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What Is a Culture Audit?
A culture audit is like a quick picture capturing the culture of the organization from the perspective of the employees. It evaluates everything from leadership styles, company vision, and mission, procedures and policies, working environment, recognition programs, to anything that touches the company’s operational side.
Why You Should Audit your Organization’s Culture
Auditing a company’s culture can be time-consuming and challenging, but there are several reasons why an audit may be appropriate for an organization:
- Evaluate workplace. If your organization lacks a positive company work environment, this is an important consideration for a culture audit. This audit focuses not only on leadership but on the employees and their feelings about working for the company as well, whether they work remotely or in the office.
- Evaluate goals. As an organization, if your goals are not translating down to your employees, they will not see the big picture of their day to day work, which will negatively impact the work culture.
- Evaluate effectiveness. If a company is implementing programs to help “drive company culture,” a culture audit can help evaluate if these programs are effective. It will provide clarity on the pulse of the company as a whole.
- Evaluate progress. An organization always develops, either positively or negatively. Evaluating this progress with a culture audit can help you change the direction of your company, or keep implementing positive ways to continue on the trajectory of success.
A culture audit helps evaluate quintessential aspects of the organization to ensure a positive culture for its employees. In today’s culture, it is easier than ever for a candidate to view the culture of your company from the outside looking in with social media and word of mouth. It’s your job to make sure that the cultural view from the inside out is something that candidates will want to be a part of.
What Should a Culture Audit Include?
Every culture audit should have three main components to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the company culture.
A culture audit first reviews policies and procedures that set the tone for the organization. How employees communicate with each other is a direct reflection of company culture, so this is another important consideration. This assessment should also examine outside perspectives through social media, marketing, media, etc.
In phase two, you will want to analyze all the information you have gathered. It’s quite possibly the most difficult stage of any audit as you have to examine vast amounts of data and balance it out.. Evaluate if the portrayal of the culture is the same across all incoming data. Look at your company-specific voice, your employee voice, and your external voice and ask yourself, are they all the same? Are you portraying the same positive cultural environment across all platforms? Look for specific issues and patterns such as improvement in leadership, company vision, and mission, workplace structure, etc.
Once you have all the information assessed and analyzed, you can use your culture audit to recommend an improvement for company culture.
An audit doesn’t end once you’ve assessed, analyzed, and recommended improvements. You need some support in those areas. Let’s move on to how to go about conducting a culture audit that will provide support through the assessment, analyzation and final recommendations stages for your organization.
How To Conduct a Culture Audit for Your Organization
There are a number of ways to go about conducting a culture audit for your organization. You can use one of these or a mix of a few, depending on the size of your organization. The easiest way to conduct a comprehensive audit is by using the list below and tailoring it to the specific focus and needs of your organization.
An audit can begin with cultural surveys with questions. You’re looking for questions specific to communication within the organization, vision and mission statements, problem areas, work-life balance, etc. These questions could include:
- How would you describe the workplace culture to a friend?
- What is the work environment like?
- What are our main goals?
- Is our mission statement clearly communicated?
- If you could change one operational thing about the company, what would it be and why?
- Are there any barriers that hinder your work?
- Do you feel the organization values and appreciates you?
- How are employees recognized and rewarded?
- How are customer complaints dealt with and followed up on?
These surveys should be anonymous to give employees the opportunity to answer truthfully. If they are not anonymous, you will get many answers that do not help progress in your audit. Notice how the questions should be direct and open-ended to provoke honest and creative feedback and elicit more than a “yes” or “no” response. Some of the answers to these questions may sting a little bit to your company, but that’s exactly what you are looking for. You cannot improve if you don’t know what is wrong to begin with.
Reviews from your customers, both positive and negative, provide insight into your company culture as well. For example, consistent negative reviews in a specific department could reveal particular areas needing improvement within that department. Similarly, consistent positive reviews for another location or department could prompt evaluation to discern and further implement what’s working well.
Conducting interviews with employees could be a beneficial step for your organization. While these interviews won’t be anonymous, at this stage you’re going to use the answers from your culture survey to help drive the discussion. Bring the most common answers to the questions you asked above and bring your evaluations from the customer reviews, and spark a dialogue between 10-15 employees you have randomly selected for the interviews. You want to see if you can get any more information than the answers on those surveys. You are looking to brainstorm with your employees to improve upon the culture together. These types of discussions go a long way with employees. Bring some treats and make it a relaxed environment for each employee to weigh in on the survey questions together. Giving the employees a voice and the opportunity to speak into the company culture can greatly improve their overall satisfaction.
Finally, you get to take everything you’ve learned and put it all together. At this phase, you are going to make sure you feel there is an answer to the questions asked in the survey questions and interviews and you have a clear understanding of how to improve your company culture for your employees. Here you may compile your data into a presentation to present to leadership to begin implementing necessary changes. A culture audit is useless if we don’t put the information we have learned to good use, so make sure you elevate the data accordingly for your organization.
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Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department “of one”, working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!
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