Is your culture good, bad or seriously ugly? Here’s how to measure it

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Posted: Mar 2021

Company culture matters - it can make or break a business, whether big or small. Cultivating a great company culture is important for employee happiness, engagement and retention, as well as overall company reputation.

But what is company culture?

In part it is about ensuring employees feel supported and cared for – in their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as their professional progress. This doesn’t have to be all about providing massage or mindfulness sessions, a fruit bowl or a breakout games area. Although these sorts of perks are undoubtedly an added bonus, not every company can afford the grand gestures, and the simple things, like the boss pulling their weight with the tea round and making time to have a ‘how are you’ chat all matter.

Ultimately, a good culture is achieved by creating a positive working environment, where employees have a voice, feel fulfilled, included, valued and understood. This results in loyal, productive staff, paving the way for a thriving business, which in turn earns the company a positive reputation for prospective employees and clients. A toxic company culture, however, can harm staff morale and productivity, damaging the company’s reputation and limiting growth.

Impact on recruitment

Don’t underestimate the power of reviews on Glassdoor. Future employees will often read it and use their network to temperature check your culture before they will consider being introduced to your business. We have experienced many professionals turning down companies because of what they have heard about their cultures. The corporate comms world is deceptively small which means great cultures stand out, and ugly ones don’t remain a secret.

Whatever the size of the company, it is therefore important to shape culture in a positive and meaningful way, putting staff first. So how does your company culture match up? How do you go about measuring it?

  • Internal assessment - reviewing your culture internally is cost effective, quick, and a good first step. Ask employees how they view the company culture through surveys and/or a scoreboard system. And make sure you include all employees, from the senior leaders to the most junior – everyone experiences the company’s culture and everyone’s opinion matters. Don’t forget to leverage exit interviews – they are a great way to capture honest feedback about possible areas for improvement.
  • External review – To gain a rounded picture, the next step is to ask customers/clients and suppliers for their perspective on factors such as staff attitude towards them, how quickly suppliers get paid and how staff present themselves. And this doesn’t have to be complicated, a few phone calls asking for feedback on key points is all it needs.
  • KPIs – The proof is in the pudding; studying simple metrics alongside internal and external evaluations will help provide a full blueprint of your company culture, development and the impact of your initiatives.

What do you do next? It seems obvious, but don’t just sit on the results, especially if they are ugly! Once you’ve taken the initiative to measure culture you need to review the findings against your culture goals and act on them if need be. Don’t just make this a one off, review and measure your culture regularly so you know you’re staying on track and not missing any warning signs.

And remember that company culture is also affected by the employees you hire. They have the ability to either strengthen or weaken it, so it’s important to find candidates that are the right fit for your culture, as well as other aspects of your business.

The Works Search is a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email

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