Canadian Workplace Culture Index sets out to measure the most intangible of factors

Rival Technologies is behind the study, which hopes to provide businesses with some self-reflection

Credit: Rival Technologies

Rival Technologies CEO Andrew Reid (left) and COO Niamh Cunningham (middle) helped develop the Canadian Workplace Culture Index

Rival Technologies is behind the study, which hopes to provide businesses with some self-reflection

We talk to a lot of CEOs and leaders of organizations here at BCBusiness. The main thing every single one of them stresses—no matter their industry—is the importance of developing a strong culture.

Of course, “culture” doesn’t exactly have a defining quality, or inherent metrics that come with it. Usually it’s depicted in the same way that people talk about true love—you know it when you see it.

Vancouver-based Rival Technologies is trying to change that. The market research firm recently launched the Canadian Workplace Culture Index, which allows businesses of 20 people or more to examine their own organizations. Developed in partnership with the Angus Reid Institute and the ReFrame Group, the CWCI looks at six core areas: workplace satisfaction, company cares, diversity and inclusion, information and recognition, employee connections and loyalty.

Participating organizations send the anonymous survey to their employees and earn a grade based on the results. Organizations that pass certain benchmarks are then officially awarded a Canadian Workplace Culture Certification.

“Companies are really struggling with employee retention and attracting top talent these days,” says Niamh Cunningham, chief operating officer at Rival. “Workplace culture is so critical to someone’s happiness levels at an organization. It’s almost like an abstract, conceptual thing, and we’re trying to help people quantify this very complex issue.”

To that end, the Rival team came up with a set of questions to uncover what workplace culture means to people and why it’s important. They settled on a 30-point questionnaire that went out to 1,000 Canadians across the country.

Even for the companies that score well on the survey, there are areas where almost every business can improve, says Cunningham, who notes that the results can be broken down by department to find trends.

There’s also the opportunity for CEOs to dig a little deeper into the results and make their own conclusions. “Two of the questions involved in the loyalty category are, Do you see yourself at this company in five years’ time? And, Would you move for a 10-percent pay raise?” Cunningham says. “If people say no to the first and yes to the second, that’s an indicator that this group is a flight risk.”

When it comes to workplace culture in Canada, some of the initial takeaways from the survey are fairly telling. “Thirty-three percent of employees think their managers don’t listen to them,” Cunningham says. “And 36 percent don’t feel like their managers genuinely care about them as people.”

The annual program is available to businesses on a sliding scale based on the size of the organization. Once a company hits the 60-percent participation rate, Rival hands out the scores and creates an actionable report to see how it compares to the national average.

“If you find you scored quite poorly on diversity and inclusion, we tell you what that means and how you can move the needle,” Cunningham says. “It’s a diagnostic program but also an actionable recommendation engine. Then you go back to the drawing board, make those improvements and then do the program the next year to see if you moved the needle on the core drivers that needed attention.”