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How to measure company culture

Meaningful metrics to understand your internal culture

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What employees think How employees behave How employees feelMeasuring culture in the workplace might take some trial and error

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Why measure company culture

Your company culture describes the shared attitudes and behaviours that shape the way your team approaches the crunchiest business challenges and all the soft people-y stuff in between. Your culture is basically the difference between the impression your job description gives out and what it feels like to actually work at the company. But it can be a tricky thing to measure.

A ‘healthy’ corporate culture means a workplace where people feel motivated, comfortable and connected. An unhealthy one has the opposite effect. Getting a steer on what employees think about your business, how they behave day-to-day, and how they feel at work are all good measures of how healthy your internal culture is. 

Collecting data on this stuff means you can:

  • Measure up the employee experience across different teams and departments
  • Decide what needs to change – and where to focus your energy
  • Check whether your company values reflect the business 
  • Compare responses from particular audiences, which can be helpful for Diversity & Inclusion reporting
  • See what impact new culture or wellbeing initiatives are having on employee satisfaction

Like that wise old HR proverb says, what gets measured, gets managed. Keeping track of your culture means you’ll know where to invest your time and budget to make a real difference.

The culture data you collect can be quantitative, if you’d like an objective number to track over time, or qualitative, if you’d like to analyse more detailed feedback in your employees’ own words. We’ll look at ways to collect both kinds, so you can decide what’ll work best for you.  

What employees think 

Run a quarterly eNPS (quantitative)

Predictably, the best way to see what your team thinks about your business is to ask. An eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) survey is a popular and objective system to keep track of employee satisfaction. And it’s quick to complete, too. You’ll be measuring the response to a single question once a quarter: How likely are you to recommend us as a place to work?

Your team will record their responses on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the most likely to recommend your company. You can use any survey software you like to get this question in front of your colleagues, but the most important thing for an honest response is to communicate that the answers will remain anonymous.

  • Anyone who scores a 9 or 10 is called a ‘promoter’. 
  • Anyone who scores 7 or 8 is ‘passive’.
  • Anyone who scores 6 or less is a ‘detractor’. 

To get to your score, use the following sum.

The minimum score is -100, the maximum is 100. The higher your eNPS score, the better regarded your company is by employees. It might seem simple, but you can use your score as a baseline indicator of your culture as a whole (though it might be best to mix it in with some of the qualitative ideas on this page for a rounder picture). 

Start doing exit interviews (qualitative) 

When someone leaves your business, take the opportunity to give them a structured exit interview. This is when they can be most honest about all aspects of your business culture and employee experience. Think about the big questions that’ll give you a better understanding of any cultural weak spots, as well as ideas to improve:

  • Why did you join? (This one’s been made famous by Patagonia’s Dan Carter, who flipped “why are you leaving?” on its head to better gauge how the company experience matches up against its initial promise. “Did we deliver?” is a good follow up.) 
  • What are you hoping to find in your new position?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • How would you describe the culture here? 
  • Do you feel like we stick to our company values?
  • How would you improve team morale? 
  • Did you feel personally valued here?

Make sure to keep a record of exit interviews (anonymised, if appropriate) and see which themes keep cropping up. This should give you a better idea about where to focus your attention.

‍How employees behave 

Company culture KPIs (quantitative)

You’re probably already measuring plenty of useful metrics that can give you a glimpse into the health of your company culture. How you define ‘good’ varies by industry, brand architecture, company size, age and outlook, but in general, happier, more engaged employees are better for business (hooray!). So, you’re looking for any measures that might clue you in:

  • Absenteeism. If employees are taking more time off than usual, it’s a good indication that they’re stressed, tired, ill or burned out
  • Turnover rates. Are employees sticking around once you’ve hired and trained them? If not, you might be underdelivering against the working culture you promised in the interview process, or undercompensating people for their efforts.  
  • Communication metrics. How many people open, read or respond to your company-wide emails, intranet pages or Slack posts gives you an idea about how connected people feel to the company. You could also look at average attendance at company meetings and events. 
  • Productivity. If your team is consistently underdelivering against set KPIs, you’ve got a golden opportunity to investigate whether your expectations are too high (which may indicate a communication issue), your team morale is low (a broader culture issue), or your team feel under equipped to perform at their best (a practical issue). 
  • Holidays. Does everyone in your team feel comfortable taking their whole holiday allowance? If not, why not? At Spill, we made holidays a KPI because we think they are so crucial to maintaining good morale, collaboration and communication between teams. 

SWOT analysis (qualitative)

This workshop takes a little organisation, but it can be a valuable way to hear directly from your team and collaboratively decide where your culture is thriving – and where it needs a bit of a steer. 

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and you’ll want to plot them on a great big axis. Give everyone access to an unreasonable pile of biscuits, post-its and pens (or the digital equivalent).

👉 Option 1: use your value statements to help you

Let’s look at one of your company values. Transparency: we share information freely with everyone in the business.

Get your team to think around this value and plot their ideas on the chart. A strength might be that every team meeting is recorded and circulated. A weakness might be that the business’s financial situation is kept secret. A threat might be that employees can’t report concerns anonymously, and an opportunity might be hosting a weekly demos meeting so that new work is shared between teams

👉 Option 2: freestyle

If you’d rather not use your brand values as a starting point, give your team complete freedom to contribute ideas to the chart. One way to stay focused on actions and behaviours is to stipulate that each idea starts with “We do…” or “We don’t…”

Once you’ve finished adding ideas and playing them back, give everyone 5 votes. Get the team to vote for whichever ideas have (or could have) the biggest impact on your company culture. Follow up this workshop with consolidated notes, and a plan of action. The idea is to play to your strengths, act on your weaknesses, realise your opportunities and minimise the threats. 

If some of your core values feel a bit wobbly after this workshop, then this is a good pause point to see how you can uphold them better, or review them with a more democratic mindset. 

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How employees feel

Another piece of the culture puzzle is regularly asking your employees how they feel. This can happen in 1-1 manager meetings, but you’ll want to send a proper wellbeing survey – ideally once a month – to collect and compare employee data over time. Unlike an eNPS survey, a wellbeing survey should give you a bit more direction about how energised your team’s feeling, and where your culture might be lacking. 

Of course, there are other ways to measure the mood of your team. You can get tools specifically designed for the job, which arm your managers with insights about company wellbeing overall. 

We designed Team Check-ins, which are available to any company that’s signed up to mental health support from Spill. You can add a Check-in to any regular team meeting, so participants are nudged to answer two quick questions about their mood before they join the call.

Insights like these help you to spot any changes over time, and take action quicker if your company mood takes a dip. With Spill, the results are also monitored by a qualified therapist, who’ll reach out to any individuals who seem to be struggling.

§Low morale is one of the first clues that something’s amiss. If you don’t take action, it can spread quickly and override any positive efforts you’ve been making to boost your culture internally. 

Measuring culture in the workplace might take some trial and error

Culture is a bit of a slippery term. A thriving workplace culture will look completely different if you’re working in a banking startup or a veterinary practice (and just as well). There are some important wellbeing principles that we believe can improve any workplace. But beyond these, it’s your people who set your culture. You can steer them with brand values, but you’ll never know what’s working (or not working) until you ask. 

Be mindful when you set out to measure your culture that a mix of these initiatives might give you the best big picture. A wellbeing survey, for example, will give you a good idea about mood and morale, but it’s less telling about how connected your employees feel to the business as a whole. 

And remember, all the juicy data you’ve collected is only helpful if you 

  • Measure it regularly
  • Share your insights
  • Take action

You might consider setting up a culture committee with a crack team of employees to share your findings, and create a plan for meaningful change. That’s the other good thing about measuring culture regularly: you’ll see in the data when your plans are working. Hopefully, you’ll feel it, too. 

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