We’ve heard it before—employees don’t want a company culture comprised of ping pong tables and free beer. Especially in the wake of the Great Resignation, people expect organizations to provide meaningful commitments, such as a sustainable remote working policy or transparent communications. A strong company culture can go a long way in attracting and keeping talent.
But how do you maintain your company culture, once you’ve defined it? Especially as organizations grow and new people join a company, it can be challenging for HR and L&D teams to keep their company culture going in the right direction. This is especially true in remote or hybrid environments, where it can be more difficult for people to absorb cultural cues from their peers.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of all the ways that surveys, and employee feedback more generally, can help L&D and HR teams maintain their desired work environment. With these tips in mind, it will be that much easier to ensure you continue to provide an optimal experience for your colleagues.
1. They help HR and L&D teams choose the best training
All too often, Learning and Development teams rely on upper management to determine employee training curricula during an annual training needs analysis. While these leaders may mean well, they aren’t usually the best people to determine who should be learning what. After all, they aren’t the ones with the boots on the ground. Instead, forward-thinking L&D teams should go directly to the source and ask employees themselves to provide feedback on their own learning needs.
An example of how learners can declare their own Learning Needs in the 360Learning platform.
This way, L&D professionals can get a sense of where there are skills gaps, directly from the horse’s mouth. They can also get updates in real-time, when employees most need training, instead of once a year, when it might be too late to have the desired impact. With this feedback, they can match subject-matter experts with courses that need to be created, prioritizing based on what’s most important to the business.
2. They help HR teams understand if your company culture is going off track
Especially if your company has recently switched to a remote or hybrid model, it can be tricky for leadership to know whether new hires are acclimating to the company culture. Is it coming across correctly during your onboarding process, performance reviews, and virtual team-building activities?
That’s why regular surveys that ask specific questions about your company culture are particularly handy. For instance, at 360Learning, we’ve built our company culture around 12 guiding principles, collectively called Convexity. In our quarterly surveys, our HR team is sure to add in a series of questions aimed at understanding if 360Learners feel these guiding principles are embodied by the majority of people at the company.
3. They help contextualize training
Recently, our L&D team organized a fantastic training session around how to work with teammates from different cultures and nationalities. The training was based on the work of Erin Meyer, who was able through her research to map out how people from different countries tend to go about different aspects of their work lives, from communication to feedback to socializing.
She also stressed that, at a micro level, individual organizations can have their own sub-cultures within the larger culture they’re a part of. For instance, a Starbucks chain in the United States might have its own norms around how to give feedback or what good communication looks like, which may be slightly different than the average response for any American.
After our session, our L&D team sent out a survey to ask each of us where we thought our company culture fell along the scale of each of the factors we discussed in our training. That way, we could adapt what we learned—for example, to add more context when we communicate, or to soften critical feedback with praise—according to how people at our company tend to do things.
Using a survey to understand how each employee perceived our company culture allowed our HR and L&D teams a common baseline with which to structure further training based on this session, as seen below:
4. They help with organizing team-building events
One of the challenges with remote or hybrid work has been finding enough occasions for employees to create rapport through team-building exercises and similar in-person events. As our own research has shown, while there are significant perks to remote work, communication and team feeling do seem to take a hit when employees work out of the office.
That’s why it’s crucial for most companies to continue to organize some type of physical events. But the logics involved can be a nightmare; who’s free when? What food restrictions does everyone have? What should the agenda be? What is everyone’s comfort level when it comes to Covid? What special needs should be taken into account? This is where a simple survey can be mighty handy.
But, feedback is also incredibly important after an event has finished, too. Sending out a quick satisfaction survey to gauge what went well and what could be improved is an easy way to home in on the exact type of event that matches your company’s DNA.
5. They help leadership make tough decisions
While it’s not always a great idea to make decisions by committee, some choices are so touchy that it’s best to take the pulse of those involved. For instance, at 360Learning, our HR team hosts a bi-weekly all hands meeting. We recently tried out a new format, in which anyone could ask any question they like—anonymously—to our leadership team, live.
During one of these sessions, a lively debate ensued over a few hot-button issues. Afterwards, our HR team fielded some delicate questions from new joiners about this format—was this really the most appropriate way to do a Q&A? It was a tricky question; transparency is one of the key pillars of our company culture, and one of the reasons we felt this open style of communication suited us. But perhaps not everyone agreed, and there was a silent majority who didn’t feel comfortable with it?
So, our HR team sent a quick, real-time survey to gauge how 360Learners felt on the issue of keeping or ditching live, anonymous questions. The team gathered just the kind of information they needed to make an informed decision on the issue—one which they would have had to make blind if they didn’t rely on honest (anonymous) feedback delivered through a survey.
The bottom line? It pays to listen to your employees. If the Great Resignation taught us anything, it’s that most workers realize they have more bargaining power than they thought and aren’t afraid to use it. Employers that want to hang on to talent should proactively seek out their workforce’s opinions, preferences, and insights on important issues, especially relating to company culture.