Current State

In the current global workplace, many organizations struggle with a large remote workforce that isn’t receiving the benefit of their long-standing culture — or are they? Cultural assimilation previously occurred when certain behaviors that were tied to the culture and values were exhibited and repeated in the office or among peers. But now that there are so many WFH and other types of non-office workers, those old standards may need to be re-evaluated. 

What Metrics Yo You Use to Measure Culture? 

Complications

The problem here is something that nearly every organization is going through: How do we measure something as ephemeral as culture, especially without being able to rely on observable data? In addition, many organizations struggle with return-to-work plans and contingencies for further disruptions and have not been able to devote resources to cultural measurement or change. 

Consequences

There are almost no limits to the positive effects a strong culture can have on a business. Anything from attracting and retaining talent to increasing productivity to fostering collaboration to improving leadership development — it’s all in there. However, the opposite is also true; a negative culture can start a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself through employee contact, so it is important to monitor and maintain the culture that your organization desires. 

Critical Questions

For organizations seeking to determine the metrics they should use to measure culture and how to affect cultural change, they must first decide what their specific business needs and goals are. Key questions organizations should address include: 

  • Who is accountable for overseeing the organizational culture and leading the way for cultural change?
  • How will you measure the impact of cultural change if the workplace changes (e.g., more people working from home than ever before)? 
  • What avenues for expressing culture currently exist in your organization? 
  • What tools and technologies are in place to support cultural measurement and change? 
  • What will be the ultimate business impact of measuring or changing organizational culture? 

Brandon Hall Group POV

Measure Organizational Culture Based on Organizational Goals 

There is no one “right” approach to using metrics to measure culture. The metrics measured must reflect the current state and the end goal, with the end goal as a specific business objective. There is, however, an incorrect approach — which is to use the metrics themselves as a goal, rather than achieving concrete business results. 

Close the Feedback Loop on Cultural Measurement 

The highest-performing organizations get constant feedback on whichever metrics are chosen, reviewed weekly (at a minimum) to ensure the metrics are not being affected by external factors (e.g., vaccine rollouts, weather, back to school) and are relevant to the change you want to see, measured by a more objective set of metrics such as revenue or market share.

The Best Cultural Interventions are the Earliest 

When it comes to affecting real change, again there are several to success, but follow-up conversations with high-performing companies reveal that early interventions (branding, recruitment marketing and onboarding) are key areas for communicating your culture and are good inflection points for affecting cultural changes, as needed. 

When done early and correctly, these interventions help create connections between employees, managers, leaders and the local community which, according to Brandon Hall Group research, has the greatest impact in building communities within organizations, although shockingly few companies (25%) can get this done — which means that the ones who do will be far ahead of their competitors. 

Avoid Tying Cultural Metrics to Individual Rewards 

As with culture metrics, there are false pathways to avoid. Do not tie rewards to cultural adoption — this will only result in a superficial set of learned behaviors that will go away the moment the reward is removed or shifts. This is especially important if your organization uses observable behaviors as its main way of measuring cultural adoption, as Brandon Hall Group research (noted above) has shown that most companies do. 


About

Brandon Hall Group Strategy Briefs answer the critical questions learning, talent, HR and business leaders must address to manage their human capital. To tackle these critical questions in more detail, we built tools, frameworks, research summaries and business builders based on up-to-date research and case studies for you to implement best and next Human Capital Management (HCM) practices. To gain access to these valuable resources, contact success@brandonhall.com.

Leading minds in HCM choose Brandon Hall Group to help them build future-proof employee-development plans for the new era. For more than 27 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world, influencing the development of over 10,000,000 associates and executives.

Cliff Stevenson

Cliff Stevenson is Principal Analyst, Workforce Management Practice, for Brandon Hall Group. He came to Brandon Hall Group in 2015 from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) where he was a senior analyst since 2012. Cliff's experience as human capital research analyst has focused on data and analytics, performance management, recruitment, acquisition, retention, and attrition.