Throughout the first half of 2014, the employee communication team at the e-commerce giant eBay began to pick up on a rising concern among employees over a perceived change in the company’s culture. The sentiments, received through ad-hoc surveys, Q&A sessions and one-on-one sessions with managers, had not been identified as an issue in a previous annual colleague engagement survey.
Sample comments from employees included: “It feels like our culture is changing, and not in a good way,” and, “This just doesn’t feel like a fun place to be anymore.”
Having reviewed this feedback from employees, the management team was clear that any negative changes in eBay’s culture needed to be understood and rectified to ensure the company’s continued success. The situation was made more urgent by an upcoming re-organization and the impending announcement of eBay’s divestment of PayPal. These factors gave the communication team only a six-week window in which to identify whether an issue existed and, if so, what it actually was.
Our objective was to find a way of effectively measuring “culture” in a way that allowed us to identify areas where the culture may have changed or was not reflecting the ideals of the business, in order to allow us to define ways to tackle them. We knew we would have to do something new and innovative, as there was no existing mechanism in the business to identify company culture.
We identified our key stakeholders (the leadership team, HR leaders, and employees) and what we would need to address with each group in order to achieve our aims:
- Provide evidence that colleagues are concerned about culture
- Gain commitment to find out if there is an issue
- Provide information to allow them to support research with their teams
- Inform them of the plan and gain consent
- Explicitly link culture research to eBay values and behaviors to show alignment to HR engagement survey
- Work with them on output of research to allow them to buy in to the results
- Communications to reflect we’re doing this in response to their feedback (you said,
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