We Just Dropped In to See What Condition Your Culture Was In

Several current and prospective clients have recently approached us at ADI with a request for an assessment of their safety or organizational culture. Requests for this service are not uncommon, but the reasons prompting recent assessment requests are, and they all fit a similar pattern. 

One common theme is increased turnover, particularly since the pandemic. While many organizations are reporting that turnover rates are starting to taper off, some are still reporting turnover at 20% or higher. Increased turnover translates into an influx of new employees. However, many clients are reporting that the pool of applicants and new hires differs in at least one way compared to that encountered pre-pandemic. The difference is that the people applying for positions now, and not just frontline positions, have little to no experience in the organization’s respective industry. This means that someone working, let’s say in the service industry as a cook, cashier, or waitstaff, might now be applying for jobs in high-hazard industries like utility companies and manufacturing. Also, clients who do not work in high-hazard industries are reporting that people are applying for leadership roles who similarly have little to no relevant industry-specific experience. The comments we are hearing have the flavor of, “they don’t know what they don’t know,” meaning that new employees are now working around life-threatening hazards or other industries without a background working in such organizations and without the corresponding skills in hazard recognition or other technical skills relevant to the positions. 

Another contributing factor is experienced employees retiring in large numbers. What our clients are seeing is that as people with the tribal knowledge walk out the door, with little opportunity to pass it on to younger generations, incidents (whether in safety, quality, or productivity) and/or patterns of undesired or at-risk behavior have begun to creep up. Alternatively, some clients have expressed concern that they simply no longer know what the culture is because so many people are new to the organization.

Typical components involved in culture assessments include surveys followed by site assessments. The surveys can assess the safety culture, organizational culture, or be upward feedback surveys for individual leaders. Site assessments include interviews with people at different levels, observation of meetings, a review of systems and relevant data, etc. The survey and assessment combination is a cost-effective and efficient way to get a handle on what’s working, what’s not, and what organizations can do moving forward to achieve desired improvements in their safety or organizational culture. 

If your organization is experiencing challenges in culture improvement for the reasons described above or other related factors, please contact ADI to learn more about how our culture assessments can help.

Posted by Bart Sevin, Ph.D.

Specializing in performance and systems analysis and the development of behavior-based implementation strategies, Bart Sevin helps clients create long-term organizational change.  As a highly trained and experienced Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Bart helps organizations examine systems, processes, and people strategies to ensure that their motivational initiatives are aligned to promote business success and drive their desired outcomes.