Are your Employees Ready to Jump Out of the Tank?
Updated: Sep 6
There is a lot of talk about organizational culture. Simply put, organizational culture is how the combination of a company’s beliefs, values, attitudes and practices influence the behavior of people in organizations.
Why is it important?
Think about the orthodontist’s fish tank in the movie, ‘Finding Nemo’. In this movie, Nemo, a clown fish, finds himself snatched from the wild and plopped into a fish tank with other exotic saltwater animals. While they find camaraderie, their needs are not met in any meaningful way. In an attempt to flee this toxic environment, the marine characters band together and revolt, eventually making their way back to where they belong - the open ocean.
People are not so different from these characters. When trapped in business cultures that are stifling or where they feel ignored, employees will stop functioning effectively and jump out of the tank to look for other opportunities.
That is why it is important to assess your business culture from time to time. It can let you know where you stand today and shed light on actions you can take to nurture a positive work environment where both the company and employees thrive.
Here are steps that will help you assess the environment you are creating for your organization.
Talk to your Employees
Checking in with employees is an essential piece of monitoring the pulse of your company culture. In order to get a good read, you need to provide varied and regular opportunities for employees to share their views. It is essential to create a safe environment where employees do not fear any type of reprisal for sharing their opinion. By doing this you assure that the information gathered has validity. In addition, it is essential that the feedback is used in a meaningful way so that employees feel that their voices have been heard.
Here are some ways to gather employee feedback throughout the year:
Employee surveys that assess employee satisfaction and well-being. These surveys should offer the option to be anonymous.
Town hall meetings to allow face to face meetings with leadership.
Regular meetings with supervisors that include opportunities for employees to share their thoughts and concerns.
Human resource department initiatives that provide ways for employees to provide feedback.
Look at Your Data
Every department from production to human resources is gathering information that can help you evaluate your culture. Periodically reviewing this data and analyzing patterns can highlight the strengths and challenges of your company culture. Take some time to think about the type of data that is created by your company and how it can help in the evaluation of culture.
Here are some examples of metrics you can use to analyze your culture:
Employee productivity metrics:
Sick time usage
Employee satisfaction metrics:
Customer service metrics:
Rate of returning customers
Listen to What People Say
Feedback from outside your organization is essential to understanding your culture. While you will get some of that by looking at customer service data, to truly understand how your company is functioning you need to see how it is perceived by all those with whom you interact.
Here are some ways to see what the people are saying about your business:
Explore external review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Since these sites are anonymous, employees can feel more comfortable being honest. It also can give you an idea of what may be impacting recruitment.
Check out your competitors. Using these same sites, explore what people are saying about other companies in your industry. This can reinforce your belief in your business practices as well as give you ideas on how to change.
Talk to your vendors. The people who supply your company provide an additional perspective on company operation. Make it part of your routine to periodically check in with them. This can be through a short survey as well as face to face communication.
Regularly assessing your culture is analogous to building an effective fish tank environment. For aquariums, the balance in question is the proper proportions of light, carbon dioxide, and nutrients. In companies it is understanding how managing culture can maximize employee satisfaction and company profits.
Spending some time regularly checking in on culture can prevent your employees from conspiring to block a pipe to create a dirty tank resulting in someone having to go down a drain to escape (If you don’t get the reference, check out the movie.😉🐠🐠).