How to measure organisational culture

Written by

Totem

Published

May 25, 2021

It can be a challenge to define organisational culture, as it encompasses many different aspects of how an organisation gets things done. When we’re asked to define ‘culture’ we may consider the goals and values of an organisation, as well as the social and psychological environment shared between employees, management, and clients.


Positive organisational culture is a powerful thing, driving happiness, engagement, job satisfaction, loyalty, and wellness. Research has shown that happier employees work 12% harder and that UK businesses suffer losses of £21.2 billion each year as a result of disengagement, stress, distractions and unhappiness at work. There is a compelling business case for investing in a positive organisational culture.

Metrics are a valuable tool for measuring the impact of any initiatives designed to improve organisational culture, much like other aspects of a business such as sales, marketing and recruitment. But how do you take something so challenging to place into neat boundaries and quantify it into actionable results? Here’s some insight into how to measure organisational culture – and how new technology is empowering organisations to achieve these insights in real-time.

How can organisational culture be measured?


If you are new to carrying out a company culture ‘health check’, you may be unsure as to what metrics to prioritise. Here are some important areas of focus to get you started:

Communication 


The lifeblood of any healthy relationship is good communication. Employees should be comfortable in expressing their thoughts, concerns, suggestions, while leadership should be able to not only receive this constructively but also to communicate clearly with their teams. Communication paths should be open, well-established, and available to all, across departments and teams.


Measuring communication is not particularly easy, however, but third-party employee experience analytics apps (and to a lesser extent, surveys) are recommended, as they offer a degree of separation that encourages a more candid, honest response.

Once leaders have gathered all of their responses, they need to turn their raw data into an accurate conclusion about how employees feel in general about their work. This conclusion must then form the basis of actionable insights that align with their organisation’s overall strategy. This can be achieved using sentiment analysis.

Sentiment analysis is a scalable method for measuring and quantifying employees’ perceptions about work as it allows for always-on, live reporting of how teams are doing without people needing to clean and analyse huge datasets. This is based on analysing their language choices in surveys and other text-based communication using Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools. 

Environment

This means satisfying the basic needs of people within your organisation to allow them to focus on productive, high-quality work. It sounds simple, but work environments are constantly looking to recognise and meet these needs more effectively. Environmental factors are exceptionally diverse and can be unique to a particular organisation or workspace. These factors can include ergonomic workstations, healthy and convenient foods, and a welcoming design.

Measuring environmental performance can include looking at employee turnover and retention levels, absenteeism, productivity levels, and engagement. Implement employee exit interviews regardless of the level of the employee, to get a clear idea of why they are leaving and if company culture may have played a role.

Diversity 


Diversity takes many shapes or forms, and it’s important not only to track more obvious factors such as demographic or cultural diversity but also cognitive diversity. Diversity brings benefits of agility, adaptability, and creativity. It also shows a commitment to personal skill and experience and promotes a willingness to overcome hiring biases.

To measure diversity, it is typical for organisations to track representation, promotion, and retention rates at different levels of the organisation, leverage exit interviews and encourage employee feedback in performance reviews.

Agility 


The ability to adapt quickly, confidently, and effectively is key to a powerful organisational culture, helping to cope and thrive in a time of disruption. Employees should be able to adapt to the changing environment, knowing that leadership supports each level of operations as shifts occur.

Measuring this trait means shifting a focus to outcomes rather than output, using third-party employee analytics apps and surveys to analyse how comfortable teams are with adapting to changes, outcomes from training programs, processes for introducing new technologies and operational processes, and tracking this consistency and commitment at each level of the organisation.

Accountability and transparency 


Any improvement in organisational culture requires a clear, coherent commitment to authentically standing by these beliefs and values. Too often, changes in organisational culture feel like lip service rather than meaningful transformation.

Measuring accountability and transparency is key to measuring whether organisational culture is making a real impact, and can include tracking data regarding social corporate responsibility commitments, analysing interpersonal relationships and employee behaviours, and so forth. This can take the form of utilising employee culture analytics tools and holding employee reviews.

The future of corporate culture analytics tools


One of the reasons why measuring organisational culture is so complex, is because humans are exceptionally nuanced. Every member of an organisation has their own skills, experiences and values - and therefore are all likely to respond differently to an organisation’s culture. What may hinder one person’s progress may cause others to thrive.

With this in mind, not to mention what may be a complex set of metrics and influences, measuring company culture can be a daunting task. For instance, it often involves gathering large volumes of data to be collected and crunched with the hope of it providing some kind of actionable insight.


With the advances in technology such as AI and machine learning, it’s possible to collect more data from more sources and use it more accurately than ever before. It allows Human Resources teams to turn organisational culture into another practical and actionable metric to track the health of the organisation and those within it, transforming data into meaningful results that drive refinement and success.

This was a guiding principle behind the creation of Totem. Rather than simply relying on sluggish surveys, we wanted to help leaders understand the extent to which employees feel part of a team, as well as helping them identify ‘influencers’ who best embody a company’s values. This can be seen in our Culture Insights, an employee experience analytics platform that uses machine learning and language analysis to deliver greater insight into factors such as employee engagement and morale – all in real-time.


The Totem platform provides a dedicated space for workplace culture, helping teams to connect and giving leaders the insights they need to improve morale, engagement and long-term success. Request a demo today to find out more or get started for free here.