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  • Georgia Henry

Measuring culture: a survey is not enough

Henry Reed, Corporate culture, business cutlure, HR strategies

Culture may be on your agenda, and with more organisations being called out for poor management of culture and having to respond to the fallout of culture risks, you may be wondering how to measure culture in your organisation.

Many organisations already conduct an annual Employee Satisfaction or Culture survey. The information is useful as a test of satisfaction at a point in time and does form part of the puzzle but it is not enough.

This extract from Gartner's CHRO Research (Q4, 2017) "Gain Actionable Culture Intelligence Through Employee-Led Diagnosis", gives further evidence that relying on a survey for information on Culture provides a limited view.

"To create a culture that performs, it’s not enough for organisations to know what culture they need—they must also clearly understand the current culture and whether it needs to change to support future growth. However, only 10% of HR leaders are confident their organisations have this knowledge.

Typical approaches to culture measurement—characterized by periodic gathering of data on culture satisfaction and HR or business leader interpretation—fail to provide organisations with the insight they need because of three limitations:

1. Insufficient Data — A narrow focus on satisfaction with the culture fails to capture important details of what the culture actually looks like.

2. Outdated Data — Eighty-five percent of organisations assess culture annually or less frequently, leaving many heads of HR with out-of-date information.

3. Easy-to-Misinterpret Data — Mechanisms like surveys leave little room for context, nuance, or clarification,so leaders who lack insight on lower levels or who feel pressured to craft particular culture narratives can easily misinterpret results.

To address these limitations, the best organisations are shifting to employee-led culture diagnosis by monitoring how employees experience the culture and involving employees directly in interpreting culture input."

As cited by Gartner, an employee-led culture diagnosis is much more accurate, but it also doesn't take in the perspectives of other who influence or are influenced by an organisations culture.

At HENRY REED our approach has been more holistic, evidence based and validated, an approach that is valued by our clients.

Our Culture Audits include:

  • A review of key culture elements - purpose, vision and values.

  • Analysis of Business Metrics that are culture risk indicators

  • Surveys of Board, Leaders and Employees

  • Employee Focus Groups

  • Interviews with Board, CEO and Leaders

  • Complaints review (internal and external)

  • Risk review

  • Governance review

  • Culture alignment with strategy

  • Culture reinforcement in systems and processes

  • Culture risk assessment

  • Comprehensive report and recommendations

The data gathered from this comprehensive assessment is compiled in a report format with clear and actionable recommendations for making culture improvements. These vary from company to company as every culture (desired or current) is unique and must be curated to deliver the specific competitive advantage required for the business and to minimise the specific risks associated with poor culture.

Before embarking on culture change, a Culture Audit is an essential step to ensure you have the right culture data and evidence to make decisions that will provide the greatest return on investment and impact your success and sustainability.

To find out more about HENRY REED's proprietary Culture Audit, contact Georgia Henry on 1300 266 995, or email


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