Employee Surveys – the true value of external benchmarking

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.