Best Employer Survey
A survey of 163 organizations carried out by Hewitt Associates and the Barrett Values Centre shows that organizations in the ANZ region are strongly focused on brand image, customer satisfaction and the bottom line, but employees want to see much more focus on employee fulfillment, employee recognition, and balance (home/work). They are fed up with the bureaucracy, long hours and hierarchy. They want to see more adaptability, trust, and coaching/mentoring, as well as a stronger focus on continuous improvement, efficiency, accountability, and leadership development. Despite these expressed needs, employees remain highly committed to their organizations.
The survey of 163 employers was carried out in June, 2008. The best employers were ranked in four tiers: Tier 1 – the top 9 employers, Tier 2 – the next 18, Tier 3 – other employers, and Tier 4 – the worst 20 employers.
Based on Hewitt Associates’ assessment, the level of staff engagement and cultural alignment in each of the four tiers was significantly different.
|Staff Engagement||Cultural Alignment|
Table 1: Hewitt Associates’ Average staff engagement and cultural alignment scores
The Barrett Values Centre’s measures of values alignment and cultural entropy correlated strongly with Hewitt’s assessment.
|Cultural Entropy||Number of matching top ten personal and current culture values||Number of matching top ten current and desired culture values|
Table 2: Barrett Values Centre average values alignment and cultural entropy scores
Shared Positive Values
Employees in all four tiers shared 7 of their top ten personal values, 6 of their top ten current culture values, and 8 of their top ten desired culture values. These shared values are shown in Table 3.
|Shared Personal Values||Shared Current
|Balance (home/work)||Being the best||Balance (home/work)|
|Caring||Continuous improvement||Continuous improvement|
|Commitment||Customer satisfaction||Customer satisfaction|
Table 3: Top ten values shared by the four tiers of employers in Barrett Values Centre’s Cultural Values Assessment
Shared Limiting Values
The most important potentially limiting current culture values shared by all four groups were:
- Long hours
The proportion of votes for each of these four values was significantly different in each of the four tiers.
|Percentage of votes for
Table 4: Proportion of votes for top four potentially limiting values
Characteristics of the Top Performers
The most distinguishing features of the top performers (First Tier) were their focus on employee needs and the employee experience of the company. Table 5 shows the values that were present in top ten of the current cultures of the top two tiers that were not present in the top ten of the current cultures of the lower tiers.
|Tier 1||Tier 2|
|Employee recognition||Employee recognition|
|Balance (home/work)||Goals orientation|
The distinguishing feature of the values of Tier 1, was that they all focused on employees or the employee experience. Tier 2 shared two of these employee focused values, and also had a focus on performance.
Compared to the best performers (Top Tier), the Hewitt Associates’ survey found that the worst performers (Fourth Tier) were most deficient in the following drivers:
- Company reputation
- Managing performance
- Brand alignment
- Career aspirations
- Career opportunities
- People HR practices
The majority of these factors are directly linked to employee needs and the employee experience of the company.
The least significant differentiators of performance were:
- Work life balance
- Sense of accomplishment
Another way of comparing the different tiers is to compare the differences between the numbers of votes for values in the current culture with the numbers of votes for the same values in the desired culture. This type of comparison in the Barrett Values Centre’s Cultural Values Assessment is called a ‘values jump’. Table 5 shows the percentage increase in votes for the values that recorded the highest jumps in each of the four tiers.
|Value||Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4|
Table 5: Percentage increase of the highest values jumps for the four tiers
(1) The score for employee recognition was higher in the current culture than the desired culture showing that Tier 1 employers had mastered this value
The results in Table 5 underscore the significant importance of the focus on employees’ needs and employees’ experience of the company in differentiating the best and worst employers. It also underscores the difficulties that all employers are having in overcoming the limiting values of bureaucracy, hierarchy and control in order to give more focus to continuous improvement and adaptability. These issues are less aggravated in the two top tiers of employers than in the rest.
Business needs Scorecard
The following figure shows a comparison of the top ten current culture values for the best (Tier One) and worst employers (Tier Four) allocated to the Barrett Values Centre’s Business Needs Scorecard. This scorecard focuses on six factors – Finance (focus on money), Fitness (focus on systems), Evolution (focus on innovation), Societal Contribution (focus on community), Culture (focus on employees), and Client Relations (focus on customers). Each dot represents one of the top ten current culture values. The two white dots represent the limiting values of bureaucracy and hierarchy. The figure clearly shows that the major difference between the best and worst employers is their focus on culture. Even though there is a focus on finance in the worst employers this is heavily biased towards cost reduction.
Best Employers Worst Employers
This research based on 163 organisations operating in the Australia/New Zealand region shows that the key differentiating factor between the best and worst employers is the focus on culture, in particular, the focus on employee fulfillment, employee recognition and coaching/mentoring.
It is important to understand the difference between ‘achievement’ and ‘employee fulfillment’.
Achievement was a value shared by all four tiers of employers. It was in the top personal, current culture and desired culture values.
Achievement is about attaining one’s objectives – getting the job done. Employee fulfillment on the other hand, has two added dimensions. It is not only about getting the job done, it also about being able to grow in the process of getting the job done, and most importantly, the job that is being done is meaningful – it aligns with the passions and energies of the individual. We call this meaning-full work or mission alignment.
In the best companies to work for there is a sense of values alignment and mission alignment. This is the most significant differentiating factor between the best and worst employers.
 Cultural Entropy represents the degree of dysfunction in an organization. It is inversely correlated with staff engagement, and represents the proportion of votes for potentially limiting values in the Barrett Values Centre’s Cultural Values Assessment.