Written By Chris Ihrig

Published on December 20, 2023

In early 2022, when organizations were still dealing with the so-called “Great Resignation,” a study from MIT Sloan Management Review found that a toxic organizational culture was 10x more likely to drive people to quit their jobs than complaints about compensation.

Think about that: People who felt they were underpaid were far less likely to quit than those who didn’t like how they were being treated while on the job. 

The thing is, a toxic culture is entirely preventable. But it takes focus, intention, and real effort from an organization — not just once, but repeatedly. That’s where a tool like our Annual Culture Index comes in.

Designed to give organizational leaders a meaningful and tangible way to look at the people side of your business, the Annual Culture Index is a survey that allows you to see, understand, and feel how your team members are engaging, or not engaging, with the most important factors that drive high-performing teams. 

How the Annual Culture Index Works

The survey is centered around six organizational cultural categories:

  • Purpose
  • Systems and Processes
  • Customer Promise
  • Leadership Impact
  • Teaming and Collaboration
  • Work Environment

When team members complete the Annual Culture Index, they are asked to rate their level of engagement around each individual cultural element using a scale from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. 

Once surveys are completed and tabulated, each category is given a score:

  • Fired Up! means respondents are actively engaged
  • Igniting means responders are feeling good, leaning in, and are hopeful about the future
  • Smoldering means responders are neutral, passive, and have a “wait and see” attitude
  • Burnt-Out shows that responders are actively disengaged and frustrated 

It’s important to note here that all respondents are kept anonymous, and that surveys should be conducted year over year to establish benchmarks and, hopefully, show improvement.

Unpacking the Cultural Categories

In the Annual Culture Index, your organization’s purpose is categorized as “Our Why.” It measures your shared clarity of purpose — whether your team members know and support the organization’s reason to exist, goals, and values.

Systems and processes fall under the “Our Way” category, a measurement of how well your organization manages systems and monitors process improvement. This can include your ability as an organization to design and redesign its structure for desired outcomes, creating the appropriate hard and soft measures to stay on track, and more.

“Our Customer Promise” exposes where your organization stands with your customers according to your team members. This gives you a clear read on what they think of the value you are offering, and whether your team believes your customers see you as a trusted advisor.

Similarly, “Our Leadership Impact” reveals how your team members feel about the impact of leadership in the organization and whether leaders have adopted a shared mindset that can attract, retain, and develop great team members.

To measure how your organization collaborates, “Our Teaming” gets to the bottom of whether teams are able to effectively work together to solve challenging problems and successfully complete work assignments. 

And finally, responses in the “Our Work Environment” category uncover whether the organization’s culture supports team members and encourages their best work. Organizations with healthy environments are able to inspire excellence and loyalty, generally carrying a reputation for being a good place to work.

The Value of the Annual Culture Index

Whether your organization is trying to survive or thrive, executives need clear measurements of success so that every person in your organization is aware of what lies ahead and is motivated to deliver the results you need.

After completing the Annual Culture Index and reviewing the organization-wide results, leadership teams will be able to see where the organization currently stands — and where cultural improvements need to be made.

You’ll also be able to better identify the key levers for organizational change, tackling problems with fresh insights. As a team you’ll be able to:

  • Understand the key factors driving customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • See a clear picture of your present operational situation
  • Identify your ideal culture and build a pathway to get there
  • Create action plans to drive your desired outcomes
  • Improve your systems and processes to sustain or increase your business growth

A healthy organizational culture doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not something an organization stumbles into, or wills into existence. It takes work, focus, and a commitment to ensure your organizational values are understood throughout your teams.

With our Annual Culture Index, executives are able to create actionable plans for building a culture of excellence. Check it out today.