Company culture refers to the way your team members’ communication and behavior reflect your organization’s values and goals. A good company culture creates a healthier and happier workplace, leading to better productivity and employee retention.
On the way to creating a healthy workplace culture, culture audits can help. A culture audit is a process conducted internally in an organization. It quantifies your workplace culture, so you can see how your workers are communicating and acting and how well your organization is reflecting its values at a specific point in time.
The final written report of a culture audit gives you an overview of your company’s culture by looking at the following concepts.
- Leadership styles
- Operations, including company policies and processes
- Company vision
- Behavior in the workplace
- Communication styles
- Working environment
- How others see your culture
- Incentive programs
- Employee programs, such as employee resource groups or social groups organized by the company
- Employee views
Organizations can conduct a culture audit themselves or hire third-party services to audit them. At some organizations, leaders choose to conduct audits every few years to make sure workplace culture is on track. It can also be a good idea to run a culture audit after big changes such as a merger or change in management, or after creating new initiatives to change workplace culture in order to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts.
Why Conduct a Culture Audit?
94% of executives report that company culture is important to success. Research proves them right. In one study, companies with cultures that enhanced performance saw net income grow 756% over eleven years, while companies whose culture did not enhance performance saw net income grow only 1% in that same period.
A culture audit can make your culture clearer and more tangible, so it stays at the forefront of your efforts and allows you to seek those returns on investment. In addition, a culture audit can do the following.
- Pinpoint culture problems. A culture audit can help uncover dissatisfied employees, communication problems, and other, sometimes hidden, issues.
- Help build a stronger workplace culture. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. By taking the pulse of your company culture, a culture audit helps you target areas for improvement, and it may even provide ideas for initiatives to implement.
- Give your workers a voice. Employees may not always get a chance to speak up when they notice a culture problem. A culture audit opens space for workers to voice their views.
- Evaluate your efforts to improve company culture. Maybe you’ve started celebrating some holidays, have created a culture committee, or have taken other steps to create a great workplace. Culture audits can show you how your company culture is improving, so you can make any needed adjustments, continue initiatives that are successful or change those that aren’t working.
- Help you retain talent. Studies have shown that 48% of employees who feel they are working at a business with a poor company culture will start seeking new employment. A culture audit can help you find out if your employers are unhappy, so you can make changes before they leave.
What Are the Best Practices for a Successful Culture Audit?
Now that you know the benefits of a company culture audit, here are our tips to make the process a success.
Set up your culture audit.
Before you launch your culture audit, you will want to step back and plan for success. Here are some ideas on how.
Decide on a goal.
Determine why you want to run a culture audit now. What will your culture audit assess? Are you noticing problems, or do you want to find out how culture initiatives are landing?
Next, think about what kind of culture you need to build to fulfill your company’s mission and goals. What do you need to know from a culture audit to reach those goals? For example, if you want to grow quickly as a business, a culture audit may determine whether rapid growth is negatively impacting your employees or whether they are inspired by this company goal.
Create a team, timeline, and budget.
Assemble a team from different departments to conduct your culture audit. Leaders, directors, and managers from marketing, accounting, HR, and other departments can all give you different perspectives on culture. Once you have a team, decide when you need the final audit report and how many resources you can spare.
Create a framework.
Looking at your audit goals, create a plan that will help you meet them. Who will you ask about company culture? Will you conduct surveys or interviews? If so, what questions will be asked?
Once you have completed the prep work, it’s time to start getting the data you need. There are three main places you can turn for information about your company culture: your company processes, operations, and everyday life at the company; your employees’ opinions; and the world outside your company. Here are some suggestions on how to get the information you need from all of these areas.
Conduct anonymous, voluntary surveys so your employees feel comfortable answering honestly. Surveys can help you evaluate how our workers are seeing workplace culture show up every day. This can help you see whether your workplace culture is developing the way you want it to.
For example, if you’re trying to build an inclusive culture but your employees think your workplace is corporate and formal, you might want to make some changes.
You can use a tool like Connecteam surveys to easily poll your employees. Just set up questions and send out the surveys directly to your workers via the app. You might want to ask a variety of question; here are some examples.
- In a few words, how would you describe our company culture?
- Could you describe a recent situation that captures what our workplace culture is like?
- What are our goals and mission?
- How well do you think our company reflects the image we project to the world?
- What do you think would improve our company culture?
- What works in our workplace?
- What doesn’t currently work in our company and in how we do things?
- How do people talk to each other and communicate with each other at this company?
Interviews and group chats
Ask your work team if anyone is willing to chat in a group or in one-on-one interviews about company culture. You can set up chats on a platform like Connecteam chat, which allows workers to securely communicate their ideas.
Group chats and interviews won’t be anonymous, but they can create conversations with more depth than a survey. You can ask follow-up questions and have an ongoing discussion this way. Keep the atmosphere casual and consider perks like gift cards or snacks as a “thank you” to those who take part.
It’s beneficial to keep an open attitude and avoid pushing back against employee opinions, especially those that aren’t positive; doing so is likely to shut your employees down and make it harder to find out about the exact issues you are looking for.
If you use feedback forms, customer surveys, or other ways to get customer reviews, look at the information you’ve gotten from these sources. Search online for reviews and comments left about your company. This can give you an idea of what the public experiences when interacting with your company and its workers.
A review of your workplace
Your auditors may also want to look at the workplace itself to get an idea of company culture. You might want to look at the following areas.
- Your physical workplace. How does the workplace feel? Does the look and experience of the workplace feel consistent? If you have uniforms for your workers, what kind of impression do they make? Does that impression reflect your culture? Do the colors, logos, and signs of your company reflect your intended workplace culture?
- Your virtual workplace. If, like many companies, you have deskless or mobile workers, what is their experience like? Is their cultural experience like the experience of any office workers? Are deskless workers included in workplace activities and events, including celebrations? If you use an online platform to communicate with deskless workers, does the look, functionality, and feel of the tech reflect the culture you want? For example, if you have a relaxed and fun workplace, does your online tech reflect that casual tone?
- Employee behavior. Walk around with your workers and observe. What behaviors and communication are common? What are the expectations? How do people greet and talk to each other? What language and expressions do they use? How often do workers talk to each other? How often do team members say positive, supportive things to each other?
- Events. What do you celebrate together as a company? How do you recognize accomplishment? If you can, look at photos or videos of past events. Do these reflect the culture you want to build? Are there any types of events and celebrations that may be missing?
- Leadership perspectives. Talk to leaders to get their perspectives on company culture. Is it a priority for them? Do they think company culture is positive, and how do their opinions match employee views? Do leaders talk to workers often? How well does the leadership team know employees and managers?
- Operations and practices. What rules, processes, and policies are in place? How are they communicated? What kind of culture do your policies, processes, and rules support? Are hiring, training, onboarding, disciplinary, and firing processes consistent with your company culture? What is getting measured at the business?
Social media. If your business has an online presence, does the image you project in your social media accounts and your website reflect the company culture? What are people saying about the company online?
Analyze your findings.
Once you have gathered information, you may have lots of separate pieces of data. A good way to analyze is to go back to your audit goal and look at the data through that lens. If you wanted to uncover any hidden problems, focus on any suggestions or negative comments you have found. If you wanted to evaluate the impact of a new cultural initiative, divide your data into comments about the company before and after the initiative, so you can compare the two.
Look for themes and trends. If multiple people suggest there is a communication problem, you want to pay attention.
Report what you have learned.
Once you have reached some conclusions, compile a report you can share with leaders and maybe even team members. This report should summarize what you have found and provide some recommendations for changes you can make.
Make changes based on your findings.
Audits are just one part of the process of managing workplace culture. Even if you find you are going in the direction you want to be going, make sure to take action based on your findings in order to continue positive trends and fix any problems you’ve encountered.
Culture Audits Help Your Company Grow
A culture audit is a positive process and can even be enjoyable, as employees might find it pleasant to talk about language and communication styles and may feel good about being able to give their opinions. At the end of your audit, you should have a report you can share with leadership about your conclusions and suggestions for a workplace that’s more in tune with company values and goals.
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