TSI Blog

Employee Surveys – the true value of external benchmarking

August 31st, 2011 by Gary Cattermole

When conducting any type of employee survey for our clients, be it engagement, empowerment, motivation and even work life balance – we are nearly always asked if we can provide comparisons against other organisations.

And, like any good employee research organisation, we do provide external comparisons.  We have a normative database of survey results from a wide range of clients.

However, we always ask our clients the following:

  • When describing your organisation do you detail what makes your organisation the same as every other?
  • If you are ‘pitching for new business’ do you include unique selling points that differentiate your organisation from others?

I suspect the answers to the above two questions are ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ and I wouldn’t be surprised either.

Each and every organisation is unique, from an organisations culture and values, through to it’s management style.  So why is there such a demand for external benchmarking when, in reality, external benchmarking is comparing ‘apples’ and ‘oranges’.

From an employee engagement perspective, comparing externally is even more dangerous.  You see, the most unique aspect about your organisation is your employees – they truly make your organisation different and what drives engagement in your organisation will not be the same as even your nearest competitor or organisation that is setup in a similar way to you.

The reality is that external benchmarking is no more than a ‘nice to know’ and leaders and managers should never use external benchmark data to make decisions about their organisation.

The most useful benchmark an organisation can use in terms in terms of surveys is their internal benchmark – how they compare against their previous scores.  It is here where the real value of benchmarking can be seen – indices and targets for improvements can be set and then monitored and tracked.  An organisation knows exactly what is included in an internal benchmark/ index – from what the population was like the previous survey to exactly how many have responded to individual question items.  It is here that decision can be confidently made for making positive improvements based on reliable employee feedback.

Don’t get caught out by comparing your results against other organisations – it is not the be all and end all.

Find out more about our employee survey services.

Written by Gary Cattermole
Gary Cattermole is a Director at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Gary has extensive expertise and experience in a range of employee research techniques from employees surveys and 360 degree feedback to workshop facilitation and action planning sessions, working with a diverse range of clients such as EPSON, Telegraph Media Group, Natural History Museum, AVEVA and Accor. Gary is an avid sports fan, in particular table tennis and football. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

3 responses

Posted by: Employee Surveys – the true value of external benchmarking | The Survey Initiative | Employee Engagement – The Inside Story | Scoop.it
September 1, 2011

[…] Employee Surveys – the true value of external benchmarking | The Survey Initiative […]

Posted by: Measuring Employee Engagement through External and Internal Benchmarking
June 26, 2012

[…] Employee Surveys – the true value of external benchmarking […]

Posted by: Measuring Employee Engagement through External and Internal Benchmarking – The Social Workplace
March 22, 2016

[…] Employee Surveys – the true value of external benchmarking […]

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