Every company is defined by its culture. In some organizations, it’s almost tangible—and yet the concept of company culture is hard to put into words.
Think of company culture—also known as workplace culture or corporate culture—as the values, beliefs, practices, experiences, and stories shared by a company’s employees. Essentially, it’s the way a business does business.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that company culture affects nearly all aspects of an organization, from employee engagement and sales to workplace safety and overall business success. Put effort into defining and nurturing your company culture, or your workforce will do it for you—with mixed results.
But before you can make strategic changes to your workplace culture, you need to measure it. Let’s look at why employee surveys are a useful tool to do so, plus nine questions to ask your employees to understand the culture that drives your organization.
Why is it important to measure company culture?
Most of the assumptions leadership teams make about their corporate culture aren’t very accurate. A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey revealed that nearly three-fourths of business executives (72%) believed their company culture improved since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, only 21% of HR professionals and 14% of working Americans agreed with the sentiment.
And because company culture affects so many aspects of a business, basing your company culture initiatives on wrong assumptions can have disastrous consequences for your organization.
Instead, base your strategies on the quantitative and qualitative data you gather from your employees. Tools like workplace surveys allow business leaders to measure an organization’s culture by gauging employee sentiments on topics like company values, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and more. Your employees’ responses can then be compared with your leadership team’s vision of the company to see what initiatives are doing well and what needs more work.
9 important company culture questions to ask your employees
As you read through the questions below, you may notice they address company culture in broad strokes.
Think of them as a pulse check—a quick way to understand what your employees think about the matter at hand. Use the information you gather as a guide to home in on the areas of your organization that need more attention.
1. Do you feel that the company’s core values accurately represent the day-to-day values and culture of the organization?
Most HR professionals will agree that company values play a large role in shaping company culture. This is why it’s important to regularly assess whether your company values and your employees’ perception of those values align. For example, if your company advocates professional development and career development, do you regularly offer these opportunities to your workforce? And if so, do your employees know about them and take advantage of them?
You can reiterate value statements to your team and invest in expensive company culture initiatives all you want. But if your core values don’t reflect your employees’ actual day-to-day experience, they won’t become ingrained in your company culture.
2. Do you find your work engaging and meaningful?
Your employees’ satisfaction with their work influences their engagement levels—yet another driver of organizational culture. Much of this job satisfaction comes from whether they view their work as engaging, meaningful, and useful to the company at large.
Workers who are unable to connect the impact of their daily responsibilities with the company’s overarching goals become unmotivated, dissatisfied with their work, and disconnected from their colleagues. Before you know it, these feelings and behaviors can be passed along to other team members and impact your company culture, morale, and retention rate.
3. How would you describe the company’s leadership and management style?
Managers have an outsized impact on an employee’s experience at an organization, as they’re a worker’s primary point of contact with the company (and, as a result, its culture).
However, one report revealed that only about a third of employees are highly confident in their managers’ leadership abilities—compared to almost two-thirds of managers who felt the same way about themselves. At the same time, other research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that 25% of workers don’t trust their employers.
So, you’ll want to ask this question to gauge your employees’ perception of your company’s leaders and managers—and to determine if any misalignments of perceived and actual company culture are because of your higher-ups. For instance, perhaps your company claims to support a healthy work-life balance for employees, but several managers demand that their teams be available after work hours.
If your workers do have any issues with your leadership and management teams, this question allows them to voice their concerns anonymously.
4. How effective are the company’s internal communications?
Your company’s internal communications don’t just impact how well employees are able to do their job. They also help your employee feel connected with their teammates, the company at large, and the organization’s goals. After all, many employees enjoy their job in part because they get to work alongside their colleagues and supervisors.
Asking this question in your employee surveys can help you determine whether your internal communications are a help or a hindrance to your workforce, so you can make changes if needed.
Say your company tends to hold impromptu team meetings, but you receive feedback that this type of communication conflicts with many employees’ work styles. You might choose another communication method that allows your team to dive into their work without distractions.
5. Do you feel respected and appreciated by your team?
Relationships are at the heart of a company’s culture. So, in your workplace surveys, you’ll also want to assess the quality of the relationships between your employees.
People who respect and value each other tend to work well together, perform better as a team, and contribute to a positive work environment. The presence of respect and appreciation on a team also contributes to greater camaraderie among its members. This helps ensure that, when conflicts do arise, they’re more likely to be resolved amicably.
On the other hand, employees who don’t feel appreciated or respected by their colleagues become poor performers, lose morale, and harbor resentment towards other employees—all issues you don’t want to see in the workplace.
6. Do you think the company prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace?
Celebrating employee diversity creates space for your workers to bring their full selves to work each day. Rather than focusing their efforts on assimilating with the group, employees who work at diverse organizations can dedicate their time and energy to doing their best work.
Multiple reports show that company support for diversity in the workplace brings more tangible business benefits as well. Diverse workforces—and the different mindsets, ideas, and backgrounds they bring together—create more opportunities for breakthroughs and innovative thinking. Perhaps this is why McKinsey & Company found that diverse teams perform better than their less diverse counterparts.
Meanwhile, Glassdoor discovered that nearly 37% of employees wouldn’t apply for a new job at companies that displayed discrepancies in employee satisfaction ratings among different ethnic and racial groups.
7. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your well-being at work?
Employee well-being is an important metric for businesses to measure. Gallup found that teams that feel their employer cares about their well-being achieve higher marks in the following areas:
- Customer engagement
- Safety incidents
By asking this question, you learn how much support your company provides for your employees’ overall well-being. It also shines a light on whether your workers are truly happy with their work environment—and whether issues like burnout, micromanagement, and work overload may be present.
A healthy work-life balance is often the result of both supportive managers and a positive work culture. In contrast, overbearing supervisors or a nonstop-work culture may result in a workforce that is always tired, overworked, and burned out.
8. How likely are you to recommend your workplace to a friend or family member?
One survey found that nearly half of all employees globally (46%) wouldn’t recommend their employer or their profession to their children—and that another 38% wouldn’t even recommend them to their worst enemy.
Add this question to your workplace surveys to gauge how satisfied your employees are with their workplace and its culture. And because people tend to talk to others about their work experiences, the answers you get may indicate whether the stories your employees tell about your company are good or bad.
9. What aspects of the company could be improved to make it a better workplace for you?
When you want to make improvements to your company culture but don’t know where to start, sometimes the best way to get the answers you need is by asking your employees directly.
The answers you get might surprise you. Perhaps a more relaxed dress code is all it’ll take to keep your employees happy. Or they may have requests, like remote work arrangements or more informal performance reviews, that involve more time and effort from your leadership and management teams.
By giving your staff an opportunity to provide feedback, you can learn:
- What aspects of their work environment employees care about most
- What problems in the workplace are top of mind for them
- What solutions they believe would best solve their problems
Putting your employee surveys into action
It’s important to be strategic with the questions you choose for your employee surveys, as surveys with too many questions can reduce the number of responses you get.
So, choose the right questions based on the information you need, using your company culture goals as a guide. Consider the following:
- What do you hope to gain from conducting this survey at this moment in time?
- What information will you need to reach this goal?
- How will the questions you choose help you get that information?
Also, remember that workplace surveys aren’t the only method of measuring corporate culture. Use them in conjunction with other tools and workplace observations to get a holistic view of your organization. For instance, you may decide to track how many of your employees attend non-mandatory company events, or how many staff members regularly participate in employee resource groups.
With its insights and reporting feature, our software doesn’t just allow you to survey employees on matters like employee benefits, management, and morale. The platform also compiles the data into beautiful and easy-to-understand reports so you can identify workplace trends, address employee concerns, and support your workforce as it grows and changes.
To learn more about Gusto’s employee pulse surveys and whether they’re a fit for your business, get in touch with our team today.