Big brand or boutique? Who’s better placed to help you measure up?

Big brand or boutique? Who’s better placed to help you measure up?

Being serious about employee engagement, customer satisfaction and driving revenue and profits means regular monitoring. The easiest business indicators to monitor are outcome measures – for example those which tell organisations how much they’ve sold and earned. These quantify the result of all the hard work carried out.

But the essential activities that drive those outcomes are much harder to measure: leadership perception, organisational culture, employee motivation, levels of trust and employee pride (in the business, its products and its practices). This involves asking for employees’ views and feelings – normally by means of a survey.

When it comes to choosing the right survey provider, the stakes are high.

When it comes to choosing the right survey provider, the stakes are high. In order to track like-for-like trends over a period of years, businesses could be looking at a long term commitment and a significant financial outlay. So what are the options?

Most well-known research consultancies offer a suite of standard survey questions from which clients can select an agreed number. Benchmarking data is supplied by company size or industry sector, and a final report is delivered, with graphs and charts for easy analysis, alongside recommendations for next steps, and sometimes even industry league tables showing overall results.

This off-the-peg approach should be cheaper than commissioning your own bespoke solution, you might think. Surprisingly, though, these standardised surveys from big name organisations do often come with a hefty price tag. That’s because the pricing model is often related not just to the work required to carry out the survey but to funding the provider’s own research programmes. As in other industries, high pricing can also be used as a marketing device to drive up perceptions of quality. But more expensive doesn’t always mean better.

What, then, is the alternative for organisations who really want to discover what their employees think, so they can make changes that really benefit employees, customers, shareholders and other stakeholders?

‘Value for money’ means data that is immediately useable.

At DRIVE we favour a personalised approach. We start with the simple question ‘What are you trying to measure, and why?’. Our clients are often surprised by this question, and reply ‘Employee engagement, of course’. That is the most obvious answer, but it assumes that employee engagement means the same in every organisation and therefore must be measured the same way. That’s not true.

Engaged employees identify with the specific strategy of the organisation and with the leaders who create it. They support the business goals, and are excited by the visions behind both current initiatives and change programmes. They are motivated to help achieve the desired culture. They actively support the chosen approach to all customer-facing interventions. Crucially, they feel an emotional connection to the organisation.
The majority of standardised surveys give some insight into these aspects, but not at a deep enough level to allow organisations to really understand the root of either positive- or negative-scoring areas. So despite having paid a high price, companies can be left none the wiser as to how to respond. Too often clients show us the results of such surveys and complain ‘We knew all that already!’.

We believe that a survey should tell the business exactly what it needs to know, to put in place the few, highly relevant actions that will make the real difference.

Our experience shows that the more time spent getting the survey exactly right for each client, the better. We don’t believe we’re giving value for money unless the data is immediately useful and useable. The one-size-fits-all products from big brand companies might sound convincing, but perhaps the tailored approach from a boutique service can give you just what you need, at a fraction of the price.

Written by Anna Vorster, Director