Don't worry about the competition.  Focus on your own employees and workplace.Somebody asked me recently if our Employee Engagement program would enable an organization to measure themselves against others/competitors (and admittedly it's not the first time I've heard the 'benchmarking' question in one form or another).

As always, I explained that our program identifies issue and opportunities in certain areas of your organization so that corrective actions can begin in those areas immediately, thus your organization improves as a whole.  

And of course, you get to analyze how each internal team stacks up across our seven key areas of engagement.

But it always makes me wonder why wanting to compare against other (external data) is viewed as so important.

DO NOT get me wrong on this...I fully understand and agree with the proliferation of best practices and if you can 'steal' some of these from successful people and companies then by all means have at it.  

I'm just not sure of the real value of knowing things like;

  • We have much lower staff retention than our competitors
  • The food in our cafeteria is ranked top 10% in our area
  • More of our employees know our company motto than 75% of our competitors
  • Our leadership team is viewed as not valuing employees as much as our competitors

Here's another thing, unless the sampling is of ALL your competitors asking ALL the same questions, how can you really be sure what you are comparing yourself to.  

Don't get frustrated with too many benchmarks but concentrate on your own engagement initiativeFor a case in point, just look at the 'major' organizations publishing engagement statistics each year.  Some say it's getting better, another will say it's flat and others tell us it's getting worse.  What's important is that you realize the importance of improving it regardless of any generalization.

These published findings can make for interesting reading, but if that is your benchmark, at best you are looking at the metrics or averages of a subset of other organizations.  

And because you know you need/want to make changes within your business you start by comparing their outside to your inside... (which is not a good way to kick off an internal improvement process).

The truly great individuals, teams and organizations don't waste time focusing on what everyone else is doing and how they stack up against them.  They focus instead on making themselves and those around them great.  

Do yourself a favor and aim on building engagement at the local level.  Benchmark the smaller pockets of your own employees against your organizational numbers.  That way you can see (for instance) that 'Accounting' is struggling with Difference Management or 'IT' needs to focus on making their people feel more valued.

> > Develop great workplaces from within.  

That way, as each team/department improves and the entire organization becomes An Even Better Place to Work, success becomes a natural by-product.