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  • Writer's pictureGeorgia Henry

The true value of a Culture Audit

Updated: Sep 14, 2023


A Culture Audit may sound daunting, clinical, and maybe a bit ominous, but when conducted with empathy by experienced professionals who guide all participants through the process, it is none of those things.

The true value of a Culture Audit is that it is often the first step in enabling employees to heal and move forward from trauma, negative experiences or challenging situations occurring in the workplace. It can also bring to light achievements to be celebrated and behaviours to be rewarded. By conducting an external review of culture, you are providing a safe place for employees, your board, and other stakeholders to share their experiences and to express emotions that may remain hidden during times of challenge or even business as usual. You may believe that your organisation does not need external support to understand current culture, and this may be true, particularly if you are a small organisation, have an environment of transparency and trust, you know that each employee is able to be their true selves at work, and feels safe to raise issues in every situation. For many organisations, this is not the case and while overall a positive culture may exist, there may also be pockets of toxic culture that present great risk to your organisation and your people. I'd like you to think about your own experiences during your career; you may recall a time when you worked for an organisation where

  • inappropriate behaviours were not addressed

  • some people were favoured over others

  • you were not encouraged to speak up or share ideas

  • you were pitted against your colleagues

  • you were bullied, harassed, or discriminated against

  • leaders did not role model the values or uphold standards consistently

  • no one cared about others

  • or there could be many other examples indicating poor culture

In that environment, were you empowered to raise issues? Did you feel confident that positive change would take place? Did you feel safe?

An independent Culture Audit provides a safe place for raising issues and for employees to be heard without judgement or bias. HENRY REED have been conducting Culture Audits for more than 6 years and have supported organisations from very diverse sectors through this process. Our approach is to engage with as many people as possible through surveys, focus groups and interviews. Through document reviews we seek to understand the organisation structure, governance, strategy and risk frameworks to identify inconsistencies and understand how the organisation upholds behavioural expectations. By examining the impact of culture using business metrics and data we assess the risks of current culture and the opportunities for creating measurable improvements for the organisation and positive impacts for people. Organisations don't set out to create a culture that negatively impacts people or their business. Culture evolves over time and, if it is created by default rather than by design, it can easily be diluted through mergers and acquisitions, when leaders change, when there is a lack of focus or strategic direction, when expectations for behaviours are not clear or upheld, when communication is ineffective or when there is a triggering event or 'outbreak' issue. Whether it is called an Audit, an Assessment, a Review, or something else, it is all about people, behaviours, emotions, and those things within the business that are impacting these. Just as you'd expect from a financial or safety audit, the output is an evidence based report identifying the current state and providing recommendations based on opportunities for improvement. Is it time your organisation understood the impact of current culture? I invite you to have a confidential discussion with me or visit our website: www.henryreed.com.au for more information.

Georgia Henry Director 0414808060

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