Expert Commentary

A Culture Audit Can Help Effect Organizational Change

As a human resources (HR) manager, you may become frustrated with your company culture or feel unsure how to effect change in your organization. Perhaps you inherited a culture when you were hired or promoted, your company has shifted dramatically during your time overseeing HR, or you have a sense that your culture is negatively impacting company performance.


Employee Hiring, Development, and Retention
September 2019

Before you can effect change, though, you need to gather information about your culture to know what is happening. A useful method to measure your culture is conducting a culture audit.

What Are the Common Triggers for Measuring Company Culture?

Every company will have a different trigger that sets in motion a measurement of the company culture. Some possibilities include the following.

  • Aligning the corporate strategy with the human capital strategy. How often you perform the audit will depend on your company's culture goals and how you measure those goals.
  • Significant shifts, events, or changes that should initiate a culture review. Examples of these could be if your company moves to a new location, is acquired or merges with another company, or hires a prominent new executive, such as a CEO.
  • A decrease in employee satisfaction and/or employee engagement. It's easy to ignore the state of the culture when sales and revenue are growing, but if you see a decline in workplace engagement, then you know that the culture needs to be addressed.

No matter the impetus, it's important to follow a process to gather valuable information that will help you take action to implement a culture change.

What Is the Best Approach To Measure Culture?

When auditing your company culture, you should focus on the following two things.

  • The overall company culture
  • The culture of each team in your organization

A tool that objectively measures culture will provide you with the information that you need about the overall culture and subcultures.

Many people think of culture as a buzzword to describe "the feel" of a workplace. That is a misconception. The culture is actually the shared attitudes, values, and beliefs of a group of people that results in a particular behavior.

You need to be able to objectively measure the shared thinking of the overall company and the subcultures that lead to behaviors. This will allow you to detect blind spots, discover areas for growth, and identify what is causing positive or negative productivity trends.

Then, to impact change, you need to use the measurable information gathered during a culture audit to make a case for changing the culture. In too many companies, the information disappears into a virtual black hole without becoming a catalyst for change.

When you have the information, tap into its full potential to transform your company culture by executing the change.

How Do You Carry Out Culture Change?

The first step to effect change is to use the measurable information you've collected on your culture to create a plan of action. Armed with this information, company culture can be influenced for existing teams as well as when hiring new employees.

1. Provide coaching or training to employees.

For example, if you discover that a critical team such as sales needs additional coaching on their work-life balance to prevent burnout, then consider arranging a mentorship or accountability program that provides support to each salesperson.

2. Apply the information from the culture audit to your hiring process.

When a candidate is in your hiring pipeline, you need to objectively compare the candidate to your culture to determine fit before entering your company. This step will allow you to make informed hiring decisions, helping your company continue growing in the right direction.

How To Put Everything Together To Measure Culture

You may think that measuring your culture is challenging, but the right tool can help you easily manage the process in your company. One example is the new ZERORISK HR Culture Audit that helps you execute the culture audit, gather measurable information, and affect change. The tool provides an objective measurement of the overall culture and the culture of individual teams, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and offers guidance on how to hire and retain employees that fit the culture.


Opinions expressed in Expert Commentary articles are those of the author and are not necessarily held by the author's employer or IRMI. Expert Commentary articles and other IRMI Online content do not purport to provide legal, accounting, or other professional advice or opinion. If such advice is needed, consult with your attorney, accountant, or other qualified adviser.

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