How to Improve Company Culture Using Real-Time Data

It’s no secret that workplace culture is a driving factor for company success. You know that a strong, positive company culture is key to energizing employees and maximizing ROI. But, it can be difficult to improve your company culture in a way that has lasting impact.

Here, we provide a how-to guide for defining, collecting and responding to real-time data to continuously iterate on and improve employee engagement in a scalable way.

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Sometimes it can be difficult to understand what causes changes in employee engagement. The only way you can achieve an accurate, cohesive picture of what impacts engagement is by observing trends over time. You should seek to gather data that can help you pinpoint what causes changes in environment — from broad economic cycles to internal management changes. This will help you gain results that speak to retention trends as it relates to engagement.

Leveraging Real-Time Data

Engaged employees are more productive, enthusiastic about the company mission, actively develop their skills, and provide superior customer experiences.

Traditionally, efforts to improve employee engagement have been based on annual surveys that can’t capture the dynamism of today’s connected workplace. Creating a culture that supports company growth requires one critical tool: real-time data on employee engagement and performance.

Defining Methodology and Benchmarks

Before you get started, you need to define what you are measuring and why. Doing so will also help you understand what the the results actually mean. Creating an effective methodology is a two-step process.

First, you need to define a baseline metric to measure. Then, you need to define comparative benchmarks so you can understand what success means.

Step 1: Define a Baseline Metric

While this varies per company, a good baseline is less than three survey questions, since you will need to ask it frequently in order to gather data in real-time.

If you are going to ask one question, eNPS is the question to ask. It is proven to be the best measure of employee engagement. If you have not run these surveys before we recommend using the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) as a baseline metric. eNPS asks one simple, high-quality question, proven to be the best indicator of employee engagement.

eNPS zeroes in on the metric with the biggest potential impact on employee engagement and customer loyalty with a single question:

“On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend this company as a place to work?”

Data supports that eNPS is the single most important question you can ask your employees, which is why many companies are adopting the methodology. Because it is a single, lightweight question, eNPS will help you produce real-time data that can be cut various ways and leveraged for multiple functions: identifying issues, targeting key drivers of employee satisfaction, and testing new programs aimed at increasing employee engagement. When you have a better idea of your eNPS, you will be able to identify and fix issues immediately, before they make their way to Glassdoor or other public media outlets.

Step 2: Define Internal Comparative Benchmarks

After you define a baseline metric, how do you know what the data you collect means? For example, if marketing has an engagement score of 67 out of 100, how do you know if that is good or bad? You need to be able to compare the numbers you get against something else as a reference.

While you can compare your company versus other company scores to see how you rank, this is not advisable. It can be difficult to accurately assess scores from other companies — even for the same questions, since cultures can vary. This is why most companies use internal benchmarks to understand what the numbers mean.

By setting internal benchmarks you have a better chance at getting the right data that can inform your company how to take action. Each company culture is unique, so analyzing trends within your own company is most critical. There are three types of internal benchmarks you can set:

  1. Data over time for one group: Compare data over time to see a frequent pulse on employee engagement. This will allow you to observe changes in engagement in real-time, and immediately react to those changes. Observing trends over time will give a clear picture of what causes changes in engagement, whether it be PR events, funding changes, quarterly earnings, new hires, or even broader economic cycles. You’ll also be able to understand how engagement trends as tenure increases, which can help you understand retention trends.
  2. Data comparing different groups: The alternative to analyzing one group over time is to compare across groups. You can compare data across different teams, departments, locales, stores or offices. For example, it might be beneficial to compare marketing vs. sales vs. engineers. Or, if a company has multiple locations, comparing based on geography can yield important results about efficiency of teams.
  3. Data comparing different managers: A lot of people are of the belief that you leave your manager, not your company. By understanding the engagement level of a manager’s direct reports, you can identify problem managers in your organization.

Collect Real-Time Engagement Data Using Lightweight Polls

Most companies either send a long, 50 question survey annually, or bi-annually. Given the time it takes to fill out one of these surveys, you can’t ask employees to fill them out more frequently. By using simple one question polls, you can measure engagement monthly, instead of yearly.

Unlike waiting for a third-party firm to cut and distribute massive amounts of data, these simple, iterative, and easily digestible polls enable a continual focus on action and adjustment. With real-time data software, you get an even faster information turnaround that supports a culture of improvement.

The more you measure, the better your data will be. Collection is all about response rates. If there is a problem in your company culture, you want to know about it so you can act on it — and fast! This is why it’s important to get real-time data.

The best polls can produce rich real-time feedback without overriding daily routines, so your questions must be easy to access. Choose an integrated interface that allows employees to respond without leaving their core workflows: more convenience means a higher chance of response. You can ask questions every month, then go into your automated system to easily check results.

By polling your employees monthly, not only will you get fantastic quantitative data, you will also get rich comments written by your employees. Listen to the issues your employees are dealing with immediately. If you don’t respond in a timely manner, response rates will drop as employees lose faith in the efficacy of the process. Addressing employee issues in real-time improves engagement because you are showing that the company actually cares.


You are well on your way to achieving a strong, positive company culture with productive and satisfied employees. And the best part? With real-time polling, you’ll see the data you need and be able to implement the steps to improve – fast! Through defining, collecting and responding to real-time data you will find it’s easy to continuously iterate on and improve employee engagement in a scalable way.