Part 1: Would your company benefit from a workplace assessment & culture review?

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Part 1: Would your company benefit from a workplace assessment & culture review?

A workplace assessment & culture review can provide a thorough look into your organization’s culture and address any workplace issues that could damage the organization or become costly, public, or litigious.

I have conducted multiple workplace assessments & culture reviews for the non-profit, private, union, and non-union organizations. The initial reason these reviews were performed was concerns around leadership, employee morale, or a “temperature check” to confirm employee workplace experiences.  

Recognizing there is an issue within your organization is an excellent first step. However, uncovering what is causing the issue is more complicated. Employees may fear speaking directly to organizational leaders about their negative experiences in the workplace. The fear might stem from the possibility of being ostracized, not wishing to be identified, the worry of being fired, or widespread anxiety of the negative impact it will have on their position and future with the organization. Therefore, a workplace assessment & culture review is an effective and confidential way to ensure employees’ voices are heard by an impartial individual.

Workplace assessment & culture review steps

When I conduct a workplace assessment & culture review, my first step is to speak to the organization’s leader(s) and understand the overall culture. I request all policies, processes, and documentation relevant to the organization and conduct a comprehensive review.

Next, I will consider conducting a survey. Within the survey, I request feedback about the workplace culture, negative/positive relations with the employee’s direct report, work-life balance, and co-worker experiences, to name a few. At the end of the survey, participants will have the opportunity to provide their contact information for a one-on-one interview to expand on the survey questions and address additional issues. One-on-one interviews are essential to unearth a true and accurate picture of what is occurring within the organization.

Focus groups are another option, and time-saving method, to garner information in a group setting. However, I would caution using focus groups, particularly if the surveys’ responses have revealed a toxic culture. Participants may hold back in focus groups or not be completely open with their overall experiences.

For the one-on-one interviews and focus groups, I utilize a trauma-informed method of interview. I ask open-ended questions focusing on the whole experience of the participant. For example, questions may include, “what are you able to tell me about your experience working for your organization?”; or “What are you able to tell me about your experience working for your Manager?” I have had tremendous success focusing the communication during interviews using a trauma-informed method. A trauma-informed method creates a safe and open approach that allows each participant to share overall experiences versus direct close-ended questions.

Finally, I examine all the documentation, surveys, and interviews I have obtained from the organization and create recommendations to guide the organization in addressing the review’s findings.

A workplace assessment & culture review will provide information for leaders they might not otherwise know while offering a plan forward to address any issues to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

Moving forward following a workplace assessment & culture review

Stay tuned. In Part two of the workplace assessments & culture review article, I will address what leaders in organizations can do with the information I discover and what can happen when no action is taken to tackle critical organizational issues.

Jen Magnus has a Doctorate of Business Administration in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Magnus uses her academic knowledge and years of work experience to conduct workplace assessments, investigations, and training related to bullying and harassment, organizational culture, leadership, and trauma-informed interviewing. She is a 14-year veteran of policing, an instructor of post-secondary institutions, and a member of several Public Boards. All notes, publications, and opinions are her own unless otherwise specified. © Magnus Consulting 2021

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