As part of our ECI Unlocked programme connecting business leaders across the ECI portfolio, we recently welcomed Bionic’s Chief People Officer, Caroline Edwards to discuss Bionic’s successful 7th place ranking in the Top 100 Best Companies to Work for, and to share what you might not know about the Best Companies process and top tips for those looking to enter. Here is what Caroline had to say:
Firstly, why is it worth doing?
Being recognised externally as a Best Company to Work For is a great way to shout about your company culture and engagement, and it can be a contributing factor in helping you to promote your brand and hire key talent. But the reasons for being part of the survey goes beyond having a successful ranking, it provides a comprehensive way of understanding employee engagement and to benchmark externally against competitors, on a regional, national or industry sector where meaningful change can be made.
The survey results don’t just give you a score, they give you a real opportunity to understand how your colleagues feel about their work and insight to acknowledge opportunities for change to create a happier and more productive team. For example, at Bionic we could drill down into questions such as ‘What would make this a better workplace’ and ‘What can your organisation do to support you at this time’. That enabled us to deliver a direct programme of improvement in response to feedback.
How long does it take to do?
There is total flexibility in when you take the survey, so it can be done when it suits you, and you can take the survey on a quarterly basis. Best Companies only ever take your highest score into consideration for the league table ranking and accreditation.
There are quarterly league tables, with the July-September survey window being for the final league table of the year and the one that is announced at Best Companies Live and giving you the external recognition. While multiple surveys give you the opportunity to understand changes in your employee engagement on an ongoing basis and improve throughout the year ahead, the process is not ‘light touch’, so consider the timing for when you will be able to get the most out of the surveys and action planning.
At Bionic, we made the decision to enter into the survey bi-annually to ensure we took the time to work on the key areas of focus to improve our engagement.
What will it assess?
The process has the flexibility to choose a set of core questions from their bank of 120 questions covering the eight core factors that the survey covers:
- My manager – An individual’s working relationship with their manager
- My company – How much people value the company they work for
- My team – Friendship and support across the workforce
- Giving something back – How the company invests in its people, community, and society
- Leadership – The impact of leadership beyond the boardroom
- Personal growth – Do employees have opportunities to develop and advance
- Fair deal – Do pay and benefits make employees feel fairly rewarded?
- Wellbeing – How do employees feel about work/life balance and the impact of work on their health
What can you do with the findings from the report?
The outputs of the survey should always result in an action plan at a team and company level. They have a great platform that helps you understand the results and many tools as well as support from an Account Manager. The results can be broken down and reported on in many ways ie by job level, function, demographic. The most useful is that there is a set of 15 questions that Best Companies have 20 years of research on to correlate these questions with levels of engagement.
You can’t improve on all eight factors, but you should agree on which ones are important and focus on those. The report includes a SWOT analysis to help you to prioritise the actions for continuous improvement. All companies are upping their game on employee engagement, so you are participating in a more competitive environment and a good score one year might only be average the next (a truth about the survey, but also the hiring landscape at large!)
What resource do I need to deliver it?
To be accredited by Best Companies, you need a minimum response rate from employees on the company survey and also to complete a detailed questionnaire to bring to life examples of your employee experience against the 8 factors. The extent of the survey and the time taken on the questionnaire means that this isn’t a light-touch project. It is an investment requiring engagement from your CEO and Senior leaders, as well as a project team to execute. In our own project team we had various members including Payroll to help set up the data for the survey, a Lead for designing the reports for managers, Internal comms to devise the comms plan and a Marketing or Content writer to complete the questionnaire.
This isn’t a light touch project, or simply a badge on a homepage, but it is a fantastic way to understand, benchmark and improve employee engagement, and that requires investment of both time and cost. For us the benefits have far outweighed that investment, both in terms of how Bionic understand and consistently improve on our employee experience to Create a Great a Place to work, but also in how it helps us to attract quality talent in a competitive market.