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Employee Engagement Surveys: using benchmarking to compare your results with other organisations

04 Jul 2017
We’re often asked by our clients how their scores compare to other organisations that we have provided employee surveys for. We’ve been using our own ‘engagement index’ for 13 years now, so we’re sharing some of this insight and looking at some other benchmarking resources that might help you determine how you match up to other organisations.

Providing benchmark scores

As all of the surveys that we conduct for our clients are designed specifically for their own organisation, it would be impossible (and unethical!) to compare scores between surveys to determine if one organisation is ‘better’ than another. However, many organisations do want the ability to be able to rate themselves against similar organisations.  External benchmarking resources can be particularly useful when referring to results which indicate levels of employee engagement, as this has been proven to have a significant impact on employee, and in turn, organisational performance. Back in 2003, Towers Perrin (now WillisTowersWatson) identified the items that define employee engagement:

  • Emotional Items – to determine an employee’s personal satisfaction and the sense of inspiration and affirmation they get from their work and being part of an organisation
  • Rational Items – relating to the relationship between the employee and the broader organisation.

A set of questions were included in the Towers Perrin 2003 Talent Report and subsequently in their 2005 Global Workforce Study to determine employee engagement levels in line with the above items. Inspiring have drawn on this set of questions to create our own ‘engagement index’ and have used these when designing employee engagement surveys for many of our clients, ever since we began providing employee surveys 13 years ago.

Of course, the headings and questions have changed somewhat in more recent Global Workforce Studies (find out more about the 2016 study on the WillisTowersWatson website), however for Inspiring, using our original set of questions as a constant has allowed us to monitor ‘engagement index’ scores over the past 13 years and provide a benchmark for our clients to measure their own results against.

In the majority of our surveys, we use uniform distribution to calculate a percentage figure that reflects the positivity score of each question. From within our engagement index, here are the questions that have resulted in the highest and lowest average scores (as of 30th June 2017) for surveys undertaken since January 2014:

  • I care about the future of XYZ: 84%
  • I would recommend XYZ as a great place to work: 71%

These scores, along with those from our other engagement index questions, provide a useful reference to help organisations put their own results into context, as well as give an indication of what can be achieved by having an effective employee engagement strategy. For those organisations who have undertaken repeat surveys with us, it’s usual for their scores to improve year on year across the engagement index, especially when they have developed and implemented an action plan following their survey feedback. Our engagement index average scores are of course changing all the time as we conduct more surveys in which these questions are included – in fact, over the past 12 months the average overall engagement index score has increased by 0.5%.

Identifying the reasons for high or low survey scores

Having conducted hundreds of surveys over the years, we’ve had the benefit of gaining insight into the trends which affect employee engagement levels within organisations. Here are some of the factors that we’ve found to have had the greatest effect on employee engagement scores:

Higher levels of employee engagement

  • Being people-focused
  • Good communications
  • Opportunities for training, learning and personal development
  • Strong leadership
  • Culture of trust and empowerment.
  • Good work-life balance

Lower levels of employee engagement

  • Lack of communication
  • Organisational Change
  • Workload / staff shortages
  • Poor leadership and direction
  • Lack of respect or concern for non-managerial staff

The effect of pay on employee engagement

Although pay and benefits do not feature in our engagement index questions, perhaps unsurprisingly, research conducted by other organisations suggests that this is a major factor in employee engagement. In the XpertHR Employee Engagement Survey 2015, Pay ranked highest as the most substantial influence on employee engagement, cited by 37.1% of respondents. In addition, an HBR study, published in Human Resource Management Journal earlier this year, showed that performance-related pay was positively associated with job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and trust in management.

Useful Resources

Benchmarking is often confusing, as there are so many surveys and reports out there to consider. If you’re looking for some free resources to help benchmark your organisation externally here are three places which might provide some useful statistics:

The CIPD’s Spring Outlook provides findings from their latest survey and it’s free to download.

The Global Workforce Study conducted by WillisTowersWatson mentioned earlier in our blog is also an interesting read for anyone concerned with employee engagement.

XpertHR offers a free HR benchmark tool to help you find out how your organisation compares on key HR and employment benchmarks.

Team up with Inspiring…

Find out more about our employee surveys on our website. If you are considering undertaking an employee engagement survey and would like more information about our services or would like to chat to one of our team about benchmarking, get in touch on 0800 612 3098 or email us at info@inspiring.uk.com.