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What is it about really great places to work? Why do they stand out?

September 13, 2010

Last week we reported survey findings to four separate clients. Two received excellent feedback, and the response rates were very high. In the other two cases the feedback was mixed and the response rates were under 60%, leaving the relevant management teams feeling a little disappointed. What were the differences between these organisations? And what can we learn from them?

The first and most obvious difference was that the low responding businesses were conducting their first ever engagement surveys. Both had invested substantial time and effort in pre-survey communication (without it no survey can ever succeed), but a substantial number of employees had decided not to participate, perhaps because they lacked confidence that there would be any active response to the survey findings. This is a very common - indeed it happens in most organisations. But if there is a clear and concrete report and follow up plan, well communicated to the workforce, it's almost certain that future response rates will improve significantly.

The second and more fundamental difference is that the higher scoring organisations have the subject of engagement way up high on their corporate agendas. From the leadership group downwards, each team of managers is tasked with achieving specific targets set in an engagement index. Engagement is as much a topic of attention as is customer satisfaction and retention. Team members are performance managed on their results. There are full and detailed reports to employees on progress.

The third difference is that employees in the best organisations do report that - although they may have specific concerns, they do feel more connected to the the business and their colleagues within it. They are much more likely to want to stay than leave and would miss working there if they did for any reason have to depart.

Engagement is woven into the fabric of the business and it's in the hearts of their people.

It's probably no surprise to learn therefore, that these businesses are much more successful at what they do.

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