Time for a Workplace Culture Survey?

“Don’t ask me a lot of questions if you don’t like the answers” ― Ernest Hemingway

A workplace culture survey is a tool used by employers to collect insights from the employees about the organization and evaluate how well-aligned an organization’s culture is with its values and vision.  In today’s competitive employment environment, it is better to know what is working well and what work needs to be done to improve the environment rather than assuming you have culture nailed.  After all, studies show that every aspect of workplace culture directly or indirectly impacts business and the bottom-line.

An organization’s culture is a product of its history, traditions, values, vision, and the prevalent leadership style.  A culture survey can help diagnose a gap between the current culture and management’s hopes and expectations for the organization.  A survey can help an organization analyze the employee feedback and perceptions about what is working and areas to improve.  Input from employees can also provide valuable insights to leadership that it is time to revisit the vision, structure or strategy of the company.

A couple of simple rules to follow before implementing a culture survey in your workplace:

  1. Don’t do a survey unless you are serious about listening to your employees, communicating the results and changing the culture. Consider getting employees involved with areas identified as needing improvement.  Front line employees many times have the best and most practical ideas to get the culture on track.  At a minimum, communicate out results in a timely manner and provide a road map to address concerns relayed.
  2. Consider using an outside vendor to conduct the survey. This gives your employees the confidence that the survey and their results are confidential.  Often employees don’t trust the process and therefore will not give honest answers to the survey questions.
  3. Timing is everything. Rolling out a culture survey in a workplace where there has been a recent RIF, management turnover, big “all-hands-on-deck” project, etc. might not be the best time.  Think about an appropriate time for a survey, including, if the company is experiencing regrettable turnover, an inability to fill critical roles, declining customer satisfaction, if leadership has become complacent that “all is well” or when new leadership is taking the helm.

Some sample questions often asked in a culture survey include:

  1. On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our organization to your friends and colleagues?

Similar to the NPS, or Net Promoter Score used to assess customer satisfaction, this is called an eNPS or Employee Net Promoter Score.  The eNPS helps to measure an employee’s loyalty.  If your employees are satisfied and happy at work, they will often boast about their workplace and the culture with friends and on social media. Also, employees who love their job and workplace will often times recommend their network and followers apply for jobs within the organization and create better customer experiences.

  1. Do you feel respected by your team, management and the organization?

An employee can grow in situations and environments where he/she feels respected.  This question in a survey is important in understanding whether the employee’s coworkers and management respect him.

  1. Does your manager provide you with timely feedback about your work?

Employee feedback is key for personal and professional growth. Feedback can help an employee get better at their job and surprisingly employees crave feedback and more often than not report not receiving enough.

  1. Has leadership articulated a vision for the future that motivates you?

Employees are more likely to engage when they are connected to the vision and strategy.

Culture surveys are a key component in the strategic planning process and allow the voice of the employee to inform the plan.  Take advantage of the opportunity to ask for feedback and lean into the future.