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How to Define, Evaluate and Improve Your Company Culture

Sarah Corley
#Industry Insights, #News & Culture
Published on September 4, 2018

Diagram's Sarah Corley shares how to define, evaluate and improve the culture within your company.

According to Deloitte, 94% of executives (and a whopping 88% of employees) believe that a distinct work culture is the key to success. However, Deloitte also details that only 19% of executives believe their company has the right culture. So what can upper management do to make sure their culture wows prospective employees while keeping current employees engaged and aligned?

Let's make sure we're aligned on the definition of company culture and then chat about how to evaluate and improve it.

Company Culture Defined

Company culture can be interchanged with the term organizational culture, which Aperian Global perfectly defines as, "an all-encompassing term of the workplace. It comprises the environment in which we work, the standards to which we are held, the relationships we have with our colleagues, the processes in which we communicate, and the unspoken beliefs we share with team members."

Company values, morals, habits, location, employees, service offerings and perks combined make a company's culture or, as I like to refer to it, a company DNA. Each company has different DNA based on the people employed, the values and the leadership. CultureIQ recently performed a study and found that work environment, support systems, and mission and value alignment are the company culture qualities with the greatest impact on employee satisfaction.

Speaking of employee satisfaction, productivity is also directly linked to customer loyalty and overall growth of company revenue. Bain & Co shares 7-year research that highlights organizations with engaged employees growing company revenue 2.5x as much as companies with lesser engaged employees.

"Engaged employees go the extra mile to deliver. Their enthusiasm rubs off on other employees and on customers. They provide better experiences for customers, approach the job with energy—which enhances productivity—and come up with creative product, process and service improvements." — Bain & Co

It's clear that business owners want the best return on investment (ROI) from their employees. As Forbes phrases it, "Think about the reverse of that: besides a paycheck, what are your employees getting out of this exchange?"

Company culture evaluated

"Study after study shows that healthy organizations — where employees feel valued and love coming to work — typically outperform companies where employees feel replaceable and pitted against each other." --Recode<

When you ask employees and upper level execs if they have a company culture of "teamwork", most will agree with you. The problem is that a list of company values doesn't solely make up a company culture. A great follow-up question to ask? Ask for specific examples of how employees demonstrate (insert company value here) in both their personal and professional lives. This follow up question will highlight whether company values are truly a part of an employee lives.

In its ultimate guide to Net Promoter Scores (NPS), HubSpot defines a NPS score as a customer service benchmark to help you define how likely your customers are to recommend your business to a friend. Similarly, your organization should have an internal NPS score. What are your employees saying about your company to their friends? Is there a disconnect between your website copy and what takes place on a daily basis?

One of the best ways to do this is through talking to your current employees. This could be through group interviews, company/townhall meetings or employee surveys. In order to know where you want to be, you need to know where your company culture currently stands. Be sure to ask specific ways of how employees want things to change around the office. Here at Diagram we have flexible work hours, standing desks and casual dress.

Company Culture Improved

The best way to improve company culture is to let your employees have a voice in shaping it. The first thing to remember is that trust is the foundational element to company culture. Based on the feedback you receive, being transparent with your employees and sharing how the company plans to improve will go miles in building trust amongst your team.

Most companies struggle to make sure that their culture is consistent across all departments. As CultureAmp asks, "Is your unique culture reflected everywhere from the mailroom to the C-Suite?"

If you find gaps, brainstorm with your employees to figure out what you can do to strengthen the company culture continuity. I'm sure they'll have some great ideas. For example, if your culture is prevalent everywhere except on the sales side, maybe you could work with the sales to rewrite some copy for their email templates to make it more accurately reflect your message.

Holding a once a year company culture survey or discussion is not enough! Why wait so long? Monthly or bi-monthly demonstrates your commitment to employees. By measuring and improving company culture on a continuous basis, you'll set up your team and company for success—success in recruiting and retaining high-quality employees.