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Benchmarking Makes Employee Survey Results More Powerful

3 min

Turning employee survey results into an actual strategy can be difficult.

Let’s say your organization, like many others, is on a mission to improve the employee experience. After sending out an employee survey that measures engagement and satisfaction levels, you’ve compiled some seemingly impressive stats about your workforce, like “68% of employees report feeling satisfied with their job.”

Getting a solid collection of responses is a real accomplishment. But now that you have the data, you’re probably wondering: “What next?”

Having data is one thing. Knowing what that data actually means and how to use it is another. Benchmarking your survey results can provide a look into how your organization improves over time and how it compares to similar companies. This key information will give you the guidance you need to start planning your employee experience strategy.

Related: Building an Individualized Employee Experience Strategy

Benchmarking puts employee survey results into context

A two-step process that combines internal and external benchmarking will give you a guideline for improving the employee experience that is adaptable to the unique conditions of your company, while also providing solid correlations between improvement efforts and outcomes.

External benchmarking allows you to compare employee survey results to similar companies to get an idea of where your employee experience currently stands. This can help put results that may seem especially low or high into context according to your industry, employee population size, average employee tenure, and other factors. For example, a survey result that seems egregiously low could actually be higher than other companies in your industry. Examining performance gaps between your company and other high performing organizations also gives a glimpse of what your current strengths and weaknesses are, and acts as a springboard for brainstorming and planning improvement strategies.

Internal benchmarking, on the other hand, involves regularly using employee survey results to compare historical data over time. Measuring internally provides a baseline to help you determine whether or not the strategies you come up with from external benchmarking actually make any discernible difference in employee engagement and satisfaction levels. It also provides an overall snapshot of how your company is progressing in terms of employee experience.

Since your goal is to improve the employee experience, you must remember that it differs greatly from industry to industry, company to company—and most importantly—employee to employee. That’s why a combination of internal and external benchmarking is important. Getting a frame of reference from external benchmarking is a great starting point, but internal benchmarking will ensure the improvements you make address your employees’ specific needs.

Benchmarking helps get leadership buy-in for change initiatives

As Scott Lenet writes for Forbes, benchmarking can “provide ammunition to break internal log jams and convince the C-suite that risk can potentially be mitigated when undertaking new initiatives.”

Without benchmarking, you’ll still have statistics from your employee survey feedback to show that employees aren’t satisfied with certain aspects of the employee experience, and you can certainly begin to make suggestions for strategies to improve these aspects. But it’s likely that leaders will feel overwhelmed when presented with data and strategies that come across as risky and expensive, and with no clear way of measuring how those strategies will pan out.

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External benchmarking shows that other companies similar to your own have had success with improving the employee experience. By connecting these improvements to business outcomes that matter to leadership, such as higher engagement and lower turnover, you’ll make an even stronger case for your suggestions. And once you’ve implemented changes, internal benchmarking will provide evidence to leadership that these efforts made a noticeable difference to employees.

As with anything related to employee experience, benchmarking should be a continuous process to account for new technology and trends, evolving thoughts and behaviors, and other changing parts. It’s also important to keep in mind that benchmarking is merely one of many tools you can use to measure, define, and improve employee experience. There are many other aspects of employee experience that require different techniques to address issues and make improvements.

All in all, benchmarking is a powerful and persuasive way to start implementing change. To make real, revolutionary change to the employee experience at your company, it’s time to gain the outside perspective benchmarking provides.

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