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Organizational climate research: what it is and its importance

Renan Araújo

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Organizational climate research is one of the most important tools available for the area of human resources.  It can help an organization create the necessary conditions to improve its business results and the retention of its talents.

Several research shows that engaged employees (let’s talk a little more about what engagement is) deliver better results for their organizations. Thus, this is a strategic matter. However, research also shows that the vast majority of the workforce is little engaged: Gallup, a reference in the subject, found in a study that only 13% of the world’s workforce it can be considered engaged.

But why are we talking about engagement in an article on organizational climate research? Because the organizational climate is an important component of engagement. And as we’ve seen, engagement gives results. Organizational climate research is a tool that measures the perceptions of employees about various aspects of their experience, aspects that are understood as predictors of engagement.

Thinking about how you can use organizational climate research to deliver more results in your organization, we put together this material. Continue reading and learn more!

What is organizational climate?

First, let’s address the concept of organizational climate. In a simplified way, the organizational climate is the perception of employees of an organization about the processes, policies and practices of the company.

Organizational climate is a construct, that is, a concept created from other concepts. Therefore, when we talk about climate, we necessarily talk about its components. According to the scientific literature on the subject, the organizational climate is an amalgamation of the perceptions of employees in relation to various aspects of their experience, such as:

  • Pay and benefits
  • Career growth opportunities
  • Fairness regarding merits and promotions
  • Work equipment (software, office, computers, and so on)
  • Working in teams
  • Direct leadership etc.

Facebook Case

There are companies that are role models in organizational climate. Facebook is one of them. Among the main pillars adopted by businesses, collaboration, freedom and innovation stand out, which ensures good communication between professionals. Consequently, an environment is created, enabling the continuous search for new learning, as well as opens up space for professionals to expose their ideas in relation to their areas of activity.

As we discussed, the physical structure is one of the factors that reflect on the climate. Even though it is a company present all over the world, the Facebook office brings differentials to its employees, allowing a more pleasant and inspiring environment to carry out their activities.

In the company, professionals can enjoy the flexibility of schedules. Benefits offered to personnel go far beyond the mandatory ones, encompassing services such as:

  • Laundry;
  • medical office;
  • acupuncturists;
  • hairdresser; among others.

Thus, there is an opportunity to perform some of the activities within the organization, which would not take up time outside the workspace.

Google Case

Making decisions based on data is among the main pillars of Google to create a culture of innovation. Through them, the global giant’s human resources are able to understand the dynamics of human interactions themselves and leadership practices to make smarter choices. 

Googlegeist, for example. This is an anonymous survey sent every year to Googlers around the globe. With a high response rate (about 90%), the research addresses points such as: 

  • how the well-being of professionals is; 
  • what employees and employees think about the culture of the company;
  • what the perception about their leadership is; 
  • what the perception about remuneration is; 
  • how the balance between personal and professional life is; 
  • what their perception regarding diversity is;
  • career opportunities; among other issues. 

When research is applied, the People Operations Analytics team divides the results in all forms (department, management, region, length of stay in the company, etc.) and shares with all people. 

Managers then analyze the data of their respective areas and are encouraged to use this information to improve decision making. 

What is good organizational climate?

An organization with a good organizational climate is an organization where employees have a positive perception of their practices, processes and policies, which as we have seen can be related to internal communication, work in teams, leadership, remuneration and benefits, among other aspects.

What is the difference between organizational climate and organizational culture?

The concepts of organizational climate and organizational culture are very commonly confused, have even evolved very closely and have only recently become more clearly separated.

As we have already seen, organizational climate is the impression of employees of an organization in relation to its processes, practices and policies. Organizational culture, on the other hand, is the system comprised, on the one hand, of artifacts, stories, values, and, on the other, of the behaviors that these factors create in people. Despite the cross-fertilization between these two concepts, they are different.

Let’s take a practical example that can help us figure it out. When we study the organizational climate of a company, we try to understand if employees understand that the company seeks to recognize the behavior aligned with their culture. When we study organizational culture, on the other hand, we want to understand what specific behavior is being reinforced by this recognition and whether there are other factors influencing individual and group behavior.

Finally, it is worth noting once again that despite different themes are related: the results of an organizational climate diagnosis are very useful so that the organizational culture of a company is completely understood.

Read more: What is organizational culture?

What is organizational climate research?

Now that you already know what organizational climate is, the time has come to understand what organizational climate research is. 

The organizational climate survey is a survey that the company sends to a sample or to 100% of its employees and that has affirmations that are evaluated. 

The outcome of this research is a diagnosis of the organizational climate of the company, that is, the perception of employees of an organization in relation to its processes, practices and policies.

Organizational climate research is usually divided into dimensions-or themes, as we’ve seen before. In each of these topics there are a series of affirmations that are usually evaluated on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from “I totally disagree” to “I totally agree”. Some illustrative assumptions are:

  • Here at the company, people are recognized for their work
  • Here at the company, we are paid fairly
  • Here in the company, our work equipment is suitable for work

It goes without saying that organizational climate research alone serves only as a diagnosis. The next step in the HR area is to study the results, plan interventions in the practices, policies and processes of the company, as well as monitor whether these interventions:

 a) generated changes in the organizational climate

 b) when positive, if the change in the organizational climate promoted tangible business results.

Now we will see in more detail what are possible dimensions of an organizational climate survey.

Team members’ impressions on the company

Through this tool, professionals have the possibility to give their perceptions about how the company is seen. That way, it will bring your point of view on whether the organization is a good place to work or not.

Autonomy

According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, among the main trends in people management observed for the coming years, the inclusion of professionals in strategic planning becomes fundamental. More and more organizations will need teams that are more autonomous, more mature, and more globally oriented.

In this sense, understanding how this point works in your organization becomes important for leaders to draw more effective strategies that allow to bring this autonomy.

Among the advantages that this brings, one can single out:

  • greater responsibility for the team;
  • more effective results;
  • development of new skills;
  • talent attraction.

Benefits

As we showed in the case of Facebook, offering benefits beyond those mandatory is one of the points that foster a positive organizational climate. According to a Gallup survey of U.S. professionals, about 1/3 of professionals would switch companies due to more attractive benefits.

In another survey of Gallup, flexibility contributes directly to engagement: companies that adopt remote work in at least 60% and 80% of the routine enjoy:

  • 41% fewer absences;
  • 40% lower chances of work presenting some type of quality lower than expected;
  • 21% more in profitability.

Diversity

Today, more than ever, it has become essential to care about diversity in organizations. This is what proves a complete research carried out by McKinsey. Companies that care about this issue can take advantage of:

  • 152% higher chances of employees propose new ideas and solutions for their daily activities;
  • 77% chance of the company using external ideas (benches) to improve its products; 
  • 76% more likely to agree that the company uses the feedback obtained from customers to bring improvements to their processes and their service;
  • 72% probability that the company brings consistent improvements in its ways of meeting demands;
  • 64% more likely to confirm that the company makes room for new learning and knowledge sharing.

Leadership

According to a survey conducted by Gallup, leaders account for 70% of professionals ‘ engagement and productivity. Furthermore, 82% of organizations fail to choose their leaders. According to the same survey, for every 10 employees hired, only one has leadership talent.

In this sense, understanding the impressions that professionals have in relation to their leaders is essential so that teams can take effective measures to generate employee trust, in addition to bringing a better direction to the teams according to the needs of people.

Recognition

Recognition is an important strategy to foster engagement for professionals in a company. This is what proves some research on the subject:

  • leaders who recognize their LED contribute to a 60% increase in team engagement, according to a survey byTower Watson;
  • in a McKinsey survey, it was proven that compliments from leaders are more motivating even than cash bonuses;
  • about 41% of companies that implemented some type of recognition in their teams were able to analyze improvements in consumer satisfaction results, according to SHRM’s survey;
  • according to BCG, appreciation and recognition are considered one of the main drivers of”happiness at work”. 

Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, states that ” keeping so many people motivated to do their best involves a number of programs and systems we’ve developed at Wal-Mart over the years, but none of them would work without one very simple thing that puts it all together: recognition.”

And he adds: “we all like to be praised. So what we practice in the company is to look for behavior that we can praise. Look for things that are working out. We want our group to know when they are doing great work, and to know that they are important to us.” 

In this sense, count on a tool that can analyze how the team feels recognized allows the organization to enjoy all the abovementioned benefits (and proven by statistics!).

Is there an ideal frequency to apply organizational climate research?

Initially, let’s understand the following question: what leads you to the effectiveness of an organizational climate survey? Certainly, the first step is to worry about its implementation. Thus, searching for an ideal tool that allows a better experience of its professionals and also a more accurate analysis of the results obtained will effectively contribute to the success of the method.

With regard to periodicity, there is no fixed one that should be generalized to all companies of all segments. The ideal is that the team has effective time to evaluate the answers and can draw plans to bring improvements to the points observed (and, in the next survey, check if the perception of professionals has changed after the actions applied).

What are the main advantages of organizational climate research?

Here are some of the key advantages of adopting organizational climate research. Check it out!

Talent retention

According to the research developed by Robert Half between the years of 2010 and 2014, Brazil had the worst increase in the index of turnover among 13 nationalities analyzed.  The global average rate was roughly 38%. In Brazil, this figure was 82%.

Moreover, according to a recent survey of New CAGED, in May 2020 the amount of admissions fell by about 9.6%. In contrast, layoffs grew by 10.5%. When we compared regions, the Northeast and Southeast were the most affected: when we compared the amount of jobs generated and lost, the former had a drop of -2.99%, while the latter -2.22%.

Through appropriate tools for the applicability of organizational climate research, there is the possibility of crossing performance data with data from climate and engagement research. Thus, there is a possibility to understand the perception of talents on:

  • the company itself;
  • benefits offered;
  • culture;
  • human resources policies and processes;
  • strategies; among others.

Foster diversity and inclusion initiatives

As we’ve discussed, the topic of diversity is one of the points that can be adopted in organizational climate research. In this way, there is the possibility of verifying what the feeling of belonging on the part of minorities is (whether they feel included or excluded).

From the results obtained, there is the possibility to draw up specific action plans so that all talents feel part of the culture. Consequently, the organization will be able to verify the significant impacts mentioned above.

Generate actions to improve leadership

Leadership surveys will contribute to the company having an accurate X-ray of the perception of LED and led about its leaders and their leaders. From this understanding, there is the possibility of tracing training and development actions, as well as using other tools that can bring more proximity between managers and their team.

In this content, you could understand what organizational climate research is, what it can measure, as well as check out some of the main advantages of applying it in your business. As we have seen, understanding the perception that your team has on different topics is essential for leaders to draw effective strategies that contribute to the engagement and retention of good professionals.

If you want to know a tool that enables this application in a clear way, in addition to bringing the opportunity for a more accurate evaluation, please contact our team and ask your questions with our professionals!