Corporate social climate: measurement and optimization


The evolution of the social climate within a company has a direct impact on the productivity and attractiveness of its organization. As a result, measuring and optimizing it are strategic issues for General Management and Human Resources.

This year, 2023, 69% of working people are considering changing jobs, according to a
MeteoJob/Yougov study
in December 2022. And unsurprisingly, standard of living and work/life balance are the two main criteria cited by respondents as the reason for wanting to change jobs.

When we go into more detail, among the factors influencing social climate, salary, quality of management and working environment are at the top of the list. Measuring, monitoring and optimizing a company’s social climate is therefore more essential than ever in the volatile job market that is shaping up for 2023.

Social climate in the workplace: definition

A company’s social climate is its employees’ perception of overall working conditions. In macro terms, it represents an indicator of employee satisfaction at time t, enabling us to assess the company’s social health. This satisfaction is influenced by many factors, both internal and external to the company.

Measuring the social climate makes it possible to gather feedback from employees, and to understand and analyze their satisfaction and perception on various subjects linked to their professional life within the company, such as working conditions, motivation, remuneration, management, communication…

Measuring the social climate helps to prevent psychosocial risks and identify dysfunctions and tensions within the company. On a more positive note, it helps to improve working conditions for employees, capitalize on the company’s strengths and drive progress throughout the organization.

In short, measuring the social climate can be used as a rudder and, if necessary, to review the company’s strategy. So how do you measure and optimize your company’s social climate?

Measuring the social climate: importance and impact on performance

The social climate has a direct impact on an organization’s economic performance and the attractiveness of its employer brand:

  • Economic performance: satisfied employees perform better, are more motivated and therefore naturally show greater commitment, rigor and speed in carrying out their tasks. Satisfied employees are also more committed and therefore less absent.
  • Attractiveness/employer brand: a company with a good social climate is more attractive to candidates. At a time when employee reviews are being scrutinized by job applicants on platforms such as Glassdoor and HappyatWork, it’s vital to take care of your social climate. Moreover, if employees are engaged, this will also have a positive impact on talent retention and loyalty, thereby reducing the turnover that costs companies dearly.

There are many factors influencing social climate, so how do you measure it?

Social climate measurement and analysis methods

Assessment tools and key social climate indicators

To measure and analyze the social climate, there are objective, measurable indicators, and more subjective indicators that can be derived from qualitative studies.

Factual indicators include the following:

  • Absenteeism rate;
  • Staff turnover
    and average employee seniority;
  • The eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score), which measures the likelihood of employees recommending their company as a good place to work.
  • The number of work-related accidents, sick leave and delays ;
  • Strike days ;
  • Individual and collective disputes and industrial litigation;
  • Employee career development: promotions, raises;
  • Requests for transfers or changes of department;

These objective, quantified indicators need to be monitored by HR in order to detect changes in the social climate. If they are regularly monitored, they enable rapid action to be taken in the event of a deterioration in indicators.

In addition to monitoring these HR indicators, it is possible to set up surveys, or “opinion barometers”, aimed at employees, in order to take their pulse on a regular basis. To enable analysis of the results, the questions should not differ from one survey to another, or only marginally if necessary, depending on the context.

Finally, in a more qualitative than quantitative way, HR can also conduct individual or group interviews to “feel” the ground, refine feelings or validate analyses drawn from quantitative indicators.

infographic presenting the various factors influencing the social climate

Interpreting results and identifying improvements

In order to monitor changes in the social climate, and particularly if work is being done to improve it, it is important to repeat surveys on a regular basis. Some application solutions now allow you to take the pulse of your employees on a weekly or even monthly basis, depending on your company’s needs.

In the first instance, it’s up to HR to interpret the results and identify areas for improvement. They will be in charge of proposing concrete actions to improve the social climate. What action plan to optimize the social climate?

HR looking at the results of a social climate survey

Strategies and action plans to optimize the social climate

To improve the social climate, several parameters can be adjusted:

  • Re-establish a climate of trust through better communication within the company, both between employees and with management. Managers play a key role in the social climate, since they are in direct contact with employees and are responsible for answering their questions and setting objectives. They need to encourage bottom-up communication, so that employees feel more valued and listened to.
  • Improving working conditions for employees: lightening workloads if they are too heavy, better distribution of tasks between employees, recruiting new staff, modifying working hours or improving premises to make them more welcoming;
  • Implement a new remuneration policy: more attractive salaries or bonuses to motivate employees to get involved and give their best;
  • Recognize employees’ work: offer regular feedback to enable each employee to feel valued and recognized for his or her work, and hold regular individual interviews;
  • Propose an
    bilan social individuel (BSI)
    : A genuine HR development tool, it is addressed to each employee and lists the main elements of his or her remuneration and other benefits (salary, fringe benefits, luncheon vouchers, leave, training, health insurance, etc.). The BSI makes it possible to enhance the value of all compensation packages, some of which are often ignored by employees: social packages, training, deferred compensation. The ISB is a fantastic tool for highlighting HR investments. It’s also an effective communication tool for building loyalty, attracting employees and negotiating with them, as it promotes the company’s salary policy. In this way, employees benefit from a better understanding of their remuneration and other benefits.
  • Work on development prospects within the company to motivate employees to achieve their goals, and offer them training opportunities;
  • Strengthen social relations by organizing team-building events to boost cohesion and a sense of belonging.


Other avenues can also be explored to improve the social climate, for example by grouping together issues that are broader than those directly linked to work. A
recent article
from Le Monde highlights the commitment of some employers to combating violence against women in the private sphere, insofar as it interferes with professional life, even forcing victims to leave their jobs.

In fact, 55% of employees questioned in a 2021 survey conducted by the Observatoire des Violences Conjugales said that the violence had affected their work, particularly in terms of lateness, absenteeism and reduced productivity. Employers who integrate collective agreements with operational measures (geographical transfer, payment of wages to another bank account, etc.) make a positive contribution to the company’s social climate.


There are many ways to improve a company’s social climate, and in most cases, they are inexpensive. It does, however, require investment, particularly on the part of the human resources who must be behind the actions. Above all, HR is the bearer and embodiment of the corporate culture.

man who applauds work

Action plan to improve the social climate

Improving the social climate is all about communication, authenticity and goodwill. A typical action plan might look like this:

  1. Bringing together stakeholders in a spirit of cooperation and participation, to reflect together on levers for improvement, based on analyses drawn from objective indicators and opinion surveys.
  2. Define the issues to be addressed (turnover, absenteeism, etc.) and break them down into more specific themes, such as work organization and communication with management….
  3. Organize working groups over a short period of time on the sub-themes identified, to ensure the commitment and attention of all stakeholders.
  4. Report on the work of the focus groups.
  5. Propose concrete, costed solutions for the short, medium and long term, with an action plan. An external HR consultant can be called in to carry out this task.
  6. Communicate on the results of the consultation and the selected proposals.
  7. Deploy the selected action plan and evaluate its effects by monitoring the indicators.

In conclusion, improving the social climate means first and foremost setting up and monitoring HR indicators (absenteeism rate, turnover, etc.), carrying out a social barometer or survey, and paying particular attention to social dialogue, internal communication and the overall quality of working life (environment, management, working hours, contracts, etc.).


The HR department and management are in the front line, and must maintain the right balance between the economic aspects and the well-being of employees at work. To help them, they can call on external HR consultants to carry out an audit and then introduce new practices to improve the social climate within the company.

Calling on an HR consultant to address social climate issues

EXPERT OPINION - Mireille Blaess, VP Human Capital, Voisin Consulting

Mireille Blaess

According to our expert, the employee engagement survey should be an ongoing management tool for the organization, as is the case in Scandinavian countries. Over the past 3 years, she has set up engagement surveys in her company. It tracks results through three key indicators: participation rate, recommendation rate and overall satisfaction rating (the company’s “TripAdvisor”).

These surveys enable us to identify what matters to employees, and to put in place action plans to improve certain items. These surveys are very useful, for example, when the company is present in several locations or countries, to check that employees feel the same way about the organization, whatever their geographical location. Cultural differences between countries mean that employees’ concerns can differ greatly between sites. The survey enables us to provide answers to individual and collective concerns, and to respond to them in an equitable way through a global policy. According to our expert, fairness is key.

These surveys are also beneficial when the company’s sector is highly competitive, with employees receiving numerous external solicitations. In this case, working on the social climate and general atmosphere of the organization helps to improve talent retention.

At the end of the survey, management has to choose a few subjects to deal with, looking at what each group can do in sub-groups. According to our expert, it would be totally counterproductive to try to treat everything. The aim is to identify the points on which we can have an impact through action in the field. The following year’s survey will enable us to verify whether these actions have had the desired positive effect.

To sum up

En 3 Questions

  • What are the indicators for measuring the social climate?

    The social climate is measured using quantitative indicators such as turnover, absenteeism and eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score). Its measurement can be supplemented by qualitative data drawn from employee surveys or individual interviews.

  • How can we improve the social climate?

    A number of factors help to improve the social climate. Levers for action generally include management, communication, compensation and career development policies, and individual social audits.

  • What is the Bilan Social Individuel (BSI)?

    The Bilan Social Individuel centralizes all the individual and collective benefits enjoyed by the company’s employees (social packages, training, etc.). Available online, it highlights benefits that employees are not always aware of. It’s a real communication tool, creating a bond between managers and employees.