Measure Workplace Culture To Unlock Potential

We know that workplace culture, more than strategy, contributes to business success. We also know Top Workplaces are intentional about culture. The first step in building a positive organizational environment is to measure the current culture climate. So, how do you do that?

measure workplace

Data and experience have taught us that the single most important measure of culture is engagement. For our purposes, I’ll discuss engagement in two different contexts:

  • The way employee engagement feels
  • How to measure engagement.

In an organization that has developed a culture of high engagement, visitors can feel the energy and passion. The sense of caring about coworkers and customers is palpable. Employees collaborate. Staff and customers feel appreciated and valued.

On the other hand, a culture of disengagement is also easily discernible. Employees fly out the door at 4:59 p.m. They pass the time playing games on their phones, isolate themselves in their cubicles, or exhibit a lack of creativity and initiative.

A third-party survey is the best way to measure employee engagement. It also provides a useful picture of organizational culture. We look at three things:

Motivation: Are employees motivated to give their best to a project? Or do they give the minimal amount of effort required to meet the parameters provided to them?

Retention: Are employees committed to staying at the organization? Turnover rate is a critical indicator of employee engagement. Our research shows that employees who believe in the organization and where it is headed are more likely to stick around.

Referral: Will employees recommend your organization to their friends? The best workplaces hire half of their new employees from personal references provided by existing staff.

So, what does the data reveal?

The data shows that in the general population, the level of employee engagement holds steady at a national average of 31 percent. That means nearly 70 percent of the workforce represents untapped potential! They lack desire to be at work. They’d rather be somewhere else. Consequently, they fail to perform at their best. And so, does the organization.

The picture looks a little better at “culture-aware” companies, organizations that focus on culture even if they haven’t quite cracked the code yet. In these organizations, an average of 46 percent of employees are engaged.

And then there are Top Workplaces, those that are intentional about culture. These standout organizations achieve double the national average with employee engagement levels close to 60 percent.

At the best-of-the-best — the top decile of intentional cultures — employee engagement averages an impressive 86 percent. These are the organizations that have truly unlocked potential and are driving outstanding business results.

Benchmarking against your current culture will help you to build a roadmap to take your organization to the next level.

Doug Claffey is founder of Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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