One of the key services we offer at Workology Co is Cultural Audits.

A Cultural Audit, also known as a Workplace Audit or a Cultural Health Check, is a way of taking the temperature of your business, of finding out how engaged your employees are in the mission, values and goals of your business.

And why do you want your employees to be engaged in your business?

Gallup research tells us that the 16% of Australian employees who are actively disengaged cost Australian businesses around $54.8 billion (AUD) per year.

Conversely, engaged employees means happier and more productive employees who are driven to reach individual, team and organisational goals.

And organisations with actively engaged employees consistently out perform their competitors by close to 150%. (Gallup again).

A Cultural Audit should be a highly valuable process to help businesses drive employee engagement.

Assuming the audit is conducted well, as distinct from…

My friend Marcus and his sad tale of woe

I have a friend, let’s call him Marcus.

Marcus is one of five partners in a medium-sized law firm that also employs around 35 staff including lawyers, paralegals and administrative staff.

As Marcus tells the story, a number of years ago the partners in his firm became increasingly aware of issues bubbling away within the office.

When searching for a professional to help resolve their issues, they were seduced by the bright and shiny promises made by one particular group. In essence, this consultant promised to come in and help fix all their employee related problems by means of a Cultural Audit.

Whilst somewhat sceptical about the dazzling array of promises made to them (after all, they are lawyers, and caution is taught in Law 101), they none the less agreed to the project and sat back to await the results.

Unfortunately, the outcomes of the Audit fell significantly short of the partners expectations.

The consultant did not spend any time with the partners prior to commencing staff interviews. There was no effort made to get to know the firm, or unpack what the partners’ aspirations for the firm were.

Nor did the consultant’s preparation include discussion with the partners about potential outcomes or recommendations arising from the Audit.

Leaders drive change, and so the Executive needed to demonstrate their commitment to the process, and that includes their commitment to consider and act on the outcomes of the Audit wherever possible, prior to the Audit commencing.

This ensures Executive buy in. Without it, the process will in all likelihood, fail.

In the absence of these initial steps, there was no executive buy in for the Audit from Marcus or his partners.

To compound this poor start, after endless rounds of interviews with the staff, and at considerable cost to the firm, a report was produced which detailed all the complaints that all the employees had.

None of which was news to the partners who had after all sought assistance initially because they were aware of the issues.

In what appeared to be almost an afterthought, the report concluded with what Marcus described as some ‘cookie cutter’ recommendations for the firm going forward.

Most of which the partners were unable to deliver on, and when this was conveyed to the audit participants, they felt cheated, having trusted that the process was going to solve all of their grievances.

Engagement was not increased following the survey, and it has taken the partners a lot of hard work over the subsequent years to earn back the trust of their staff.

The lessons from this sad story are clear

  • If your business is contemplating a Cultural Audit then make sure there is buy in from your key stakeholders from the outset.
  • Be clear upfront as to what it is the stakeholders aim to achieve from the project, including any topics that are non-negotiables. Request that any Audit questions and recommendations be customised for your particular business and aspirations.
  • Do not sign off on the Audit happening unless you are prepared to commit to properly considering the outcomes and recommendations, and implementing them where feasible.
  • Communicate with your people about the Audit. Tell them why you are doing this and what you hope to achieve from it. Be clear about any limitations, and explain that this is not just a whinge fest but a process designed to understand how they truly feel about your business.
  • Invite them to participate in an open, honest but also constructive manner.

If you are considering a Cultural Audit for your business, contact us at Workology Co and let’s discuss how we can help you create a more inspired workplace.