Company culture: 4 ways to gauge employee happiness

Companies are always striving for a winning company culture. A great company culture attracts top tier talent and helps retain talent, however, a poor company culture is actually one of the top reasons that employees leave a position. In fact, according to our Annual Tech Talent Surveys, 16% of employees would leave an employer due to company culture. That should be a startling statistic for companies everywhere.

How do you figure out if you have a good company culture or a not? Having company get-togethers, free food or perks like unlimited vacation do not equal good company culture. In fact, some companies go overboard with team-building events and activities, failing to realize that not every employee enjoys another chance to mingle with coworkers. Other companies have found that over-the-top perks like unlimited vacation is actually a culture destroyer because employees become afraid to take “too much vacation” compared to coworkers. With all these mixed signals when it comes to company culture, how can you make sure your company is on target and how can you tune into the signals when you’re veering off-course?

Grumbling Employees

If you notice your employees are grumbling or looking bored at your next company “fun” event, it could be a sign that your attempt at a winning company culture is missing the target. Forcing employees to attend events and have “fun” is a recipe for disaster. Some employees are not as outgoing as others and forcing them to be social can result in them starting to dread work. It doesn’t matter how much the event cost or if you think the employee should “appreciate” it. And, just because an employee doesn’t enjoy company events doesn’t make them a bad employee, maybe they’re shy or maybe they’d prefer to spend their time working on their projects. Or, perhaps they’re on a deadline and getting mixed signals from a manager about being able to attend an event and still finish on time. At the end of the day, no one should be forced to attend company events or shamed if they don’t want to go. Turn your mandatory get-togethers into optional ones and don’t stress if some don’t want to participate. In my experience, a lot of employees, especially those that work in technical fields, don’t enjoy forced get-togethers with the entire company. What is supposed to be a fun event is actually a painful experience mingling with coworkers you only see a few times a year and they never remember your name.

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A great way to perk up your next event is to have someone from every department participate in the planning. Often, company events are planned by the HR or Marketing Department. What’s fun for someone in HR or Marketing may not be fun for someone in the IT department.

High Turnover

If you’re losing a high number of employees and can’t figure out the reason it could be at least partially due to company culture. Poor company culture is sometimes hard for an employee to articulate, especially on an exit interview. Employees instead might report a lack of workplace challenges, engagement or feeling as though they don’t fit in. Since the PROTECH annual tech surveys report 90% of employees are considering new roles, identifying issues with company culture can be key to preventing turnover.

It’s important to remember that company culture can stem from company policies and procedures. For example, it might be a policy to give out warnings if employees are more than 5 minutes late. This can cause resentment, especially if you ever expect your employees to work late on key projects, or the rules don’t apply to management. In the end it all comes down to trust – good management isn’t watching the clock and instead trust their employees to give the appropriate amount of time to work each day.

Online Reviews 

A great way to learn if your company culture is successful is checking out those online reviews. Glassdoor is a great resource for companies to learn about any qualms current or past employees have with your company culture. If you brush off these reviews as the ramblings of a disgruntled employee, you’re missing the big picture. Employees becoming disgruntled enough to be fired or quit are not an indication of a positive or productive company culture. In fact, many studies directly link employee happiness with productivity, so if your employees aren’t producing the results you’re looking for, you might need to take a closer look at your company culture.

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Internal Surveys

Want to find out if employees are really engaged in your company culture and company sponsored events? Why not take a survey? It’s easy to engage employees to provide their honest feedback through offering incentives to fill out an anonymous. Make sure the survey is actually anonymous – don’t expect employees to hand-fill it out or email it in as that can allow for someone to identify the person filling out the form. Surveys – and actually listening to surveys – can be a good test of your company culture and show you the weak spots that might need some improvement. Also, though it is too late at this point, make sure to ask about company culture at the exit interview or survey.

In conclusion: having a great company cultures is key to not only attracting, but retaining key employees.

Company culture: 4 ways to gauge employee happiness

Elizabeth Becker

Elizabeth is Marketing Manager at PROTECH. Comments and feedback can be directed to her at