“At [organization name], we’re a family.”
“Welcome to the [organization name] family; welcome home.”
Organizations often liken their workplace to a family, and for good reason: workers spend at least half of their waking hours at work every day. Some might spend more time with their coworkers than their actual families, and some might truly feel a familial connection with their coworkers.
Whatever the case may be, the workplace is like a family in the sense that it is a culture web in which individuals—each with their own distinct personalities, skills, needs, and interests—are knitted together by their shared values and common goals. But, as in a family, it can’t always be smooth sailing. Conflicts, miscommunications, dysfunctional relationships, incompatibilities, and all manner of other complications are bound to crop up from time to time; likewise, as each individual has their own history, experiences, and problems, they can’t be expected to always be on the same page mentally, emotionally, or physically.
While families can turn to therapists to hash out these issues, unfortunately organizations don’t have the same luxury. Instead, organizations can enlist the help of consultants to carry out organizational assessments of their workplaces.
What is an organizational assessment?
“If we consider the organization as a body—a human being,” Gana Diagne, Chief Knowledge Officer at Workplace Options, explains, “meaning, for instance, if I were to take personal self-assessment, what information am I going to get from that? I’m going to get information about where I’m fine, what looks fine, and where I may be struggling or where I might need improvement. An organizational assessment does exactly that, but at the organizational level: Collecting individual data and providing a holistic diagnosis.”
“What is the purpose of all this?” he then asks. “The purpose is to make sure that your workforce is in good health. Why? Because your workforce is your first resource. At an organization, the one selling the product, delivering the product, the one responding to the client—all of that is coming from the individual,” he explains. “If they are not in good shape—and you don’t know that—your financial outcome will be impacted, but it will not be visible; it is a hidden cost. There is no financial statement that is going to tell you, ‘Okay, you are losing money here because of someone who is not in good shape.’ It is a hidden cost; You don’t see that. The organizational assessment is what can bring these root causes to light.”
As Diagne says, it’s the same as if someone were to see a doctor about a migraine. The patient can recognize symptoms, just as an organization can spot symptoms like absenteeism, high turnover, low productivity, or a decreased bottom line. But in both cases, expert assistance is required to identify the causes of these symptoms. The doctor can run tests to determine what underlying issues may be causing the patient’s migraine. It’s the same procedure for an organization; a consultant comes in, performs an assessment or a series of assessments (depending on the request), and identifies the source of the problem.
That’s the first part of an organizational assessment.
The second—and perhaps more critical—part of an organizational assessment is the guidance that a consultant then offers to help leaders make the right decisions for their organizations—their people—based on the information collected. This is particularly important because, while the internet may be filled with “best practices” or “best solutions” for improving and maintaining a strong, healthy work environment, leaders cannot always tell whether these suggestions will serve their specific workplace. Like families, all organizations are different, and as such, so are their needs.
“If you don’t have a clear map of what is going on, you don’t make the right decision,” Diagne says, “because to make the right decision, you need to have the right information. The goal of assessments is to give you that right information to be able to make the right decision for your specific workforce.”
What are the different types of organizational assessments and what do they measure?
Generally, any organizational assessment will, to some degree, measure the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) impacting the organization. Whether broad or narrow in scope, a SWOT analysis delivers a framework through which leaders can gain sharper insights into the current state of their organization’s health. This is accomplished by measuring what an organization is doing well (strengths), what it is not doing well (weaknesses), where it can improve or optimize its performance and wellbeing (opportunities), and what internal or external factors it needs to watch out for in doing so (threats).
Aspects of the workplace that organizational assessments might measure include the following:
- Skills, abilities, and capabilities of employees
- Credibility of leadership, effectiveness of leadership styles, decision-making
- Personality traits and untapped leadership potential of employees
- Culture, e.g., how well staff and management work together
- Business operations or processes and their effectiveness
- Personal aspirations and their alignment with strategic plans or organizational goals
- Capacity for improvement, e.g., what HR, tech, and fiscal resources are available and how well they’re distributed; what incentives or rewards are available and how well they’re distributed; how prepared a workplace is to pivot, etc.
- Reach, relevance, results, i.e., an organization’s overall performance
In effect, organizational assessments measure any aspect of the workplace that leaders want a better understanding of and provide explicit guidance on what can be done in response to such measurements. For example, as organizations’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion becomes a driving factor in staff recruitment and retention, more leaders are turning to DEI assessments to gauge how impactful current DEI initiatives are within their organizations, how their DEI strategy compares to their competitors’, and how they can improve upon it. Likewise, as leaders steer their ships against a never-ending tide of crises, stress, resiliency, and emotional intelligence assessments—like those recently acquired by WPO—are becoming a more popular and favorable solution for addressing change management and cultural transformation, allowing leaders to measure and bolster organizational agility.
While these assessments can be used to analyze processes, performance, efficiency, management practices, leadership styles, etc., talent assessments are also becoming increasingly popular as personalized care becomes employees’ most sought-after wellness perk. After all, a mismatch between an employee’s traits, skills, values, or interests and their role is one of the main contributors to a troubled internal culture, ultimately resulting in conflicts, disengagement, low morale, dysfunctional teams, poor communication, higher turnover, and a decreased bottom line.
That said, survey findings indicate that nearly two-thirds of organizations are now using talent assessments to aid in professional development, while 93 percent are using them in hiring. Similarly, personality assessments are being used to realign employees’ job responsibilities to match their strengths in an effort to cultivate greater psychological safety at work and improve engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
As Diagne notes, “If you have an organization supporting your [wellbeing], at the end of the day, you will be in better shape… Taking into consideration your health, your personal life, your personal and professional needs, making sure that you are in a safe and good environment, is [more critical than ever],” adding, “At the end of the day, it is a key differentiator in the future world of work.”
What are the benefits of organizational assessments?
As organizations strain under mounting pressure to adapt in response to rapid change, the benefits of conducting organizational assessments are obvious; they offer clear direction for leaders on how to enhance efficiency within a defined period of time, thus improving decision-making, planning, and execution.
As many experts can and will attest, change is hard. Hence so many organizations’ change management strategies are reactionary at best and inefficient at worst. As changes continue with increasing speed, as during the pandemic, leaders—let alone their organizations as a whole—have little time to reflect on how to best move forward. And furthermore, they have little time to reflect on how well their recent adaptation strategies fared. But with the help of organizational assessments, leaders have access to baseline metrics that facilitate prompt data-driven and forward-thinking decisions. And they can continue to collect follow-up data to assess the impact these decisions have on organizational efficiency in order to plan next-step solutions in a timely manner.
By leveraging data and employee feedback to make effective decisions, these are additional benefits organizations can earn from organizational assessments:
- Increased productivity and profitability
- Reduced costs
- Strengthened communication
- Improved engagement, satisfaction, and morale
- Enhanced teamwork, collaboration, and a greater sense of togetherness
- Greater innovation, creativity, and overall output
- Better market performance
- Enhanced learning and development
- Improved reputation
- Increased talent acquisition and retention
By specifically enlisting the help of a third-party consulting firm to conduct an organizational assessment or series of assessments, organizations also benefit from supplemental, skill-building programs and coaching.
Ultimately, as leaders look to redefine and underscore the value they bring to current and prospective employees’ personal and professional lives amidst shifting employee-employer power dynamics—in which ongoing talent shortages and reshuffling trends have now given workers the upper hand—demonstrating a strong commitment to their workforce’s wellbeing through the use of personalized solutions is a sure-fire way to communicate such value.
As Diagne contends, “Taking care of people is always the best investment someone can do because in return, you always get the best from that person. If you don’t invest in someone, don’t expect to get the best from that person.” And organizational assessments, he adds, are a crucial piece that allow leaders to identify where and how they need to invest in their people, and how they need to expand on or adjust those investments over time.” It is a not a short-term investment—that is also something people need to understand,” he cautions. “It is a long-term shift, a long-term investment, to be the winner of tomorrow.”