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How do you identify an appropriate workplace study to enter?

If you browse the Times of India Ascent (a popular India based newspaper recruitment reference) for advertisements of major Indian or multinational firms you will notice a slew of awards or recognitions in the messages to attract talent. Mostly in the form of recognitions or logos that spell out the ranking and importance of the award.

These seem to have a positive impact for candidates in selecting an organization to work for and therefore a lot of companies are leaning towards getting on these lists. Internally employees ‘feel good’ working for firms who show up consistently on such rankings.

However making a decision to participate in a certain award or ‘best places’ study is always a tough one and a call between marring or making your employer brand.

Morning ride

In India and going by the recent 2010 Global Workforce Study by Towers Watson it is clear that employees view organizations that have strong ethical, corporate social responsibility and work practices as ideal places to join. However with the recent entry of WorldBlu List of Most Democratic Workplaces™ coined by Indian press as a ‘lucrative’ opportunity there is a great deal of skepticism on the true ‘meaning’ of these awards. There is even a notion that a good PR agency can market and rank you among the top names!

The listing identifies 44 companies worldwide that are truly democratic in their functioning and two Indian firms show up. Is a factor of a) awareness  b) interest in participation?

When I read through the principles and the press clip it seems like the focus is around innovation in employee practices and the key driver is engagement. The terms such as ‘listening’, ‘transparency’, ‘accountability’, and ‘integrity’ and ‘choice’ all sound like a re-hash of what other studies work with too.

I think it makes sense to revisit the objectives to define approaches organizations can adopt.

From my experience organizations enter these awards to:

–          Know their standing in the industry

–          Get recognition that can be leveraged for press and recruitment marketing

–          Give a reason for employees to celebrate their workplace

–          Improve their internal practices

–          Enhance brand image

–          Be seen with the best

So how does an organization go about selecting a workplace survey to be in?

I believe organizations must evaluate based on –

1. Credibility of the organization: What is the agency’s standing in the industry? How many years have they run the study and how sure are you of their data? If it is a fly-by-night operator you stand the risk of doing more damage that good to your brand.

2. Methodology: Some interview employees, some only employers and some do a mix. Others do a 360 degree evaluation with stakeholders. But do you know how large is the sample size and which industries they looking at? Which geographies and demographics do they cover? How strong is the thinking? How robust is the process?

3. Relevance: How closely tied in is the study’s objectives to your organizational goals? If you miss the study will it impact your standing?

4. Agency’s practice: How much does the agency which pitches these studies practice what they preach? Where does it rank with employee engagement? How robust are their employee practices? How many best practices have they implemented?

5. Panel of experts: Do you know who the experts are and what they stand for in the industry? How long have they been involved in such studies?

Let us face it – however much we would like it to be ‘democratic’ the subject of how truly open organizations are will always be debatable if actions don’t match words.

Finally I think it boils down to understanding which way to go – and to me the only way is up on employee engagement. That to me comes with being honest about your intentions as an organization, partnering with your employees, growing them and being a responsible corporate citizen.


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