How to use benchmark data

At Friday, we always tell clients it is more useful to create your own happiness trends than to rely on benchmarks. With regular measurement you learn what your team or organizational average is and how to affect it. And this is what will ultimately determine how your organization improves and sustains its work culture.

If you want to use data on how employees in other companies and industries score on happiness to contextualise your own results, here are some tips to make the exercise useful:

  1. Use benchmark data to identify your organization’s strengths. Most companies we speak to is quick to dismiss high scores, saying they are not much of an achievement. Green lights may seem easy to come by, but trust us when we say they are not. Comparison with industry sector averages can help you to see and celebrate how you stand out as an organization.

  2. Use benchmark data to check any scores that surprise you Sometimes it’s useful to contextualise the feedback employees give. When a score feels surprising, it’s possible your data is affected by wider trends in your sector or economy influencing how employees feel. If we take Be Fair as an example, expectations around work-life balance and respect at work have changed significantly over the last couple of decades – and to differing degrees in different countries, sectors and company types.

  3. Know the limitations of benchmark data Friday calculates three benchmarks, rather than one, because there isn’t one ‘true’ comparator group for your organization. You can compare size of organization, but does the size of an organization really tell you about the diversity of its job roles or its work locations? You can compare yourself to the sector you belong to, but what does this really tell you about your organization’s unique identity and culture? The worst way to use benchmark data is to treat it as gospel – a goal to always strive for, or a score to ignore if you score higher than the benchmark. Instead, use benchmark data as you would a compass: to know you are headed in the right direction.

A simple rule of thumb for using benchmark data is to say: Look outwards to see patterns. Look inwards to set goals.

Learn more: Selecting your benchmarks The benchmark variables How the benchmarks were calculated