Standards for Improving Employee Happiness
Our standards serve as the foundation of everything Amazing Workplace does - from Amazing Workplace Certification to Awards. They shape every part of what we do and how we do it. Learn more about how our standards are developed and how they are improving employee happiness everywhere.
Goal Driven Standards
Goals & Purposes Shape Organizations
A company's products, behaviors, beliefs, and desired outcomes are driven by their goals and purposes.
The goal of Amazing Workplace is very different than other companies in our space. Our goal: A world where employees are happy and every workplace is amazing. Implicit in this goal is a belief that every workplace can have happy employees and become amazing.
We work to empower every company to have happy employees and become an Amazing Workplace. Our goal drives everything we do and the questions we ask ourselves every day. Do our surveys and results empower companies to improve employee happiness? Do our surveys and results empower companies to maintain employee happiness? Are we moving toward a world where employees are happy and every workplace is amazing?
Goal: Get Recognized
Top ranking companies are designed to rank your company on a deadline.
Other companies have different goals and beliefs. Top 100 ranking companies have the goal of ranking the top 100 companies in a geographic location. Everything they do as a business is designed around that goal. Their surveys and results are designed to compare scores from one company to another. They are not designed to make a company more amazing. They are based on a belief that only the top 100 scores should be recognized. Scores vary from year to year and the “cut-off” for the top 100 list is also a moving number. There is no standard of excellence because excellence isn't the goal.
Goal: Happy Employees
Amazing Workplace is designed to improve employee happiness and make your workplace amazing!
We realized that the only way to achieve our goal was to create standards. Standards that could be used to help companies improve employee happiness.
Standards that could be used to maintain employee happiness. Standards that could be used to create and maintain amazing workplaces.
Standards are an essential part of making this happen as you'll read more about below.
Importance of Standards
Why Use Standards?
What is a “standard”? Simply defined, a standard is a level of achievement. For example, in school grades are used as a standard to acknowledge a level of academic achievement. An “A” is excellent, while an “F” is a failing grade. A standard provides a fair assessment of achievement.
Workplace awards historically focused on a comparative rankings. There were no standards applied. Rankings were a list of the best scoring companies that showed up on a particular day to compete. There are many concerns with this approach.
No Standards = Inconsistent Results
A lack of standards results in what might be best described as a “popularity contest.” Scores that land a company on a top 100 list in one year may not qualify the same company the next year. A #1 ranking score in one year may be a #10 ranking score the next year. The results are inconsistent because there are no standards to make them so.
The “Top 100” Limit
There are far more than 100 amazing workplaces in most geographic locations. By artificially limiting the “best” list to 100, many organizations fail to get recognized for their amazing workplace. Those that don't score in the top 100 are ignored and fail to get recognized for their amazing workplace.
If the only companies to show up and participate are not great places to work, they still get ranked because they were the only ones to show up. The lack of standards permits false positives - or companies to get recognized for being the “best of the worst.”
A standard was needed to acknowledge amazing workplaces for focusing on employee happiness. This process was an involved one. The following highlights a portion of the effort that went into our standards development:
In order to achieve a set of standards, we needed to work backwards from our goal: A world where employees are happy and every workplace is amazing. Implicit in this goal is a belief that every workplace can have happy employees and become amazing.
Critical Workplace Areas
What exactly makes a workplace amazing?
An Amazing Workplace is one where employees are happy. Making an Amazing Workplace involves a commitment on the part of a workplace. With this in mind, an Amazing Workplace could also be described as a workplace that has made a commitment to improve employee happiness.
To measure, maintain, and improve employee happiness, Amazing Workplace identified areas that are critically important to both employees and workplaces. We describe these as Critical Workplace Areas. While the initial list of areas numbered close to 40, we were able to consolidate this to 12 Critical Workplace Areas.
Pay & Benefits
Learning & Development
Opening the Door
This breakthrough was no small achievement. The 12 Critical Workplace Areas opened the door to solving survey question development. Creating survey questions that yield meaningful results is often challenging. We studied what other survey companies did.
What we noticed quickly was a pattern among other surveys - while survey questions varied from survey to survey, the answers were uniformly the same:
While there are slight variations in the 5 available answers above, with only very few exceptions, thousands of survey questions have the same set of answers available to survey participants. Initially this made sense. Standard answers provide an easy method to add up scores and quickly compare answers to other companies that are answering the same questions.
The goal drives the product created by a company.
Because the goal of other survey company's questions is to rank or compare scores with others taking the same survey, it follows that an easy scoring mechanism was a smart component of their survey design.
A shortcoming became evident though. With fixed answers in place, all questions had to be designed with these answers in mind. This limitation makes it only possible to ask questions that can be answered with the five answers above.
We decided that this limitation didn't positively contribute to the desired goal of empowering companies to improve employee happiness. So, we changed this. We used this freedom to create unique survey questions and answers - both that help achieve the goal of empowering companies to improve employee happiness.
Tying it all together
Better Questions, Better Results
Working backwards (once again), we looked at the 12 Critical Workplace Areas and created survey questions and answers. Once complete, we had over 100 questions and were faced with a startling realization - with over 100 questions, who would start (or finish) our survey?
The only way to achieve the goal is to measure employee happiness.
We then looked at a different approach. While the goal is to improve employee happiness, the only way to achieve this goal is to accurately measure employee happiness. As a result, the survey design should be tailored to isolate how employees feel.
This different focus resulted in meaningful questions to be answered. How do we create questions that are easy to understand and answer?
How do we create questions that, when connected with answers from other questions, have real meaning beyond the questions asked? How do we create a survey that employees want to finish because it is fun? How do we do all of this in under 10 minutes?
Nearly two years later we launched Amazing Workplace's Employee Happiness Platform® and Smart Survey.® Using less than 30 questions, we were able to extract over 500 individual data points directly connected to the 12 Critical Workplace Areas. By isolating topics, questions, and answers most familiar to employees, we were successful in presenting a survey that “made sense” to survey takers, while at the same time, delivering actionable results to workplaces.
Establishing Employee Happiness Standards
We had finally arrived, but we needed to finish what we started; establishing standards. Our standards had to be simple, easy to understand, familiar, and actionable. Most survey companies use a 5 Star rating system. While a 5 Star rating system is used for movies and product reviews, we liked the improved visibility and academic familiarity of a 100-point scale. We also noticed that some of the most popular rating systems use a 100-point scale instead of a 5 Star system. Opinions weren't good enough, so we asked.
We surveyed thousands of employees about 5 Star rating vs. 100-point scales. The results were surprising.
Most felt that a 4 Star rating was the highest that anyone or anything should get; “5 Star ratings were for things that were perfect and nothing is perfect.” This artificially skewed results at a “top score” of 80 (on a 100-point scale). When asked about a 3 Star rating, universally employees said that 3 Stars were okay or pretty good in the context of a survey score. Yet, when asked if they would watch a 3 Star rated movie, the answers were very different with most stating they wouldn't waste their time. We then converted a 3 Star rating to a 100-point scale, a score of 60, and asked if they would apply for a job at a company with a score of 60, the answer was universally “no, that is a D minus.” The problems with the 5 Star rating system were obvious.
After landing on a 100-point scoring system, we created "Score Ranges" that directly align with an employee feeling. They are as follows:
100 - 80
79 - 70
69 - 60
59 - 50
49 - 0
Scores are simply a number that represents how employees feel. Scores fall into "Score Ranges" that align with an employee feeling. For example, the Score Range of 70 to 79 means employees feel happy. A score of 77 means employees feel happy. A score of 70 also means that employees feel happy. A score of 77 is not "better" than a score of 70 because both scores mean that employees feel happy.
It is important to remember that the Score Range of 70 to 79 matters more than the individual score in that range.
These scores represent our standards. If a company scores an 70 this year, its employees are happy and it is a Certified Amazing Workplace. If that same company scores a 70 next year, it will also be a Certified Amazing Workplace. The same will be true 20 years from now.
These standards are used to measure a workplace against itself, not other workplaces. This knowledge lets a workplace focus on improving employee happiness. It also allows it to celebrate those areas that make it amazing.
For our team, these standards help us empower companies to create and maintain amazing workplaces. After all, we believe that every workplace can be amazing.
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