How to measure workplace culture, and why you should!

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Anyone who employs people has workplace culture, and it’s important to understand that culture, how it impacts productivity and the business overall.

Customers, regulators and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding transparency from businesses. So the ability to measure and demonstrate good culture in a credible way is going to be crucial to delivering that transparency going forward.

The Workability Index (TWI) is the first business tool of its kind in the world – creating measurable data for workplace culture to drive performance, nurture organisational culture, and give evidence to stakeholders.

Aintree Group was one of many different organisations, from ASX listed businesses to not-for-profits, who tested The Workability Index in it’s pilot stage last year. Throughout this process we also learned about the background of The Workability Index, why it started, and how it can add value. 

“Given the criticality of culture, and the current strong narrative about why culture is important, this is a chance for organisations to evidence it and continue to improve.”

How did TWI come about?

In Sunil’s previous role working for a listed investment company, he was responsible for investing capital into smaller businesses and sitting on their boards to help improve their operations. He spent a lot of time looking at the culture of these organisations, thinking about preventative steps that could encourage good behaviours, and avoid some downsides of poor culture, such as workers compensation claims. 

“The idea for The Workibility Index was deeply connected to my previous role. The way we were measuring and reporting culture didn’t seem to fit the level of demand that exists in the marketplace.”

So, in order to fill that gap, Sunil developed and launched The Workability Index with Co-Founder and People & Culture Specialist Kate Stone. 

How do you measure culture?

TWI sends your employees an anonymous survey to complete, with positively-framed questions that team members respond to on the basis of how much they agree. 

The survey looks across ten dimensions that influence culture, including risk culture, level of trust, leadership, inclusion, and identifying to what extent the future changes and future strategies for the organisation are impact the culture today.

From the responses, TWI generates a score out of 1000, along with tailored feedback based on the strengths and weaknesses identified in the survey. This is the metric that organisations can use to quantify their culture and build and set goals accordingly. TWI places scores on a leaderboard, giving organisations the opportunity to benchmark themselves, providing incentive for growth and normalising transparency in business.

What is the value of quantifying workplace culture?

It gives a much richer data set internally for organisations to understand where their culture is, and then improve the way they develop and nurture culture to try and drive performance.

Once you identify culture in a measurable way, you start to shift the thinking of the organisation. Eventually working towards productive and positive culture becomes a core part of the operation. 

But also there is a significant element of being able to share that data, have that transparency to external stakeholders. 

“Transparency is a word we use a lot. Regulators ask for it, customers are asking for it, and increasingly their behaviours are driven by the extent that they’re getting that transparency and the level of trust.”

It’s also important it’s an evidentiary based metric, which is scored (and ranked) with other businesses using the same process. It’s not something created by the marketing or PR team designed to give good news regardless of the reality of the internal culture. There is much stronger credibility and consistency. 

What kind of business should be monitoring their culture?

Any organisation that employs people ultimately has an operating culture. And culture should be monitored along with all other elements contributing to the business.

TWI have run tested their process with organisations at all different levels – from ASX-listed, to not-for-profits to SMEs (including Aintree Group). It’s not sector-specific, or for organisations of a particular size or geographic location. But, depending on the structure of your business you may focus on a one or two benefits in particular. 

Larger organisations have identified TWI as a way they can talk to auditors, regulators, investors, shareholders and customers with a greater level of credibility and transparency.

SMEs see it as an important point of differentiation within the marketplace. It provides more depth than just “here is our proposition, here’s our price, here’s our testimonials”.

For financial and professional service businesses, the future is in advisory services. Those services are generally provided by people, and therefore the culture through which those people operate is extremely important.

How can I learn more?

You can learn more about The Workability Index on their website