Five Reasons to Measure Company Culture

By Nicole Bendaly and Marty Parker

A robust body of research has clearly established that how you do things drives outcomes. The pandemic coupled with the transition to a younger workforce that is focused on connecting their personal meaning and purpose to their work has accelerated a realization that was already taking hold: Prioritizing culture is good business.

PwC’s 2021 Global Corporate Culture study reveals that 66% of C-suite executives and board members now believe that culture is more important to performance than an organization’s strategy and operating model. We know through our own experience with Waterstone Human Capital’s Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures awards program that organizations that put culture at the centre of their business strategy, measure corporate culture, and take the time to participate in organizational culture assessments benefit from improved employee engagement, increased retention, and better performance.

The reality is whether you are purposeful about it or not, you have an organizational culture. If you do not define and set the course for culture, it will define itself. The only way to ensure you are creating and living the culture you want to embody is to measure it.

What it takes to measure culture

While many organizations have tools (such as surveys) in place to measure employee engagement, they represent just one aspect of measuring culture. Through our own research of best-in-class organizations, Waterstone Human Capital has identified 10 drivers of winning cultures and we use these behaviours to measure organizational culture. These drivers are:

  • Ownership/Accountability
  • Collaboration/Teamwork
  • Customer Focus
  • Competitiveness
  • Innovation/ Agility
  • Growth
  • Work Environment
  • Clarity of Leadership Communication/Organizational Purpose
  • People Focus
  • CSR/Environmental Sustainability

Five reasons every organization needs to measure culture

1.   To establish a clear understanding of the current state of the culture

Culture is the way an organization does things. It’s how people show up; the behaviours they demonstrate.  Culture is going to be unique to each organization – that’s why it’s so powerful. It’s also why it’s critical to measure culture and understand the actual lived experience of the culture from everybody’s perspective. Unless and until you have an accurate, holistic understanding of the state of your culture, you won’t know what the strengths or the risks of your culture are, whether or not your culture will be able to get you to where you want to go, and what your people need to bring their best selves to work.

2.   To engage your people in culture

Measuring culture is an important opportunity to let your people know that it’s a priority, that you want their honest perspective on the state of the culture, that you are committed to building and strengthening culture, and that their voice matters. It is also a way to communicate to leaders and team members the specific behaviours and practices that drive performance in your organization.

3.   To align culture to strategy

Measuring culture ensures the business is moving in the right direction. It’s what will let you know whether or not your people have what they need to execute the strategy and how the culture needs to shift to meet strategic objectives. There is no such thing as the status quo. If growth isn’t happening, deterioration is. Regularly assessing culture both quantitatively and qualitatively will ensure culture and strategy are aligned and that you are shaping the path you want to be on – and staying the course.

4.   To attract and retain talent

The great resignation upped the competition for talent at a time when organizations were already struggling to adapt to a different set of expectations from younger workers. Millennials and Gen Z are used to being asked for their input and how they are feeling. It’s how they were raised. They are also acutely focused on purpose and meaning and how they personally and their organizations are impacting the world. Measuring culture is critical to providing the kind of work experience today’s workforce wants.

5.   To be able to adapt quickly

We are more connected than we’ve ever been, and the world is moving faster than it ever has. At the same time, culture is harder to see because of the hybrid work environment. Measuring culture is important to maintain the health of the organization so you can adjust to each new challenge and opportunity.

Taking the first step in measuring culture

Companies that are excited to take the first step and start measuring company culture don’t always know where to begin. For some, it involves adjusting existing employee surveys; for others it means starting from scratch. Either way, Waterstone Human Capital can help. Waterstone ENGAGE™ is an annual employee survey program that will equip you with actionable data about your corporate culture, employee engagement and the level of trust in your organization. For more information, contact our team. You may also fill out the form on our contact page.