Q: I am the owner of a 75-employee business that has been growing slowly for 12 years. How can I determine how we’re doing as a workplace? Are there ways to measure our success?

A: Absolutely. In today’s competitive marketplace you are likely gathering regular metrics to support both operational and strategic decisions, and these can give you a broad understanding of your workplace environment as well. While growth is tied to your business model, strategy and economic environment, failure to thrive in an otherwise healthy market may be an indicator of trouble. A sudden unexplained drop in growth or profit rates can be an indicator of an overextended workforce. Employee tenure and retention rates, benchmarked against industry standards, can also provide good baseline indicators of how employees are feeling about the workplace.

Nothing can replace going to the source, however, and asking employees what they think. There are a number of informal tried-and-true ways to do this:

  • Managing by walking around and talking with employees.
  • Scheduling regular lunches with small groups of employees and asking them what’s on their minds.
  • Creating an employee-driven group charged with solving workplace problems, such as an employee forum.

Because increasingly sophisticated data is available to help manage all aspects of an organization and because we know unequivocally that healthy workplaces have an impact on business results, progressive organizations increasingly seek more formal data. Just as businesses seek feedback from their customers and clients, they are asking their employees about their workplace experiences and using that feedback to create more productive, employee-engaging workplaces.

Like any initiative, the first steps in this process are the most challenging. Once having gathered feedback from employees once, most organizations continue to do so periodically on a regular basis.

You are asking the right questions. Best wishes as you go about gathering the answers that you need.