Five Tips for Creating a Great Culture Audit

Five Tips for Creating a Great Culture Audit

Getting on the Best Companies to Work For® list

I’m frequently asked, “What makes a good Culture Audit?” which is usually code for “Can you tell me how to get on the 100 Best Companies to Work For® list?”

Earning a spot on one of our Best Companies lists is serious business. When I stop and consider the business benefits of being recognized as a great workplace, I can understand why. Who wouldn’t want more qualified job candidates, a strong employer brand, or positive publicity for your workplace culture? Not to mention the outstanding employee pride, loyalty, and commitment that comes with being recognized as a Best Company, and helps drive overall business success.

Unfortunately, I can't give you a magic formula for being named on the 100 Best Companies to Work For list. No matter how compelling your prose or how many supplemental materials you submit, if employees aren't experiencing a high-trust workplace culture, a good Culture Audit won't be the golden ticket to earning a spot on the list.

I am currently working with our team of Culture Audit evaluators to select the 2012 Best Small & Medium Workplaces in America, and this has caused me to reflect on what makes a great Culture Audit. For companies that are vying for a spot on next year’s 100 Best list, hopefully the following tips will help you in preparing your submission.

5 Tips for Creating a Great Culture Audit

1) Provide the "fly on the wall" experience. When we started producing the 100 Best Companies to Work For list, authors Robert Levering and Milt Moskowitz would visit all of the list contenders. They would interview senior leaders, conduct employee focus groups, tour the facilities, take photos, eat lunch in the company cafeteria, and more. With so many companies now vying to be named on the annual Best Companies to Work For list, the Culture Audit allows us to recreate that experience on a larger scale. A great submission helps us understand what it feels like to be inside your organization, at your town hall meetings, in your cafeteria, at your trainings, receiving a recognition award...

2) Balance the What with the How. While a laundry list of great practices in your carefully honed workplace culture can certainly show strong variety, we need to understand how that practice is administered. The how is what provides insight into what makes your practice truly extraordinary. Many of your competitors will also have open door policies, town hall meetings, gym subsidies, 360 reviews, etc. Be comprehensive, but focus on what you do that takes a fairly standard practice and makes it world-class.

3) Show us the impact. Have your diversity recruitment efforts increased your diversity hiring by 10%? Did your wellness program reduce employee's average cholesterol by 25 points? How many employees have taken advantage of your tuition reimbursement program? Did a suggestion from an employee change how you conduct business? Show us how your practices have had a positive impact on your workplace culture.

4) Cultural Threads. I love it when companies tell us about their values. But I love it even more when I can see those values thread through all responses in the Culture Audit. Is promoting from within really important to your company? How do you celebrate that? How do you develop employees for promoting within? Or reward employees for promoting within? Seeing how your stated values thread through all of your practices shows a high degree of integration and a strong, values-driven identity.

5) What makes you the Best? It's important to remember that we are looking for the BEST companies to work for. Be certain to provide enough detail around your practices, how those practices are administered, or the impact they've had so that our evaluators can see that your workplace culture is truly unique.

We look forward to learning more about your great workplace culture!