Guest post by Melanie von Hartitzsch – People Geek at Culture Amp
Picture this. Two 400m sprinters competing head-to-head in a national championship race. One from a popular athletic club and one from a city based corporate team.
The athletic club meets regularly to train and has an enviable culture. Club members feel part of a community, have a voice and are working towards a shared vision to be recognised as national leaders. However, the corporate team is not the same. Although their athletic team is full of talented individuals, team structure is fragmented. There is no forum to voice opinions, no dedicated training regime and no recognition after competitions. Comparing apples to apples, we have two individuals with similar skills and experience but from different environments. Despite a shared goal to win, team culture is the competitive edge the athletic club has, and the corporate team lacks. It’s what motivates any team to do their very best, develop and grow.
Even if the corporate athlete wins, his team did not set him up for success. Is this really a sustainable strategy to rely on in the long-term? Team members need to feel as though their individual contributions matter and feel recognised. Listening to your employees is vital, and this is why Culture Amp believes in using employee feedback for continuous business improvement.
Our CEO Didier Elzinga often says that,
“brand is a promise to your customer, and culture is how you deliver on it”
We truly believe that organisations who collect, understand and act on employee feedback have a competitive advantage by putting culture first.
At the heart of any team, or organisation, lies its people. In the employee feedback space, there’s a lot of hype about linkage – and for good reason. This is the ability to link data from your people surveys to broader business outcomes. It’s an effective way to demonstrate to leaders that looking after your people, and in turn – your culture, does deliver tangible business benefits, like improving your customer engagement.
In a recent article by our Chief Scientist Jason McPherson, he discusses how linking data from your people surveys can help to continuously improve your business outcomes. I’ve summarised his key takeaways below.
Linking feedback to business priorities
Linkage is when the rubber hits the road with employee feedback. It makes real connections between your business objectives and employees’ experience in your organisation. For example, by demonstrating a link between training perceptions and sales performance in a particular division, a case can readily be made to invest in training across the entire organisation. This scenario recently played out in my team at Culture Amp. As a result, our VP of Sales redistributed budget so that every member of the global sales team could go through new sales training. As a result, the team is more aligned and placed to achieve our targets moving forward.
Previously it was incredibly expensive to apply statistical techniques on large datasets to make these linkages. Now we have tools that can enable people in almost every company to do this if they set their mind to it.
Some of the classic things that we’re seeing clients link to employee feedback are churn and retention rates. This allows organisations to look at the type of experiences or structural things that lead people to leave. We have consistently seen good linkages in this area.
We have also have seen strong connections between engagement levels and customer satisfaction, particularly in call centres or other parts of an organisation where there is a direct relationship with customers. If people are engaged and motivated in a call centre that is typically reflected in a better customer experience.
While linking employee feedback to outcomes can be powerful, it can also be incredibly complex. If there are hidden variables that we can’t accurately measure it can be difficult to show an association between the people side of things and the outcome. That’s why it’s important to be realistic and understand that some things are potentially outside the sphere of what you can measure or model.
In other scenarios, you can deploy some causal factors into your model.
– If you’re looking to grow in a particular country, you can control for how long you’ve been in that market.
– When you’re looking at sales growth that is enabled by training, you may need to take into account the size of people’s territories.
This will make your model more robust and help you get a better return from your analysis.
Is your linkage relevant?
When choosing your variables it’s also worth considering if the linkages you’re making matter to your organisation. For instance, we worked with one organisation looking for linkages between the wellbeing of their people and workplace performance and retention. They added a variable that considered the level of social support that someone had outside of the organisation.
Interestingly, the analysis found that people with strong social support were more likely to leave the business. But this linkage didn’t actually help because they couldn’t reduce the amount of social support a person had outside of the business (and wouldn’t choose to do so even if they could).
Getting started with simple linkages
Although linkage analysis can get quite sophisticated it isn’t always necessary – we often use machine learning techniques such as Random Forests for example.
We’ve often seen our customers identify key linkages by simply getting the right data together and uploaded into their feedback dashboards. This allows some straight-forward but powerfully simple linkages to be seen quite dramatically.
A common example is when an organisation tracks which employees have exited over time and then uploads this as a simple flag in previous feedback surveys. It clearly highlights areas in which exiting employees were having their most negative experiences – which is quite a powerful guide to help with retention.
In the screenshot below you can see a simple heatmap. This shows how employees who have subsequently exited the organization were having negative experiences associated with Innovation.
About Culture Amp
Culture Amp helps you make your company a better place to work. By making it easy to collect, understand and act on employee feedback, we enable HR leaders to make better decisions, demonstrate impact, and turn company culture into a competitive edge.