Saturday, November 11, 2006

Best Employer: Best way to Survey…

Genre: HR/Companies/Workspace
Length: Less than 800 words (2 Pages)

I’m nearly one month late in coming up with this post. The November 5, 2006 issue of Business Today speaks of Best companies to work for in India. A BT-TNS-Mercer survey tries to find out India’s best employers.

I won’t replicate the entire survey here. I have made some observations which I wish to share.

Disclaimer: Contents of this post are derived from public domain and/or information meant for release to public domain. No company specific confidential data has been compromised and the views expressed here are that of the writer as an individual, not necessarily of the organization he works for.

1. The survey compares all companies irrespective of headcount under one umbrella. There’s a huge difference in terms of complexity involved in managing people, at a company which has 200 employees compared to one which has 20000 employees.

2. The number of companies covered are very very few. Companies interested in participation were expected to register online, only 131 choose to participate (Page 78 of the magazine). The number of companies in India (with headcount 200+) are several thousand times this number, so several potential best employers were not covered in the survey

3. The contact details of employees who were surveyed, was obtained from the company itself. (Though respondents were chosen randomly out the list given by HR) Now, consider this: If you ask the HR manager of a company:”Give me a list of employees whom I can contact to conduct survey”, any HR Manager who’s sensitive to the importance and impact of such surveys will be careful enough to give contact details of only those employees who are guaranteed to give a positive feedback. (Or he might exercise influence/tempt these employees to give positive feedback). If you need a true opinion, you should ensure that the person being asked for opinion is giving his true opinion, without being under the influence/temptation/fear.

4. Those who are operational for less than 4 years in India are left out of survey. Because they need criteria to eliminate participants this can be justified, but I personally doesn’t believe a company shouldn’t/can’t be in top slot within 4 years.

5. I’m not sure what percentages of employees were covered under the survey. Unless you survey a reasonable percentage of employees (say min 10-15%) you shouldn’t reach to a conclusion about the company which employs 30000 to 60000 people. This rationale is explained below

When working in large organizations, an employee’s perception of the company is framed by his immediate management and his team member. Except a few like HR and Marketing people whose very job involves meeting several people a day, most of the employees work in a small group, with a manager or team above him, few team members and subordinates. How his manager treats him and how comfortable he is within his team will have more importance than what rest of several thousand employees of the company are doing. For example, hardly 10% of the decision the CEO takes in board meeting will have a direct impact on my day to day activity, while over 90% of decisions my manager takes in the team meeting will affect me directly. So if an employee is happy with his immediate management, comfortable with his team and subordinate, he’s happy. If not, if his immediate environment is suffocating, he'll look for a change, irrespective of company reputation or salary.

So within a same company, an individual (say A) who’s got all possible benefits, considerations and courtesies will give a positive opinion, while another one (say B) who didn’t get even the elementary courtesies will give negative opinion. So if you join a company listening to A’s words and happen to get into B’s team, you may not get what you expected. Either you ask several people and take an average opinion or dig deep and find out why an individual is happy/ unhappy.

While getting a rank in top 10 will increase employee morale and spirit, and company can use this survey result to attract and retain talent saying they’re the best employers in the country, I do not believe these surveys are not reliable enough to take a career decision, given the limitations (as listed above). A prospective employee should use his/her own discretion before taking a decision.

Also read- How to leave your foot prints and make others follow it (Humor)


Raveesh Kumar said...

Good one nidhi.

On similar lines surveys conducted for Best Engg Colleges and Business Schools, Colleges in other disciplines lacks credibility.
They choose only metros and big cities. For example in Karnataka, they will only choose Bangalore and no other city. So other institutions get unnoticed.

Shrinidhi Hande said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Shrinidhi,

I agree with you on this...there is no such thing as a "good employer" or "bad employer". What actually matters is whether you have a "good manager" or a "bad manager" to report to!! It actually makes sense sometimes to leave your present employer, and come back to a different division...I have seen people do this and benefit from it. :)


Shrinidhi Hande said...


You're precise to the point...