What does getting an average of 7.2 on a scale of 1 to 10 tell you? Is it good? Is it bad? Well, it depends on what the benchmark is for other organizations that have responded to the same question. Plus how your organization responds to the same question over time.
The benefit of doing surveys frequently in a "pulsing" style is the ability to track results over time. Take our own TINYpulse survey as an example. We regularly ask a question about employee happiness. This not only creates an employee satisfaction benchmark that organizations track over time but also comes in handy when companies need to know how new initiatives or other events affect employee attitudes.
We certainly understand that downward trends can be scary, and it’s easy to fall prey to the "Ostrich Problem," a common behavior where people avoid measuring progress for fear that there may be a negative drift. But organizational changes are bound to make employees uncomfortable and will result in short-term negative sentiments. However, a commitment to measuring trends will let you see just how negative that sentiment is and if efforts to improve that sentiment are actually working.
The same can be true for comparing yourself to other companies. You may fear that another workplace is better than yours, and you don’t want to bring this to light. But once again, that’s the knowledge you need to start righting the course.
A truly robust survey platform includes a benchmark average to let you compare your own results to other organizations while also letting you keep track of your own performance over time. It’s a simple way to determine how an organization stands against other companies while seeing how actions you’re taking are affecting employee sentiment. (Need some ideas about how to prioritize your action plans? See Chapter 16.)
Story: Our client was going through a growth spurt, and employees were being hired at a dizzying pace. He traditionally had extremely positive employee morale but was concerned that the process of absorbing so many new employees into the organization would strain his team.
Fortunately, he was committed to regularly asking his team how happy they were and was able to see this sentiment trend over time:
He was delighted to see that, if anything, happiness was going up. Bringing new people into the organization took some of the heavy workload off of existing colleagues, making them even happier with their roles.
More importantly, he was able to see that this was not a fluke. By benchmarking happiness against other companies, he could see that this was not a universal trend. His organization was experiencing morale boosts that were unique to them alone.