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Benchmarking the results of your employee survey helps you get a feel for where the organisation is. And yet too often it leads to inaction. In the worst case, results are justified or explained away, instead of action being taken to improve things.
Employee experience surveys often play out something like this:
- The organisation measures their employee experience
- The results are not as good as was hoped for
- Managers justify why the scores are the way they are
When the results are not where the business wants them to be, it is natural to defend the outcome:
X was not achieved because of this …
This result will be because of [that event or issue …]
But to move forward purposefully, we must accept the findings. Then, we can work out what to do next.
On the other end of the scale, when the results are above average, the result often becomes the justification.
We’re above the line? Great! Carry on.
Suddenly the drive to complete the planned post-survey actions disappears. And while not actively defending the results in this scenario, still no action takes place. Why would it? If simply being above the line of average is the goal, there’s no motivation to improve.
Using benchmarking effectively
The golden rule of employee surveys (in fact any survey) is – What do you want to find out, really? Be clear on your objectives and then you have a better chance of unearthing the insight you are looking for.
Will benchmark data help achieve your objectives?
It depends. Is the benchmarking to provide insight, validation, or just a comfort?
External benchmarks – comparing other organisations’ results against your own is good for answering questions like is this normal? Are other organisations experiencing the same ups/downs as us?
These external benchmarks show relationships between factors that are currently missing in our own results to help us understand what’s going on.
Surveylab conducts its UK Workplace Study every two years to support our analysis and learning on employee survey data and current trends. Such benchmarks offer insight and validation. These are good to know, and then you need to ask “so what do our results say about us?”
Internal benchmarks – comparing results across the organisation or against the previous survey’s results will highlight where the strengths are and what is, or isn’t, working.
When looking at results for different teams, instead of thinking are scores better or worse than average – ask are the scores consistent? Are all teams’ scores in the same range?
(There may be important differences in how your teams operate, for example office-based vs field, customer-facing vs factory-floor, to factor into the analysis.)
Then you can look into what is different about X and start to understand why the results differ.
Don’t fall into the trap of chasing scores
Don’t fall into the trap of chasing scores though. If you’re just above that line – pat yourselves collectively on the back, but keep in mind what you were planning to achieve. There’s probably still work to do.
Set your Benchmarks
We think the most useful benchmarks are internal benchmarks. Yours. The feedback and survey data you collect tells you where you are, and where help and support will make a difference. Surveylab can get you started.