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Metrics for Measuring Culture: Can It Be Done?

Company culture is what makes a workplace either a successful hub or a soul-crushing vortex. To measure it feels like using a sieve to catch smoke, but we all know it’s important. So, can we really use cold, hard data to look closely at something that seems so subjective as culture?

The answer, like a perfectly balanced office culture, is nuanced. While there’s no single KPI to definitively declare your culture a rockstar or a dud, there are ways to gather intel that paint a pretty vivid picture, according to David Bizer, Director of KeySearch.

david bizer at how to web conference 2023

As a talent, recruitment, and team culture expert, David has collaborated with 100s of emerging startups throughout Europe to scale their human capital since he began this journey in 2010. We had the pleasure to witness him on stage at How to Web Conference 2023 and discover key insights on not only scaling culture but also measuring it. Here are some takeaways to include in your company culture mindset:

Employee Engagement: The Canary in the Coal Mine

Think of employee engagement as your canary in the culture coal mine.  High engagement  (think enthusiastic participation, not just showing up for the paycheck) suggests a healthy environment.  

While surveys are a valuable tool, it’s important to go beyond surface-level questions.  Look for engagement metrics that go beyond self-reported data.  Consider tracking things like participation in internal training programs,  utilization of employee resource groups,  and attendance at voluntary company events. These can reveal a more nuanced picture of how invested employees are in the company culture.

Retention Rates: When They Stay, They Love It (Probably)

A revolving door of employees isn’t a good look. High turnover can signal a toxic brew of factors, including a poor cultural fit.  While turnover can have external causes too, tracking it over time can serve as a cultural barometer.

High turnover is a red flag, but it’s crucial to dig beneath the surface when analyzing retention data.   Segment turnover by department, demographics, or tenure to uncover potential pockets of cultural disconnect.    For example, is high turnover concentrated among new hires, suggesting onboarding issues?  Or are mid-level managers leaving at a disproportionate rate, hinting at leadership challenges?

The Bottom Line: It’s Not Just About the Bottom Line

Customer satisfaction surveys can be a treasure trove when viewed through a cultural lens.  Look for correlations between specific cultural values and customer feedback. For instance, if your company prioritizes innovation,  do customer comments reflect a sense of being on the cutting edge?

The Limits of the Spreadsheet: Capturing the Qualitative

While exit interviews offer valuable insights, consider supplementing them with open-ended questions that go beyond simple “yes or no” answers.  Ask departing employees to elaborate on their reasons for leaving.  What aspects of the culture did they find most challenging?  Least supportive?   This qualitative data can be more powerful than a simple statistic.

Culture is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Culture is a story – the story of your company, its people, and its values. Look for ways to uncover and amplify this narrative through anonymous employee testimonials or focus groups.

Measuring culture is an ongoing process, not a one-time thing.  Track metrics over time to see if your culture-building efforts are paying dividends.  Remember,  a positive culture is a work in progress, and the data you gather will illuminate your path forward.

Join Us for More Insights on Company Culture

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For a more in-depth exploration of culture metrics, dive into the full conference video.

Join us at the  How to Web Conference 2024 to discover fresh perspectives on building thriving workplace cultures. We can make company culture more than just a buzzword –  join the movement: https://www.howtoweb.co/tickets/

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