HR managers could gain more from benchmarking with other organisations if they moved from a "good enough" approach to one which focused on best practice, according to a benchmarking expert writing in Personnel Today
. A more mature approach can show what is behind employee engagement or absence data and improve performance.
Ray Wilkinson, director of the Best Practice Club, explains the limitations of traditional benchmarking approaches based on comparisons with other employers in the same industry.
"Employers are unable to learn from the benchmarking exercise (because of the way t has been structured) or link improvement interventions with performance. Staff-satisfaction benchmarking is a case in point. Most people are familiar with the large, multi-location, multi-population style of research intended to measure (and compare) levels of satisfaction among a diverse group of employees. How often have you seen these exercises conducted every two years, in the vain hope that a random, unrelated collection of improvement actions taken in the intervening period will improve the performance ratings achieved on an ongoing basis?"
In areas such as staff retention and staff sickness levels HR managers may get asked "why" their performance is lower than other organisations and "how" to improve. But making definitive causal links between interventions and outputs is difficult. HR may just "recommend generic solutions to challenges that are often highly specific to the organisation in question", says Wilkinson. A solution to this, he argues, is best-practice benchmarking.
"This approach involves defining rigorously the process that you want to improve and then identifying best practice that you can adapt for implementation within your organisation. The key is to look for best practice wherever it is, irrespective of the industry or sector involved, delve into the detail of the process to ensure that you understand the root causes of that performance, and then adapt that learning to your own organisation."
Using examples, Wilkinson looks at informal and formal benchmarking and how you can benchmark employee engagement in a way that identifies the root causes of issues and allows HR to manage them better. A second article on benchmarking will be published on Personnel Today next month.
XpertHR's benchmarking service
allows you to benchmark your company's employment practices, policies and performance in areas including pay and benefits, absence and leave, recruitment and retention, diversity and equality and employee relations.
This article is the fourth in a series on using data and statistics more effectively in HR:
Image above from FreeDigitalPhotos.net.