy team meeting

These 5 metrics provide a solid foundation for company culture tracking. Once you’ve done it the first time you’ll be left with tangible numbers that you work on improving month by month, just like any other business metric.

 

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