Building a culture of stewardship is our collective responsibility.

Berkeley Lab's workplace culture plays a significant role in our lives as employees. It affects both our physical and mental well-being, our engagement and success in our work, and our connection to others. As we prepare Berkeley Lab for future generations, we must invest in our cultural infrastructure as much as our physical one. 


Ask questions or give feedback on the 2024 Lab Culture Survey at Office Hours with Adi Greif, Culture Data Scientist

Friday, March 22: 12:30pm-1pm

Join Zoom Meeting:

Wednesday, March 27: 10:30 am - 11 am

2024 LBNL Culture Survey


To make Berkeley Lab a place where every employee feels inspired to commit and contribute their talents to LBNL’s scientific mission, we need trustworthy accountability & feedback channels to illuminate our institution's cultural progress over time.

The 2024 Berkeley Lab Culture Survey, which will launch on March 20 and is the first of its kind at the Lab since 2016, is our collective opportunity to hold a mirror up to our culture and examine how we do the work we do. Your survey participation and feedback will give us, as individuals, teams, divisions, and as an institution, the data-driven insights we need to strengthen our existing bright spots and address where we fall short of living our institutional stewardship values and principles.

Your voice is critical - all employees are invited to give feedback. The more feedback we receive, the more nuanced and detailed a picture we will have of the Lab’s current state of employee culture.

Roundtable Discussion: LBNL Culture Survey

Introduction from Chief Culture Officer

Measuring Culture: 11 Organizational Constructs

The following 11 constructs, related to the 5 cultural themes pictured above, are measured by the LBNL Culture Survey. These are used most frequently in academic literature to assess organizational culture and are predictive of employee retention.

Please note that these constructs do not each capture a discrete or separate aspect of organizational life and workplace culture. Many of them overlap and influence each other. Utilizing the full survey inventories published by academics to measure each of these constructs would make the survey too long and impractical. Therefore, instead, we've selected questions from validated inventories that are the least duplicative and most relevant to Berkeley Lab.



Engagement relates to employee positive emotions toward their workplace, for example: an employee's willingness and ability to help their company succeed, largely by providing discretionary effort on a sustainable basis (Towers Perrin's Global Workforce Study 2012). Organizational commitment is often considered a key part of engagement and is measured by questions related to intent-to-stay, net promoter score, and pride/values/mission.

Key Components

Learning Processes & Practices


These questions are focused on learning processes and practices and leadership that reinforces learning. The goal of a learning organization is to be one that is comprised of people who "cultivate tolerance, foster open discussion, and think holistically and systemically. Such learning organizations would be able to adapt to the unpredictable more quickly than their competitors could” (Garvin, Edmondson and Gino 2008).

This construct is related to the cultural theme of "Opportunity for Growth & Innovation."

Sense of Progress


Many authors agree that a sense of progress at work is a key motivator for employees. This is sometimes called “mastery” or “competence” as well. According to Daniel Pink, we are driven by a need for mastery and that requires a sense of progress in our capabilities. Employees need space and support to foster improvement and growth (Pink 2009). Similarly according to Self-Determination Theory, employees want competence, which means having suitable challenges and receiving feedback (Deci & Ryan 2000). Amabile and Stevens in The Progress Principle (2011) also defined progress theory as consistent small wins in work, and said these are key to an employee’s positive inner work life. Progress involves clear goals, autonomy and interpersonal events such as encouragement, respect and collegiality.

This construct is related to the cultural theme of "Opportunity for Growth & Innovation."

Knowledge Transfer & Communication


Knowledge transfer in organizations is “the process through which one unit is affected by the experience of another.” Empirical evidence shows effective knowledge transfer helps lead to new “interconnected” organizational forms that leads to performance advantages (Argot, Ingram and Moreland 2000). 

This construct is related to the cultural theme of "Opportunity for Growth & Innovation."

Workload & Burnout 


Burnout is often conceptualized broadly and was once considered the inverse of engagement. Our survey constructs are organized similarly to the Areas of Worklife Model which defines burnout as the mismatch between the person and the job along workload, control, reward, community, fairness and values (Leiter and Maslach 2006).

Burnout is often characterized by exhaustion, lack of professional efficacy and cynicism (mental distance from the job and depersonalization) (Maslach and Jackson 1984). The Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI) focuses on measuring exhaustion and disengagement (Demerourti Bakker, Vardakou & Kantas 2003). 

This construct is related to the cultural theme of "Work-Life Harmony."



Many authors align on the importance of autonomy. It is one of three components of drive according to Pink (2018), who built upon the work of Deci & Ryan (2000). Schaufeli (2017) has autonomy questions as part of the ‘engaging leadership’ scale, where supervisors encourage freedom, responsibility, and individual strengths. We follow seminal author Breaugh (1985) who defined:

This construct is related to the cultural theme of "Work-Life Harmony."

Conflict Resolution


Successful conflict resolution is important for positive team and workplace dynamics. Conflict is an awareness of discrepancies, incompatible wishes or irreconcilable desires. Work group conflict can be positive or negative for productivity depending on the situation. It’s most often positive if it is focused on the task rather than relationships or process (task responsibilities, resource allocation). It can also be the most beneficial at the start of a process to help clarify roles and responsibilities (Jehn and Mannix 2001).

This construct is related to the cultural theme of "Protection from Harm."

Psychological & Physical Safety


Psychological safety is the feeling of safety in interpersonal risk taking and the ability to speak up without being punished or humiliated (Edmondson 1999). We also include questions on access to work accommodations - an especially salient issue given the rise of reported mental health conditions post-COVID generally and in the sciences specifically - and questions related to physical safety. 

Key Components

Belonging & Connection


Geoffrey Cohen in his book ‘Belonging’ defines belonging as the feeling of being part of a group that values, respects and cares for us (2022). It relates to feeling valued in the eyes of others (Jena and Pradhan 2018). It also includes having mutual respect, gratitude and interpersonal communication (Albrect 2013). It also overlaps with appreciative leadership (acknowledgment, recognition and appreciation (Rafferty & Griffin 2004) and psychological safety (Edmondson 1999). According to Self-Determination Theory, employees have a psychological need for relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 2000). This work builds on Claude Steele’s seminal literature on stereotype threat and how employees do worse at work when their identity is made salient, and that identity is tied to negative stereotypes.

This construct is related to the cultural theme of "Connection & Community."



Employees’ perceptions of fairness in their workplace and organizational justice is a factor that influences retention (Colquitt, Greenberg, & Zapata-Phelan, 2005). An inclusive climate means that identity group status does not correlate with access to resources, there is opportunity for individuals from different identity groups to establish relationships, and people from different identity groups integrate ideas from multiple perspectives when problem solving. This construct also relates to valuing diversity, voice in one’s organization, and satisfaction from equitable work factors such as pay equity (Nishii 2013). 

Note: we considered questions on pay equity, but given union and non-union representation for some jobs that is not a feasible goal in all cases. We also considered a question on promotion, but stakeholder group feedback was that some sets of employees do not pay attention to promotions and would not answer a question on it. We also considered a question on the transparency and fairness of the PMP process but decided it would be redundant to a parallel survey that is being administered.

This construct is related to the cultural themes of "Connection & Community" and "Mattering at Work."



Employee participation in decisions leads to successful implementation of new management strategies (Harber and Marriot 1991). It also can increase performance (Daniel 2019) and creates trust that leads to intrinsic rewards (Appelbaum et al., 2000).

This construct is related to the cultural theme of "Mattering at Work."


Survey Completions by Area & Division


"Culture eats strategy for breakfast."

-Peter Drucker