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Working Climate Survey

What is the Working Climate Survey?

The survey was developed to measure how employees and organizations manage uncertainty. People and organizations can either embrace or suppress uncertainty. The initial development of scale items for the Working Climate Survey was conducted in 1999. After improving and replacing items on the scale, the completed version of the Working Climate Survey was administered to employees in a variety of types of organizations across the United States and Canada in 2000. A total of 789 individuals had completed the survey by October, 2011.

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What can the Working Climate Survey reveal about employees and their organizations?

Based on scores from the survey we can determine which working climate best describes the organization. There are four possibilities captured in the Uncertainty Management Matrix:

  • Placid Climate: Employees and the organization both avoid uncertainty. Employees want few surprises and they rarely get them.

  • Unsettling Climate: Employees desire certainty while they perceive the organization as embracing too much uncertainty. Thus employees become unsettled and perhaps overwhelmed by the chaotic work environment.

  • Stifling Climate: Employees embrace uncertainty but they perceive that the organization avoids it. As a result, employees feel stifled.

  • Dynamic Climate: Both employees and the organization embrace uncertainty. Consequently, the climate is dynamic, energetic, and ever-changing.

What are the basic findings from organizations that have used the survey and Uncertainty Management Matrix?

Employees in the Dynamic and Unsettling Climates (both of which are climates where employees see their organization embracing uncertainty) express more satisfaction with their job, more commitment to their organization, greater identification with their organization, more satisfaction with organizational communication, more satisfaction with communication with their supervisor, and less cynicism about organizational life.

Employees in the Status Quo and Stifling Climates (both of which are climates where employees see their organization avoiding uncertainty) express less satisfaction with their job, less commitment to their organization, less identification with their organization, less satisfaction with organizational communication, less satisfaction with communication with their supervisor, and more cynicism about organizational life (see table below).

Overall, these results suggest the following order of desirability of organizational climates:

Are there any demographic trends in the data?

Yes. Studies to date have revealed the following:

  • Proportionately more women are in the Unsettling and Status Quo Climates (both of which are climates where employees avoid uncertainty) than in the Dynamic and Stifling Climates.

  • A larger proportion of top managers and managers are in the Dynamic Climate and Stifling Climate. These are climates where employees embrace uncertainty.

  • Proportionately more employees who work for non-profit organizations are in the Status Quo Climate than in other climates.

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