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Reviewing company culture with employee engagement assessments

How would you describe your company culture?

For some, the answer may come instantly, perhaps because cultural adjectives are plastered across the organisation’s walls, website, software and hardware. For others, the answer may require more effort, a reflection of a more implicit or undefined culture. Still, there are those who are aware of what is said to be their company culture, but the description doesn’t align with reality.

Culture is said to be the “soul of a company” and reflects what is at the core of an organisation. What is at the core should be anything but ignored. To develop a healthy and strong company culture that delivers positive organisational outcomes requires focus and strategy. One way to do this is by assessing company culture.

This blog provides insights into company culture – what it is, how to assess it, the benefits of assessing culture and Hall Advisory’s assessment methodology.

What is company culture?

Company culture refers to the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that guide and influence how an organisation’s employees and management interact. It is found in the unspoken behaviours, mindsets, and social patterns within an organisation. The culture of an organisation may be intentionally cultivated or may be the culmination of actions and decisions made over time. From team-based to highly competitive, or from hierarchical to an egalitarian culture, culture looks different in any organisation.

A subset of company culture is risk culture, as covered in the blog ‘Assessing risk culture for better organisational outcomes’. Risk culture is the foundation that guides the behaviours of any organisation. It creates the benchmark for what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. It can also be seen as part of an organisation’s DNA.

Like risk culture, overall company culture starts with leadership and tends to cascade down through all levels of the organisation. Leaders shape company culture both consciously and subconsciously through their words, behaviours and actions. However, multiple subcultures may also exist within an organisation, varying from team to team. Again, these subcultures are influenced by the leaders of such teams.

Company culture can either be beneficial or detrimental to an organisation’s performance and reputation. A strong, healthy culture drives positive organisational outcomes. It is a top priority for prospective employees when applying for a job and a key consideration for potential clients and partners of the organisation. Despite its powerful influence over the future prospects of an organisation, company culture is often deferred to the Human Resources department rather than being owned by all within the organisation.

It is crucial that company culture is recognised as important throughout an organisation and is intentionally monitored and managed through periodic assessments.

Assessing company culture

There are a variety of models for assessing company culture, including:

  • A values assessment – helps organisations determine whether behaviour is aligned with company values

  • Review of cross-functional metrics – tracking metrics such as employee recruitment and retention, absenteeism, productivity to identify trends and how this may impact the company’s culture

  • Review of external sources – monitoring mentions of the organisation online and in the media, including employee review websites, to understand overall sentiments in relation to the company’s culture

  • Employee engagement surveys – gather feedback and comments from employees at all levels of the organisation through periodic surveys. This is one of the most effective ways to assess company culture and gives insight into employee engagement levels and an understanding of where it excels and areas that need to be addressed to improve engagement over time.

Undertaking the different forms of assessment provides insights to help manage and shape company culture in a way that aligns with the organisation’s objectives and strategy.

Benefits of assessing company culture

Though formal assessments of company culture are not required from a compliance perspective, it’s in an organisation’s best interests to conduct periodic assessments for several reasons:

  • Helps leaders understand how the company’s culture is linked to outcomes

  • To identify implicit yet toxic aspects of company culture that go unnoticed or unaddressed day-to-day

  • Informs any needed change to leadership and organisational structures, systems and practices

  • Positions leaders to actively manage company culture and strategically build a positive reputation for the organisation, leading to:

o Attracting potential clients and business partners

o Attracting and retaining employees. Organisations that actively manage their culture (mission-driven) have 40% higher employee retention than organisations that don’t. Higher employee retention rates also reduce the associated costs of training new hires.

o Further, the more employees believe their values are aligned with a company’s culture, the more engaged they are. This leads to higher productivity levels, resulting in better organisational outcomes.

Hall Advisory’s assessment methodology

To assist clients with monitoring and managing their company culture effectively, Hall Advisory conducts independent annual organisation-wide employee engagement surveys with a comprehensive set of multiple choice and open-ended questions.

The survey gives an organisation insight into employee engagement levels and an understanding of where it excels and areas that need to be addressed to improve engagement over time. It is distributed to all people in the organisation, except new hires within their first 30 days of employment.

Through the survey, company culture is considered based on a range of questions across the following topics:

  • Engagement

  • Company confidence

  • Leadership

  • Manager-employee relationship

  • Alignment

  • Enablement

  • Collaboration and accountability

  • Development and career

  • Job fit and compensation

  • Recognition and feedback

Clients are given the option to tailor the questions or the set of questions to align with the specific client objectives for conducting the survey.

Results reveal the employee engagement rate, compared against an industry benchmark and against previous years’ results. Based on the aggregated responses per question, Hall Advisory provides the findings within a report, disclosing the strengths and improvement opportunities, specific results against each question at the holistic and cohort levels, and how these results indicate the company culture and sub-cultures that may exist.

These insights can be used by organisations to inform future planning, strategising and activities in relation to shaping and improving company culture.

How we can help

As mentioned, Hall Advisory offers annual organisation-wide independent employee engagement surveys to help assess your company culture. This includes:

  • Issuing an employee engagement survey across all levels of the organisation

  • Assessment of collated results to identify strengths and improvement areas in respect of engagement levels

  • Recommendations to improve employee engagement, focusing on areas for improvement and considering indicators of overall company culture

  • In addition to the above, Hall Advisory provides the following related services:

  • Board performance assessments – assessing the effectiveness and performance of a board to identify strengths and areas for improvement

  • Risk culture assessments – review of existing frameworks, surveys, and interviews to assess risk culture across all levels of the organisation, review of results to identify strengths and weaknesses, and recommendations to improve risk culture

  • Organisation-wide independent assessments of governance, accountability, and culture standards

  • Independent workplace investigations to assist organisations with dealing with allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour.

Contact us for a confidential, no-obligation conversation about how we can support you and tailor our assessment process to suit your needs.


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