August 20, 2019
Company Culture 17 June 2019
Organizational Climate
Dillon Chen

We often hear about how important your company’s culture is and how it influences your employees’ ability to work and be productive. However, sometimes when we say “culture”, what we are actually referring to is the climate of the organization.

Culture is often referred to as the unique “personality” of an organization. If that is true, then organizational climate is the mood of your organization. Whereas culture is the system of values and beliefs that determine how a company's employees and management interact, the climate is how your employees’ experience that culture. 

In short, climate includes all the attitudes and feelings that determine your employees’ behavior in your company. While Company Culture is more in-depth and hard to change, the climate is easier to assess and modify. Factors such as team effectiveness, leadership, and support from the organization will influence your employees’ mood and the work climate. 


Measuring Organizational Climate

To a degree, the organization’s climate represents your employee’s motivation to work for your company and reflects how healthy your organization is. Employee motivation is related to the quality of the work environment and the support that employees feel they receive from the organization. 

Surveys are the most common way of quantifying organizational climate. the climate of an organization can be measured by surveying organization members questions that attempt to measure the current climate of the organization. By surveying your organization’s climate, you are able to evaluate the impact of human resource strategies. 

Aspects of climate that influence the performance of specific sets of behaviors and outcomes can be measured. Software such as ProSky can allow you to send out pulse surveys to measure the climate and get feedback from your employees on how they feel about different projects and procedures. By gathering this information, you can gain insight into problems that may arise and quickly address them before they become an issue.


Improving the Work Climate

The climate of an organization is open to change frequently and can be shaped by the upper management of an organization. The responsibility of measuring and improving the work climate falls on the CHRO and the HR department as a part of continuous performance management and organizational development. It is their role to improve the climate and keep the organization healthy. Below are some ways in which managers can directly affect the climate.

Organizational Structure

Your company climate will benefit and improve with the proper organizational structure. If everyone knows their roles and expected responsibilities, they will be more effective at their jobs. Do your employees know your company’s strategic objectives and how their daily work contributes to achieving those objectives? Knowing these details will improve employee motivation to complete their jobs.Consider implementing Pathways into your organization structure to clearly layout employee roles and career paths. This will show employees the milestones they have to reach, the training they will be doing, and growth opportunities available to them. Having pathways will make it easier for your management to promote internally, give pay raises, and identify employees for leadership opportunities.

Besides clarifying roles, a proper organizational structure is all about putting the right set of employees together to form great teams! If you group employees with complementary work styles that have a history of working well together, they are more likely to achieve success. Over time, each individual will become familiar with the methods of the other members allowing them to complete tasks independently from each other while working towards achieving team goals. 


Work-life Balance and Workload 

Employees that overwork and don’t have a proper work-life balance often suffer from burnout. Company culture is all about employing “perks” or systems to offset the workload. These perks can have a positive effect on the organizational climate. 

For example, giving your employees more autonomy to complete their tasks by implementing a flexible work schedule or allowing employees to work remotely as long as goals are achieved will help you establish a goal-oriented climate. Allowing employees PTO for personal events (like birthdays or holidays) maternity/paternity leave, or providing workplace wellness programs (gym memberships, counseling, stress-relief classes) will help your employees develop a people-oriented climate. Helping employees balance their lives and careers in order to prevent stress and burnout is important regardless of the climate you are trying to cultivate in the organization.


Recognition and Reward

Publicly recognizing employees is an easy step to improving your organization’s climate. Establish a system that rewards employees when exceeding job expectations, helping others, or contributing new ideas or processes. This is especially important to establishing an innovation-oriented culture and climate.

These can be as simple as celebrating a work anniversary, hitting a sales goal, or reaching a career milestone. Be transparent about how the company is growing from their contributions. Climate will improve as employees know that they will benefit from their efforts in the company and see the results of their labor.

Removing rewards to cut costs will often negatively affect the organization’s climate. While it is important to save money in some areas, make sure to consider the effects on climate and balance against the needs of the company. For example, taking away flexible work schedules to exert more control over employees can emphasize a rule-oriented climate that may seem oppressive.


Real-life example

Organization climate can be affected negatively by a single toxic employee. Without a CHRO or HR analyzing the climate and addressing issues quickly, these can devolve into bigger problems down the line.

At one of our client’s companies, one of the hires put into a management position had a very negative attitude. He often spoke poorly of upper management, abused the flexible work schedule, and constantly demanded more perks and bonuses for himself and his department. The whole climate became quite toxic as more employees began to feel that they were entitled to more compensation even though their performance did not reflect it. 

Because of one bad employee, bad attitudes festered over the course of 6 months and had a very negative effect on the climate of the company. Cooperation between teams and overall effectiveness decreased as employees had bad experiences and the workspace became a very tense and unpleasant environment. 

These problems could have been prevented with an internal HR department on-hand to gather feedback from employees about the climate and then implementing preventative policies to combat the negativity. Implementing a concrete pathway structure to specify milestones to be achieved in order to receive pay raises and bonuses would have also helped clarify expectations.


Conclusion

To contrast with the previous example, we had another company with a healthy climate. Management supported its employees' ideas and worked together with employees to find creative answers to problems. Employees responded well to the support and reciprocated with high-quality work and innovative solutions. Everybody collaborated and the mood in the workplace was positive.

Ultimately, company management is one of the biggest factors influencing organizational climate. Setting a clear organizational structure to support your employees. Taking an interest in their career development and helping them reach their work goals. Investing in employee training shows that you care about them as individuals. All these things are important in establishing a healthy culture and climate.