Why every employee survey should be a custom survey

Here's a question.  Is a Company more like a fingerprint or a benchmark?

Once you move through the thought that this is a crazy question, humor me for a bit whilst we look at it in a bit more detail.

What is a benchmark?

The world of Business loves a good benchmark.  They are normally collected by Companies selling services to other Companies, and are used as a way to differentiate.  They are often interesting, because it is the actual statistics from actual companies that have volunteered to have the microscope placed over their businesses.  It is an aggregate, an average, which is often then dissected into various demographic items such as company size, location, industry, and probably even a few other things.

And who wouldn't want to know how their company is going compared to the competition.

What is a fingerprint?

Um, of course you know what this is.  The point is that whilst all fingerprints look the same, they are actually unique to every individual on the planet.  There are many criminals who would love this to be different, but it is the fact.  Just like gravity, you can wish it was different, but it is what it is.

So, is a company more like a fingerprint or a benchmark?

Every company is slightly different.  No matter how much you wish it to be true, Companies can be identical, but they are never the same.  And this means that to compare two companies is to compare them on characteristics that may or may not play a role in their performance results.  How often does a Company's location or industry really matter to their performance?  It is more about optics than reality (IMHO).

Fingerprint thinking

If every company is different (and they are), then it would follow that standard approaches to measuring company performance can never really hit the mark.  What is important to one company, or employee for that matter, may or may not be the same as another.  Fingerprint thinking is better than benchmark thinking.

And herein lies the value of the HR consultant.  rather than relying on standard approaches which can probably be purchased off the shelf, the valuable consultant will customize their approach.  They will customize their surveys, and they will treat each client as it should be treated - a new bit of work with unique characteristics.

And this is why every survey should be a custom survey!