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Analyzing Company Culture for Organizational Success

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Company culture is one of the biggest topics in business right now. But how do you know if yours is working, and how can you examine what elements of it actually engage your employees? This guide will explore how company culture analysis can take your organization to the next level. 

When candidates are looking for a job these days one of the biggest things on their mind is company culture. 

In fact, for the vast majority of people, culture is the single most important factor that determines whether they will look for another job or stay with their current employer. 

Yes, you read that right. It’s not money that’s motivating people, or perks, or the spacious corner office and company cars. It’s culture. That’s why so many organizations are investing heavily to ensure that their culture stands out from the crowd. 

The problem with culture however is that it’s inherently intangible. 

Ask 20 different people to define what company culture is and you’ll probably get 20 different answers. And that’s before you even begin to ask them what elements of your company culture are most important to them. 

As a result, businesses face a difficult challenge. Most now know the role that company culture can play in their success (or indeed failure). But despite its importance, what they don’t yet understand is how to accurately measure it. 

So what does effective company culture analysis look like and how can it benefit your organization? Read on to find out. 

company culture analysis

In this guide, you will learn…

What is work culture?

What good company culture looks like

How company culture drives success

How to conduct a company culture analysis

Identifying your company culture

Putting your analysis into action

What is Company Culture? 

People throw around the term “company culture” a lot these days, but what exactly does it mean. 

In basic terms – company culture is the term we use to describe the environment that you create for your employees to work in. It’s not necessarily the physical space that they inhabit (though that can be a part of it). Instead, it’s the collection of principles, ideologies, beliefs and values that are shared by everyone who works there. 

It’s something that is not only shared by everybody but created by everybody too. From the CEO to the janitor, your company culture is the sum total of every interaction that takes place within your business. 

It’s the way you treat your customers, the way you respond to emails, your approach to vacation, your company dress code, the way you conduct meetings and thousands of other little things that all come together to create a company culture.  

If all of that sounds pretty complex, it’s because it is. And to make matters worse, workplace culture isn’t something you can nail down. It’s a moving target. That’s why company culture analysis is so important. After all, how are you going to hit that target if you don’t even know what it looks like in the first place? 

analyzing workplace culture

What Does a Good Company Culture Look Like? 

When it comes to the workplace, not all cultures are created equally. 

You’ve no doubt experienced this for yourself. Some of the places you’ve worked have probably felt like a family – a place where everyone is supported and who in turn, do their best to support their colleagues as they drive towards success. At the other end of the spectrum are the cultures you couldn’t wait to escape from, the places where toxicity reigns and where everyone feels overworked and undervalued. 

In between these two extremes are multiple shades of gray. Cultures vary wildly from organization to organization and though researchers have worked to categorize them, breaking positive cultures down into different categories, every one is unique. 

But even though they’re hard to define, there are some characteristics that are common to good company cultures.

People feel valued

Everyone wants to feel like they’re important and that their contributions make a difference to the company they are working in. That’s why the very best company cultures ensure that their people know their value and don’t just treat them as another cog in the machine that can be easily replaced. 

What this looks like in practice very much depends on the organization. Some take the effort to understand who their people are both inside and outside of work, so that they can show a genuine interest in their personal and professional achievements. Others ensure that communication is a key priority and that regular conversations are taking place with employees across the company.

Employees are recognized and rewarded

Employee recognition is so much more than just saying “thank you” for a job well done. It’s a basic human need, something that our brains naturally respond to and something that can pay dividends for organizations that embrace it. That’s why employee recognition is often a cornerstone of positive company cultures. 

Wellbeing is prioritized

Health and wellbeing are key concerns for your employees. In an age of overworking and burnout, your people want to know that their job won’t harm their mental or physical health and that your company will take steps to protect them from negativity. The very best cultures ensure that wellbeing is front and center in everything they do. At a basic level that could involve giving your employees access to healthy snacks, or in more complex cases, expanding your benefits package to offer better health incentives or support.

analyzing workplace culture

The environment is supportive

Where would you rather work? An environment where there are tight deadlines, where your work is micromanaged and your day-to-day activity is closely monitored? Or somewhere where you are trusted to work in the way you want to, given the responsibility to take on new challenges and enabled to push new boundaries? When your people are given the freedom to own their work it can create an enormous sense of empowerment and pride that translates into a thriving company culture.

Great leaders

We all understand the value of leadership, but when it comes to company culture you simply cannot underestimate its impact. The kind of companies that employees want to work for are filled with supportive leaders, the kind of managers who help employees fulfil their potential, accommodate their needs, offer encouragement, support their development and ensure that they are always engaged. Great cultures not only value this kind of leadership but ensure it runs throughout every level of the organization from the C-suite down. 

Work is meaningful 

People want purpose. They want their jobs to mean something and to see the impact that their hard work has on your business and the wider world. Companies with great cultures immerse their people in their mission and values, they help them to understand the bigger picture as well as the specific role that their work has on it. Helping people to understand the impact of their contributions gives them something to work towards, fuelling the kind of engagement that every company wants to create.

Work/life balance

Another key indicator of good company culture is work/life balance. Offering your employees the opportunity to work in hybrid or remote settings can have a huge impact, while flexible working hours enable them to fit work in around their personal lives and not the other way around. It’s a small step that makes a big difference to the lives of your employees and in turn your company culture. 

company culture analysis

What Matters Most to Employees? 

We all know that people are the lifeblood of any business, but that sentiment is more true today than it ever has been. That’s because the balance of power has shifted over recent years, with the pendulum swinging firmly in favor of employees.

It all started with the so-called Great Resignation that followed COVID-19. After lockdowns and restrictions ended workers across the world found themselves at a crossroads. Driven by a desire for better work/life balance, fresh challenges and higher wages – many decided to quit their jobs. 

But even though the global pandemic is now firmly in our rearview mirror, in today’s marketplace it’s employees who are in the driving seat. Driven by skills gaps, the rise in remote working and generational shifts, there are more open positions right now than there are employees to fill them. 

However, as the Battle for Talent has raged, company culture has emerged as something of a secret weapon that’s separating the winners from the losers. And when it comes to conducting your company culture analysis, you need to think about the kind of workplace that today’s employees are looking for and adjust accordingly.

So what matters most to employees? Most are looking for all of the aspects we’ve outlined above. They’re looking for trust, flexibility, rewards, supportive environments and great leadership. They’re looking for a positive workplace culture that they can be a part of. Most of all however they’re looking for authenticity. You see, today’s employees can easily tell the difference between a company that says it does the right things and a company that does the right things. So you can’t just talk the talk, you’re going to have to walk the walk too. 

Analyzing your culture: What matters most to employees?

✅Respect – Employees feel respected, treated with dignity and trusted to perform their roles without micromanagement.

✅Heard – Employees feel like their voice is heard and they matter to the company.

✅Purpose – Employees have a purpose, and understand the role that they play in the bigger picture.

✅Recognition and rewards – Employees feel recognized and rewarded for their efforts.

✅Perks and benefits – Employees feel like their company offers them great amenities, perks and benefits. 

✅Management – The company is filled with great leaders who create a positive work environment. 

✅Development – Career development opportunities alongside learning and development plans are available to all employees. 

✅Security – Employees value companies that provide them with job security.

company culture analysis

How Can Company Culture Drive Success?

Clearly, for employees, company culture is a big deal. Not only does it help to drive their decision-making but many also believe that it’s a key indicator of business success. That means that your company culture will be key to your retention and recruitment efforts, helping to give you the edge over the competition in today’s challenging talent market. 

But the benefits of company culture don’t stop there. From increased productivity to improved service, your company culture analysis will drive success across every aspect of your business. Here are just five of the ways that company culture can benefit your organization. 

1. Productivity

When your employees enjoy their work environment it doesn’t just put a smile on their faces, it also makes them more productive. It’s simple really – people who are invested in their roles work harder and are more passionate about helping to achieve your business objectives. This means that they’re ultimately more productive, driving your business to new heights. 

2. Financial returns

Companies with positive cultures have been shown to have higher stock prices, increased revenues and higher value compared to those who don’t. So company culture isn’t just good news for your employees, it’s good for your bottom line. 

3. Innovation 

Without fresh ideas, your operations can become stale allowing forward-thinking competitors to leave you in their wake. But positive company cultures can help. When a culture is inclusive, trusting, adaptable and encouraging then your people will become more creative – open to sharing their ideas and driving change at all levels. 

4. Customer service

If your business is custom-facing, then company culture can be your secret weapon to delivering exceptional service. When your employees are happy then they’re more likely to make your customers happy. They’re also more likely to stay in their roles, helping to build long-term relationships and repeat sales with your most loyal customers

5. Collaboration 

Working for a paycheck is a solitary pursuit. If all your people care about is their bank balance then they’re more likely to focus on doing the bare minimum to get the job done. However when they feel like they’re part of something they’re going to do everything in their power to accomplish that shared mission. That’s why company culture fuels collaboration because your people are inspired to come together to achieve something bigger than themselves. 

company culture analysis

How To Analyze Your Company Culture 

We’ve talked a lot about the theoretical ideas behind company culture, what influences it and how it can impact your employees. But now it’s time for some cold hard facts. This is why company culture analysis is so important, because it replaces ideas and anecdotal evidence with tangible metrics that you can track over time. 

When it comes to conducting your company culture analysis there are a few different routes you can go down. You can use one, some, or indeed all of these techniques as part of your own efforts. The bottom line however is that the more data you have the more insight your company culture analysis can offer.

So if you’re looking for ideas to kickstart your company culture analysis here are a few ways you can start measuring sentiment in your organization.

Staff reviews

Company culture isn’t just something that you write in an employee handbook or put on your website. It’s something that your people need to live and breathe every day and in every interaction. That means if you want to conduct any kind of company culture analysis it needs to be tied into your wider business operations. 

Employee reviews are the ideal opportunity for this. Whether they’re formal annual reviews or impromptu chats – ensure that values are a key part of the conversation. This will allow you to measure how effective your people are at demonstrating the kind of values that are at the core of your company culture, giving you the opportunity to see if your workforce is acting as you’d hoped or if there is still room for improvement. 

Engagement surveys

If you want to know how engaged your employees are, all you need to do is ask. Employee Engagement Surveys are an invaluable tool to help you measure how your people really feel about your culture. Because they give employees a platform to anonymously share their open and honest feedback – you won’t only get to hear about what your organization is doing right, but also what it needs to improve upon. 

This gives you a baseline, a tangible score that lets you know exactly where your employee engagement is succeeding, and where it needs improvement. Then, if you want to know if your efforts are working, you can conduct another survey to see if anything has changed. Conducting your surveys on a year-to-year basis is a good way to benchmark your results and ensure that your activity is constantly focused on improving your engagement.

company culture analysis

Pulse surveys

Similar to employee engagement questionnaires, pulse surveys are another tool leaders can use as part of their company culture analysis. These tend to be shorter and more frequent than typical employee engagement surveys, typically focussing on a specific issue. They can be exceptionally useful when you’ve made changes that might impact your company culture. For example, you may have recently completed a merger, moved to new offices or updated your perks and benefits. By conducting a quick pulse survey you can see how these have impacted your people and whether they’ve made a difference to your company culture. 

HR metrics

Though your HR teams don’t directly track a metric that specifically relates to company culture, they’re still a treasure trove of data. Information on retention rates, absenteeism, productivity and sick leave are all pieces of the puzzle that can be put together to form a bigger picture. Integrating these metrics as part of your company culture analysis can help you see how your company is performing. Typically positive cultures are reflected in high retention and productivity alongside low absenteeism and sick leave. 

External indicators

It’s not just within your organization that you can gather data for your company culture analysis, external resources can play a part too. Sites like Indeed and Glassdoor enable current and former employees to review your company culture. Because these forums offer people the opportunity to anonymously provide their feedback, they provide an excellent barometer by which you can measure the success or failure of your current culture. If your scores are positive, then it’s a good sign that you’re on the right track. But if negative reviews start to arise then it’s a sign that you need to act. 

Observe employee behaviour

Ok so, we’ll admit that this one isn’t the most scientific of approaches to company culture analysis. It’s not going to provide you with cold hard data, or a dashboard of information that you can track over time. But sometimes the eye test is still one of the best tools that leaders have at their disposal. That’s because your company culture will be directly reflected in people’s behavior. 

So take the time to note how your employees act, how they speak to one another, and how engaged they are in company meetings and team gatherings. Do they ask questions, push boundaries and challenge the status quo? Or are they quiet, shirk responsibility and have stopped communicating during team gatherings?

Observing these behaviors can help to back up the data that you receive from other areas of your company culture analysis, or provide an early warning that you need to take steps to address an issue before it’s too late. 

company culture analysis

How To Identify What Kind of Culture Your Company Has

Once you’ve conducted your company culture analysis you might want to put your findings into action. Now that you’re armed with some actionable intel on what your employees think about your organization, you can define exactly what your culture is. 

This is incredibly important because our personal view on the kind of company culture we think we’ve created can differ from reality. It’s human nature. We all put on our rose-tinted spectacles when it comes to something as important to us as our business and this can mean that we don’t see a clear picture of what our company culture is. Instead, we tend to see what we want to see. 

That isn’t going to get us anywhere, however. As the adage goes “You can’t measure what you don’t know” – so understanding exactly what your current culture looks like is a vital first step on your journey to changing it, or building on its foundations. 

The Competing Values Framework (CVF)

Your corporate culture is as unique as you are. That means that no amount of company culture analysis will be able to pin down the minutiae of what makes your business your business. However, there are some incredibly useful frameworks that can help you to categorize your company culture. These use broad brushstrokes to help you see what kind of ballpark you’re operating in, a starting point that you can use to define your workplace.

One of the most common is the Competing Values Framework (CVF)

Originally developed in the early 80s, the CVF is a framework that was developed to help organizations identify what they value the most. It’s a deceptively simple model based on the idea that most company cultures can be defined using two competing axes that run between opposite or competing values. 

What you’ll find as you begin your company culture analysis is that your data will begin to lean towards one of the four quadrants of the CVF. This will not only help you to locate where your current culture is at, but also the journey you will go on as you attempt to implement organizational change.

It’s a fantastic tool for quantifying something like culture, which is often difficult to put into actionable language.

The Four Quadrants

Each of the four quadrants of the CVF identifies different values, behaviors and ideals. Your organization’s culture will determine where you sit on the framework. So what kind of culture does each quadrant describe? 

Collaborate (Clan)

Companies that fall within this quadrant value communication, loyalty and teamwork in order to succeed. Collaborate cultures are often like an extended family where employees feel a strong sense of belonging and leaders are seen as mentors rather than managers.

Examples: Zappos, Patagonia.

Compete (Market)

This quadrant contains cultures that are focused heavily on profitability and the bottom line. Competitive, results-driven and zeroed in on performance – these cultures are the polar opposite of Collaborate or Clan cultures and aim to become market leaders and are often characterized by their agility and drive. 

Examples: Amazon, Apple.

Create (Adhocracy)

Focused on innovation above all else, companies with this kind of culture are typically fast-paced and experience fast growth. Employees are encouraged to think out-of-the-box and go above and beyond to come up with new products and technologies. If your company is creative, entrepreneurial and risk-taking then you probably fall into this quadrant. 

Examples: Tesla, Google. 

Control (Hierarchy)

Structured and process-orientated, Control or Hierarchy cultures are often found in traditional businesses that rely on designated job titles and a clear chain of command. With a heavy emphasis on order, procedure and process these organizations are often smooth-running and incredibly efficient. 

Examples: Goldman Sachs, the Military.

company culture analysis

Putting Your Company Culture Analysis Into Action 

Once you’ve conducted your company culture analysis all that’s left to do is to put the insight you’ve gathered into action. So what steps should you take to transform your analysis into tangible progress? 

Create benchmarks 

Once you’ve conducted your company culture analysis you need to collate your data and set benchmarks. These benchmarks will give you an accurate idea of exactly where your company culture currently stands and from this, you can set achievable goals. Turning the intangible idea of company culture into hard data can also help you track your progress over time and see if your efforts are improving the situation or making it worse.

Open a dialogue

The first step to building a better company culture is ensuring your employees know that they have a voice, that their opinions are valued and that their ideas are worthwhile. Your people will be vital to transforming your company culture analysis into action so get them involved from the very start. Perhaps you could hold a series of workshops to gather insight on what your people want to see change or appoint a task force with representatives from all levels of your business to help turn ideas into action. Whatever route you take your people need to come along for the ride. 

Act on feedback

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is not acting on the information they have gathered during their company culture analysis. Not only is this a missed opportunity but it also sends the message to your employees that culture doesn’t matter, the polar opposite of what you set out to achieve in the first place. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

You can’t go it alone. So if you truly want to move the needle on your company culture then you’re going to want to ask for help. Your HR team should be your first point of call. No one is better placed to tackle the issue and as they operate on the frontlines of your employee engagement they will play a vital role in supporting your efforts. There are also a number of outside consultants that can help you to kickstart the transformation process as well as solutions providers like Bucketlist, who make implementing new plans and programs easier than ever. 

Wrapping Up: Company Culture Analysis

Just like culture itself, when it comes to company culture analysis there are no hard and fast rules. 

Sometimes there are obvious signs that you need to check in on your culture. Occasionally there are landmark events or major disruptions that could rock the culture boat. More often than not, however, company culture analysis is an ongoing process – something that should have a set pattern as part of your ongoing operations. 

One thing we can say for sure however is that the importance of company culture analysis cannot be underestimated. There’s a reason why culture is one of the hottest topics in business right now and it’s something that isn’t going to go away any time soon. That means the soon you act to unlock the potential of a thriving company culture, the sooner you can begin to reap the benefits. 

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