GuidesEmployee experienceHow to measure company culture and why it matters

How to measure company culture and why it matters

Last updated

3 April 2024

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Warren Jonas ACC

Culture plays a huge role in our day-to-day lives, and the companies we work for are no exception. Whether you offer your employees a fun environment where every day feels like a new adventure, or a more serious culture, measuring this is vital for your company’s health.

Employees who aren't happy with the culture tend to move on quickly. Even if they stick around because this is the best option available, you won't be getting the best from them.

So, how do you know if your company culture is hitting the mark or if your employees are eager to flee? Starting is simple: you measure it.

Why should you measure company culture?

Your company culture has a huge impact on several aspects of your company. It can determine:

  • Business growth

  • Number of employees

  • Employee quality

  • Level of productivity

  • …and more

Unlike many types of data that may feel useless, you can put this into action immediately. You'll also see the results more rapidly, rather than waiting five years to reap the benefits. If done correctly, you may even see results within weeks.

Forbes reports that some major changes you'll notice are:

  • Client satisfaction

  • Employee engagement

  • Workplace enthusiasm

  • Unsolicited positive feedback

Implementing the measurement of company culture doesn’t have to be hard or take loads of time. Just decide what areas to measure, and start from there.

According to Inc., some key areas to measure are:

  • Formality

  • Analytics

  • Transparency

  • Teams or individuals

  • Performance tracking

  • Innovation

  • Frugality

  • Humor

  • Conformity

You can use these initial numbers to see where you are, where you would like to be, and how far off base you are. You don't need to measure them all, of course. Pick the areas you feel need the most work and go from there.

Once you have the data, you can use it to help reach your goals. Whether you want to create a more inclusive environment or figure out why you aren't meeting your quotas, you’ll have the information you need to create lasting change.

Company culture metrics

Referrals

Are your employees telling their friends and family to work for your company? Are they singing your praises online? You can find out by including extra questions on your job application forms, such as how the applicant heard about you.

Turnover

Do people leave your company within a week or two of joining? If so, you need to find out why. On the other hand, if your employees are retiring after working for your company for several years and are asking for ways to volunteer or work part-time,  you've created a culture you can be proud of.

Productivity

This could be an excellent measure of your company's culture. People who work hard without someone pushing them love what they do. However, if you're constantly nagging them to meet the criteria, they probably don't take pride in their work and have no interest in helping your company grow.

Productivity can be hard to measure, but a method to support it can be a focus on achieving company goals. When everyone is motivated and engaged, hitting business targets can feel easier.

Communication

Get to know your employees, and let them get to know you. They need to be able to trust you so that, when problems arise, they'll come to you. If your employees are willing to speak to you about anything, this could help you identify growing issues with your company culture without investing in surveys and focus groups.

How to measure company culture

There are several ways to discover how effective your company culture is. Some are simple enough to implement on your own, and some require outside resources. You can do one, or combine several. By using a range of methods, you'll get more accurate results.

Employee surveys

There's no one more involved in your business than your employees (except for perhaps the bank). They'll be aware of what's going on when you're not around, and employee surveys can encourage them to speak up.

An anonymous survey will prompt them to speak their mind with no fear of backlash. Ask questions about their workload, their feelings about management, and if they feel they have an opportunity for growth within the company.

Some survey tools share benchmarking for employee surveys, such as Great Place to Work. This will give you a ranking that shows how positive your culture is compared with similar companies.

Third-party culture measurement tools

Why redesign the wheel when there are already tools you can use? There are plenty of third-party culture-measurement tools you can use to avoid figuring it all out on your own.

What’s more, they aren't biased. It's all too easy to frame questions in a way to get the results you desire, and it's probably not even intentional. A third party will be more likely to ask hard questions without trying to skew the data.

Focus groups

A focus group is like an employee survey, but you're speaking directly to a select group of employees. This is invaluable because you're having a conversation rather than trawling through data that offers good information but doesn't get to the root of the problem.

Teams often put forward a focus-group member; this is important as it gives teams a say in future decisions.

Make sure you thank everyone, then put some information you gained to use so your employees will be more willing to participate in the future.

Exit surveys

No matter how great your business is, you're going to lose employees. Find out why by offering an exit survey.

It could be someone is leaving because they got a better job offer or they need a more flexible schedule. If everyone is leaving because they don’t feel comfortable with the culture, you can use this data to find out why.

Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI)

The OCAI provides short and sweet results that are easily understood.

Business Needs Scorecard (BNS)

This tool allows you to quickly find out aspects such as:

  • How much your employees trust you

  • If they feel engaged

  • How easily they can communicate with you

  • If they feel supported

Behavioral observation scale (BOS)

Your employees are often the only ones representing your business in person. You may have eye-catching displays, or products and services everyone wants, and the overall feel is perfect, but if your employees are rude to the customers, you may lose them.

The behavioral observation scale gives you the chance to grade employees, just as they get to do with you on the employee survey.

Best practices for measuring your company culture

There are a few considerations to ensure your measurements run smoothly.

Identify a goal

Before you measure anything, you need to decide on your goal so you have something to use the data for. Use this information to narrow down the areas you want to focus on. Not everyone enjoys collecting data. People will be more open to participating if they aren't filling out questionnaires that are too long.

Create a relaxing environment

Once you know what type of data you want, create an environment that encourages your employees to be honest. If they're terrified of telling you the truth, you'll get skewed answers. This defeats the purpose of measuring.

Use existing tools

If this is your first time measuring your company culture, use existing tools. You don't have to create anything on your own. A quick Google search will reveal an array of data to get you started.

Understand you can’t please everyone

This is a measurement, and there are some things you need to take with a grain of salt. You can't please everyone. Go through the data, and decide what is feasible.

While it may seem like a fantastic idea to put a full-size trampoline in the workroom so everyone can get their exercise in during their break, your insurance company will have some issues with this.

Keep measuring

This is not a one-and-done situation. As your company grows, it will inevitably change. It will also alter over time due to new hires, the economy, and other elements.

By measuring regularly, you can keep an eye on the culture of your business. Just make sure you're using this data, or everyone will begin to feel it's a waste of time and give half-hearted responses that are useless.

Remember, these surveys create a baseline, so the impact of the changes you make can be measured between surveys, but if you change the survey questions, your baseline changes.

Final thoughts

Changing the culture of your organization or company may seem stressful, but it's easy to get started by using the tips in this article. Measuring your company culture is an opportunity to find out how your employees feel and make positive changes that will help your company grow.

FAQs

What is a company culture score?

Each company has its own culture or consistent behavioral norms of the employees and leaders. A company culture score helps you figure out if you're hitting the mark on where you would like your company to be and then provides data to help you reach this goal.

Why is it difficult to measure company culture?

There are many factors at play. For example:

  • Participants may not be honest or want to cooperate, leading to skewed results.

  • The data is largely subjective, so it may be subject to bias.

  • Sampling errors can also happen, leading to a misrepresentation of the wider employee base.

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