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Nuclear Safeguards Education Portal

Culture Indicator Surveys

Surveys can be very useful tools to assessing organizational culture if used properly.  They allow an organization to obtain information from a large group of employees in a quick format that does not cause a serious disruption to work activities or place an undue burden on employees.  Surveys provide a way of tracking subtle changes in culture over time as well as highlighting differences in subcultures within the organization.

The format and content of the survey are both very important to the usefulness of the data obtained.  It should be structured in a way that makes it easy for respondents to complete it: not too long and tedious; focused on statements they are capable of assessing; not given during a busy work period; given in such a way that respondents feel their responses are kept anonymous; and presented in such a way that employee participation in the survey is encouraged or incentivized. Ideally, it should collect metrics on all of the IAEA Model characteristics (see this chart) from employees at every level of the organization.

The IAEA suggests presenting respondents with statements to which they can show their degree of agreement or disagreement on a weighted scale. While the IAEA Model characteristics are the basis for survey questions, these characteristics can cover very broad areas or multiple topics.  As such, several statements may be presented for each characteristic in order to paint the fullest picture of the organization's standing in each area.  The statements should, where possible, elaborate on the characteristic or personalize it in such a way that employees are able to confidently give an opinion.  

The image below shows a sample survey.  In this case, the survey is focused on the "Use of Authority" characteristic, which is part of the prescribed list of "Leadership Behaviors."  That category is represented by several statements, each of which covers a different topic within the "Use of Authority" category: managers show good knowledge of their role; they make themselves approachable; and they do not overstep their authority to circumvent security procedures. In this example, there is also an open area where individual organizations can add statements pertinent to their own situation or perhaps that help elucidate a finding from a previous survey.



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