Monday, 29 February 2016

Top Employers and other benchmarks




One of things I've been meaning to post about is Top Employers and other forms of benchmarking.

Top Employers released their 2016 lists of certified organisations a few weeks back and invited me to their swanky dinner at London's Guildhall which was good fun (I'm sitting behind the table sign in the pic above).  

Best Companies have recently released their lists too.  Then there's Great Places to Work - their list's out in April.  Investors in People have their awards in March.  And the lists go on.

So what do companies get from appearing in these lists - other than the engagement benefits of a nice dinner and the recruitment and retention benefits arising from the social proof that you're looking after your people well?

I tried to talk to quite a few of the certificated attendees (let's just call them winners) at the Top Employers do and the main thing I picked up was that it's seen as an opportunity to validate that they're as good as they think they are.

But this only applies if you're sure you want to manage your people in the same way as the awards suggest.  That's not always easy to do - it's easy to develop a standard which is so loose it's no use to anyone (valid but not reliable), or to make it so tight that it's not seen as relevant by many firms (reliable but not valid) or worse, that it encourages them to do things they shouldn't be doing.  That's a particular risk when you apply the same standard globally even though differences in national cultures mean you really need to do different things.

I talked about this with some of the winners at Top Employers too.  They seemed happy that they could tell Top Employers which things they didn't see as relevant and just be assessed on the things which are.  I'm not sure quite how this works, but if it's the case, that seems a good way to square the circle.

Other employers will be happy with the trade-off in validity vs reliability and they might want to engage in process benchmarking ie going to and studying one organisation in-depth.  Or other organisations will trade off reliability vs validity and use something like PwC Saratoga's benchmark dataset to compare their data against lots of other organisations.

There are also other ways to deliver high levels of validity / meaning and the reliability provided by comparing your data with lots of other organisations.  For example Glassdoor's newish Employee Choice Awards (and last year's) provides both high validity and high reliability by enabling a comparison of employees own comments about their employer, without the intervention of an assessor in the process.


Picture credit: Changeboard

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