How People Analytics can Gauge Company Culture


Laraine McKinnon



Data is arguably HR’s most important asset. People analytics play a key role in recruiting and workforce management, and many believe we’ve barely scratched the surface of what is possible.

At the same time that culture analytics become more sophisticated, HR professionals are highlighting the importance of soft skills such as such as collaboration, communication and leadership. Each of these are hard to measure as they present themselves in individual behaviors and rely on productive team dynamics and a healthy corporate culture to thrive.

As a CultureTech firm, we help our clients create the ecosystem for a healthy workplace. We provide innovative online training for prevention of sexual harassment, implicit bias and ethics lapses, in a framework of awareness that inspires a growth mindset and behavior change. By embedding polling questions in our interactive training on topics ranging from microaggressions to retaliation to gender identity, we capture data on viewpoints, social norms and overall sentiment.

Here are some of the areas in which we focus our culture analytics:

Measuring Opinions

What do people in the organization think about common workplace issues?

  • What are individual opinions? What’s the distribution of opinions? How many people are total outliers with a distinctly different view point?
  • Where might opinions be silenced? (think politics)
  • Why might opinions be silenced? (think psychological safety)

This data helps explain an organization’s social norms and uncovers hidden areas of concern.

Measuring Behavior

How do people act – and why?

  • How are people likely to act in a certain situation?
  • Is that behavior intentional or reactive?
  • How are behaviors perceived by others?

This data helps organizations understand the motivations behind certain behaviors, avenues for creating behavior change, and the implications of “bad” behavior.

Measuring Belonging

With the evolution of diversity efforts towards belonging, we’re focused on understanding what creates a safe environment, both physically and psychologically.

  • Do people feel valued?
  • Have people had to minimize their heritage or personal identity to fit in?
  • What’s the distribution of people who feel excluded versus people who feel they belong?

This data helps organizations get a sense of the efficacy of inclusion initiatives as well as team dynamics.

Measuring Sentiment

How do employees feel about their environment at work?

  • Do employees think the company is doing a good job in the culture initiatives they espouse? (think D&I, zero tolerance for harassment, etc.)
  • Does management listen, and take complaints seriously?
  • Do employees think the company has a healthy workplace culture?

This data provides the feedback loop that helps identify where initiatives may not be performing as intended, and if senior management leads with authenticity.

Employers are beginning to appreciate the opportunity to connect culture analytics to organizational culture. This is bold, brave work for companies that are ready to do it. We’re grateful to get to work with many of them!

If you’ll be at HR Tech, come see our culture analytics at Booth: 2156. Also, tune in to our LinkedIn Live Discussion on Tuesday September 24, at 10:30am PT. People Analytics Expert Mitch Zenger and Emtrain’s Chief Product Officer Robert Todd discuss how to decode, measure and benchmark culture metrics, including the tricky culture issues of harassment and bias!


Leadershippeople analyticsWorkplace Culture

Laraine McKinnon

Laraine is an advisor to Emtrain, and an unconscious bias expert. Laraine is a passionate supporter of diversity in the workplace; she focuses on blending behavioral science (managing unconscious bias, organizational behavior), big data and practical implementations to transform workplace cultures. Laraine has led high-performance customer success and sales teams at BlackRock and Barclays Global Investors, and founded strategic consulting firm LMC17.

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