5 min read
There’s a simple, straightforward way your organization can improve morale, retention rates, productivity, and customer service; lower absenteeism; gain insights into issues affecting employees across departments; and generally gauge the fit between your employees and the greater company culture.
You ask them.
Employee surveys are a powerful tool you can use to improve your organization and the whole of the employee experience. And employee survey questions about culture specifically help you tailor your response and solutions for maximum benefit.
A culture survey measures employees’ perceptions of company culture and is designed to assess whether it aligns with that of the organization.
Measuring, or even quantifying a company culture is tough but necessary. It’s a combination of so many company-defining initiatives and factors: your company values; leadership and management style; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts.
One of the most important reasons for a company culture survey is to help identify persistent issues and unconscious biases that are rarely obvious.
In a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, “72% of executives, vice presidents and higher in rank report that “their overall organizational culture has improved since the beginning of the pandemic.” Yet, only 14% of Americans agreed with that assessment.
Are managers and leaders leading effectively? Are they encouraging transparency? Are employees engaged, stressed, or isolated? Are they experiencing a healthy work life balance?
These are some of the company culture survey questions you can answer with these surveys - and the mere act of trying sends a positive message to employees that you value their opinion and want to act on it.
With so many influential business areas tied into company culture, you know why you should be conducting workplace culture surveys. Now it’s time to figure out exactly what you should be asking in those workplace culture surveys.
There are an endless amount of questions you could ask to get an idea of how your employees feel about the company culture. But no one wants an endless survey. Finding the right questions to ask at the right time is part of how to properly conduct a company culture survey. But that’s a topic for another section. Hang tight.
For now, let’s start with basic questions you could find on most company culture surveys. These can help provide a baseline and help you identify specific areas to follow up on.
These are two questions that should be featured on all employee engagement surveys, and since employee engagement is a key piece of company culture, it should find its way onto this one, too. The connection employees feel to their work and company is a key indicator of the strength of a company’s culture.
Community and connection are at the heart of an organization’s culture. How employees feel about their peers and colleagues affects their ability to handle change, their stress levels, and, ultimately, the likelihood that they’re contributing to a positive work culture.
The relationship between managers and employees is one of the most critical in the office. Open and honest communication will make both the manager and employee better at problem-solving, providing meaningful feedback, and creating a mutual appreciation that is so important to finding flexibility and a more harmonious work life balance.
You cannot have a healthy company culture without psychological safety.
If people feel they can’t bring their whole selves to work, if they’re fearful of voicing opinions or sharing ideas, you don’t have a positive culture. You should want a culture that encourages employees to be open and honest and that starts with psychological safety.
When a work environment is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, it affects everything from hiring to employee engagement to the bottom line.
Forbes found that teams make better decisions. Glassdoor reported 67% of job seekers view it as an important factor in evaluating a company. A Deloitte survey found 83% of millennials report being actively engaged when they feel the workplace is inclusive. And Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture a new market.
The strength of your company culture and the ceiling of your company success hinges on company efforts to make the work environment more just. And company culture surveys are a great place to figure out what’s working and where you’re coming up short.
A workplace culture survey shouldn’t be conducted on a whim. You will need a plan.
When ideating company culture survey questions, first ask yourself some questions about what you hope to gain from conducting the workplace culture survey to begin with.
Why are you conducting it? What’s the endgame? What data do you need and how will you gather it?
One of the most important steps you can take to ensure a reliable workplace culture survey is to include data scientists in its design and analysis phases. Basic scientific methodology can help eliminate confirmation, selection, and social desirability bias.
As it relates to questions, data scientists account for the order, language, and types of questions. That way you’re not guessing what, whom, or when to ask questions - instead, a framework is guiding you.
There are also some common mistakes to avoid when constructing any survey, whether it be a culture survey or a more general pulse survey. For one, conduct them periodically.
Once per year is too infrequent, as ideally you want to find a cadence that allows you to act on issues before it’s too late. Conducting it once per week on the other hand is probably a bit too much and it brings us to mistake number two: not factoring in survey fatigue.
Too many company culture surveys will result in employees failing to complete them. The same could happen with a culture survey that is itself too long. Because of that, length and difficulty are things to keep in mind when developing questions and another reason why it’s important to work with data scientists in the development of the survey.
One of the biggest mistakes you could make is not acting on the information gleaned from the company culture survey. If employees perceive that the exercise is all talk, no walk, employee responses will eventually dwindle.
And while this entire article is about how you can use surveys to improve company culture, you can’t rely on data alone. Qualitative feedback using open-ended questions is just as important as the averages.
Work culture surveys are an effective tool for your company toolbox to help gauge the strength of your organizational culture, but it’s best when it is used in tandem with other tools and strategies.
You might even be able to gauge workplace culture by events and activities outside of the office. Volunteer days for employees, department outings, and team-building initiatives help connect people beyond the day-to-day work they’re doing.
This improves connection and communication and has a powerful downstream effect on the entire company.
A positive company culture creates a positive work environment, it values employee wellbeing, it encourages meaningful employee feedback, and it can make all the difference between dissatisfied employees and satisfied employees.
A strong company culture survey keeps that positive company culture on track and thriving.
Wondering how your organization would answer questions like these?
Using Workhuman's forever-free tool, Moodtracker®, can help you find out. Start today!
About the author
Mike is a senior content marketing specialist at Workhuman where he writes about the next era of the workplace. Outside the workplace, he’s an avid gardener, a frequent biker, a steadily improving chef, and a fantasy sports fanatic.
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