Keeping a pulse on your organization’s health is vital, yet knowing how to assess workplace culture can be challenging. A variety of metrics should be considered to determine the holistic health of the culture and identify opportunities for improvement. It’s possible for an organization to do well in one area (e.g., diversity and inclusion) while underperforming in another (e.g., employee well-being), which is why taking a comprehensive view is so important.
The good news is that organizations often already have a significant amount of internal data to tap into that can provide an insightful look at the culture. Here is how to assess workplace culture using four important organizational data points. Together, these measures can tell you a lot about the current state of your culture.
1. Productivity metrics
Operations and finance departments are typically responsible for tracking productivity, output and overtime metrics. Partner with these internal teams/departments to understand how they track productivity, set benchmarks and regularly evaluate the metrics. Successful organizations should review these metrics monthly during a recurring meeting (e.g., executive leadership team meeting).
Productivity and output can be indicators of employee engagement. Strong productivity can be a sign of energized, focused and engaged employees, while high overtime usage may signal overworked, potentially burned out, and often disengaged or even hostile employees. Overall, misaligned productivity metrics can be an indicator of an unhealthy workplace culture.
Regularly evaluating these data points will help you spot downward trends before the effect becomes damaging to your organization. They also help you make the case to executive leadership on why it’s essential to invest in a modern workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being. When organizations nurture employee well-being, employees are more productive (which often correlates positively to profitability). When organizations don’t nurture employee well-being, it can lead to low performance, burn-out and trouble with high employee turnover.
2. PTO and sick time utilization
PTO and sick time utilization are additional indicators of a healthy workplace culture. Significant sick time and absenteeism can be a sign that employees are burnt out. Burn-out has become such a significant workplace problem that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently officially recognized burn-out as a mental health syndrome “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Burn-out can lead to job place hostility or cynicism, reduced professional performance and a 30% higher likelihood to leave jobs. A strong workplace culture can help address and solve this challenge.
Employee PTO usage can indicate whether employees feel supported to take time off from their jobs. Low PTO usage could signal a workload problem or cultural pressure (real or perceived) not to take time off from work. Shaping a workplace culture that encourages employees to speak up when they have too much on their plate, and empowers employees to take time off is foundational to a strong, engaged team for the long-term. Some organizations have begun requiring employees to take a minimum amount of time off each year because they understand it increases engagement and creativity while also alleviating burn-out.
3. Retention and recruitment metrics
Another way organizations can assess workplace culture health is by looking at how long employees stay with the company and the amount of time it takes to fill open roles. Compare retention and recruitment metrics to industry targets, like the average employee tenure you’re aiming for or the targeted number of days it takes from job posting to a new hire’s first day on the job.
If average tenure decreases, turnover increases or you’re missing your hiring targets, it may be a sign that the organization isn’t providing a workplace culture that engages or develops its employees. If it’s taking a long time to fill roles, this could be a sign that the organization doesn’t have an attractive workplace culture or its brand reputation is suffering.
Look at retention and recruitment metrics at least twice a year or every quarter. Regularly evaluating these metrics will help you identify trends, spot issues and create initiatives to counteract problems and improve workplace culture.
4. Reputation in the marketplace
Keeping tabs on what employees say online about your organization is a powerful gauge of workplace culture. Annually, organizations should evaluate what people say externally about the organization as a place to work. This evaluation includes looking at employer review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, and also being mindful of the organization’s success rate for winning awards and being named to top places to work rankings.
Not only does reputation in the marketplace matter for recruitment efforts, but it can also inform the prioritization of strategic workplace culture initiatives.
Consider multiple data points to assess your organization’s workplace culture effectively. Ideally, organizations should consistently seek employee input through feedback surveys (e.g., eNPS, pulse surveys, employee engagement surveys), but there is also an abundance of data already available to give you a good sense for the health of your workplace culture.
As you become familiar with these data points, you will learn to read the numbers more effectively. For example, if the organization has low productivity but high sick time, it could be a sign they aren’t equipping employees with the information and tools they need to complete their jobs efficiently. The better you learn to read the numbers, the more effective you will be at assessing workplace culture and responding to its trends.
About Ayme Zemke, SVP, Client Services
Ayme Zemke leads Beehive Client Service. She has nearly twenty-four years of strategic communication experience at Twin Cities PR agencies. Ayme has led many client organizations through culture transformations with an employee-focused strategy that empowers growth from the inside out. She has the unique gift of seeing and understanding people’s needs and making meaningful connections that build trust. But that’s just part of what makes her a master of client service. Ayme’s clients and teams quickly learn that her insights get to the heart of what really matters to move businesses forward with purpose.