Can You Measure Corporate Culture?

The quick answer is yes. But to measure corporate culture, you must define it. When people hear the word, “culture” they might think of how people in other countries do things differently. Or they might imagine a room full of “cultured” upper class people dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns while staring at art and listening to classical music. Culture might sound like something so vague and hard to pin down that it can get pushed off to the side. In organizations, however, culture is vital. It’s the identity of the business: How it works, what it values, what it communicates and how it’s seen by its employees, clients and the public.   

Why is it so important?

Wikipedia defines the word culture as the following: 

  • A way of life of groups of people, meaning the way they do things. 
  • The outlook, attitudes, values, morals, goals, and customs shared by a society.  

When an organization decides on its culture, it acts like a business GPS. It makes the pathway forward a lot clearer. A defined corporate culture helps everyone in the organization to more easily make decisions and take action that’s always aligned with getting to the same place. 

Without it, everyone in the organization will have a different idea of where they’re going and what matters. 

The famous philosopher and writer, Albert Camus, said, “Without culture and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle.”

Do you have a corporate culture?

Organizations that are ahead of the game define culture upfront and encourage their employees to live that culture every day in their behaviors and work. In our article titled What is Workplace Culture? we take a closer look at the Virgin Group in particular, founded by Richard Branson. Other organizations, however, don’t define it at all. So, for better or worse, the culture gets shaped by the changing actions and values of its managers and employees – sometimes with disastrous results.  

All organizations have a culture, whether they choose to admit it or not. If, for example, managers don’t share information with their employees, they make it clear to employees and clients that inclusion and transparency is not something their culture values. 

Vital signs to measure your cultural health:

But the good news is that with time and ongoing commitment, organizational cultures can be changed for the better. But first, to see where you’re going, you’ve got to see where you are. Here are a few vital signs to check the current health of your culture: 

  • Is everyone communicating regularly, easily and comfortably with each other?
  • Are ideas encouraged, heard and used?
  • Are the organization’s mission and values shared on a regular basis?
  • Are workplace contributions noticed and appreciated on an ongoing basis?
  • Does everyone work well together?
  • How is the mental and physical health of the employees?
  • Are employees comfortable in their workplace?
  • Do employees feel that their managers have their back?

Smartly designed surveys can help to measure your current state. Then you can get to work on creating your new identity and making plans for how to get there.  It may sound like a lot of territory to cover, but the great thing is that you can rest assured that it’ll be worth the effort. Corporate culture has tremendous power – it can keep the best employees or have them running for the door. 

As noted in a Forbes magazine article called, 10 Proven Methods for Measuring the ROI of Company Culture, “It’s an intangible thing most of the time, but a solid, resilient culture can be a massive benefit to the business. Excellent company culture increases employee retention and can even motivate workers in a way nothing else can.”

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