How To Get More Value Out Of Your Employee Engagement Survey: Part 3

Insightful Reporting

A well-designed and cleverly analyzed survey is an essential foundation for any organization serious about using HR analytics to create actionable business intelligence.  [See our August newsletter and September newsletter for “how-to” check-lists.]

But the survey isn’t enough!  You also need to work to make it easy for busy leaders and managers to understand the results – especially the specific actions your survey indicates will drive both improved employee engagement and better business results.  Make sure leaders don’t have to sort through piles of data and graphics to figure it out (or worse yet, to guess).

We’ve identified 5 principles to help ensure the reporting of your survey results will serve as a positive catalyst for change in your organization.

1.  Focus on quality of insight, rather than quantity of data.  This is the “art” of analytics that makes the “science” understandable, compelling, and actionable.

2.  Avoid focusing too much attention on rankings of highest- and lowest-scoring survey items.  Instead, report findings from the statistical analysis that links employee survey questions to both business outcomes and employee engagement.

3.  Create highly visual, analytics-enhanced, mass-customized reports for managers pointing them to the most important actions they need to take, based on the specific results for their group.

4.  Put detailed data tabulations in a well-organized appendix (avoid indecipherable data dumps).

5.  Use a succinct, well-written narrative to “tell the story.”

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The Smarter Annual Report: Part 2


There is a movement underway to improve annual reporting to stakeholders, and in particular the provision of better human capital information.  (See our November newsletter for a discussion of what’s happening and who’s behind it.  You can download a copy of The Smarter Annual Report here.)

While this development represents a major opportunity for HR, it also creates a danger that HR will be unprepared and have nothing to contribute except a long list of unrelated human capital metrics that don’t tell a coherent story.

We propose a simple model that helps give structure to the story of the role human capital plays in mitigating risk and creating value for an organization:

Steps You Can Take

To benefit from – and avoid being blindsided by – the emerging demands for insightful human capital reporting, you can begin with the following steps:

  • Assemble the right team to work on the report, reflecting different types of performance (non-financial as well as financial); in particular, the CHRO should be involved.
  • Create a rough narrative about how the organization creates value. This can include a strategy map, list of key strategic issues, list of key risks, materiality map, or some combination thereof. The point is to develop the narrative before presenting metrics.
  • Let the value creation narrative guide your selection of which factors to focus on. Be sure to always combine evidence (such as metrics) with insight (“this is what the evidence indicates”).
  • Include the standard metrics that are expected (e.g. by GRI) even if they are not part of the core narrative. (For these it is not essential to interpret the data.)
  • As you move forward, be realistic about whether the metrics you want are available.
  • Work to improve your internal human capital reporting in anticipation of increasing pressure to improve your external reporting.
  • Have a candid discussion on how you will handle bad news, such as falling scores on an important metric.


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Where Does Human Capital Fit in the Sustainability Agenda?


My new article in the May 2014 issue of the Cornerstone Journal of Sustainable Finance and Banking explores new research (with David Creelman and Andrew Lambert) on the progress some companies are making in reporting human capital metrics in their integrated reports.

While encouraging that a growing number of firms are beginning to disclose more information on elements of human capital, it’s clear that most of the disclosures still fall short of providing a comprehensive look at what’s creating or destroying value on the people side of the business.  Indeed, many key human capital measures known to predict future performance (employee engagement, training investments, internal promotion rates) are being reported by less than half of even those companies integrating financial and human capital reporting.

I propose a framework that CEOs and Boards of Directors can use for two purposes:

  • To measure and manage six key elements of human capital risk
  • To serve as a foundation for communicating more effectively with investors

Curious?  Check out the article for full details.

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Center for Talent Reporting


If you’re not already aware of it, I’m excited to call to your attention the Talent Development Reporting Principles (TDRp), an important initiative to bring internal reporting standards to the human capital industry. This effort began two years ago as an industry-led, grass roots initiative led by industry thought leaders and practitioners. Significant progress has been made and hundreds of organizations, including consultants and vendors, are now adopting TDRp.

The nonprofit Center for Talent Reporting (CTR) was created in 2012 as a long-term home for TDRp.  (McBassi is a founding sponsor and I’m a member of the board of directors.)

TDRp measures and reports have been developed for all key talent processes including:

Learning and Development
Leadership Development
Talent Acquisition
Performance Management
Capability Management
Total Rewards

Outcome, effectiveness, and efficiency measures are available for each process along with sample statements and reports suitable for program managers, department heads and senior leaders.

TDRp workshops have just been announced for 2013. Dave Vance and Peggy Parskey from the Center will conduct a hands-on, two-day workshop covering all elements of TDRp including assumptions, principles, types and definitions of measures, and creation and use of statements and reports. Dates and locations for the first three workshops include the following:

February 14-15, Denver, CO
March 26-27, Irvine, CA
April 29-30, Alexandria, VA

TDRp Certification for individual practitioners and software as well as TDRp Accreditation for adopting companies and consulting organizations will also begin in 2013.

More information about TDRp, the Center, workshops, and certification is available at the organization’s website or by contacting the executive director, Dave Vance.

Update on Talent Development Reporting Principles


Here’s an update about recent developments on Talent Development Reporting Principles copied (with permission) from an email sent by Kent Barnett (CEO of KnowledgeAdvisors) to a group of individuals who have been involved (to varying degrees) in their creation:

CLO Symposium Luncheon: We have an invitation-only TDR luncheon scheduled at the CLO Symposium on October 12th from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm.  The event is targeted for senior learning executives to learn more about TDR.  CLO Magazine will be promoting it starting next week.  Tamar [Elkeles], Dave Vance, Carrie Beckstrom and I will be there.   There is no cost to attend.  If you are attending the Symposium and interested in joining us, please let me know.

Major Accounting Firm Support: Deloitte and KPMG have committed to implementing TDR.  Terry Bickham from Deloitte is leading the effort at Deloitte to explore offering an internal audit service.

ASTD and SHRM Support: Dave Vance and I had a great conversation with Tony Bingham who expressed complete support for the initiative.  ASTD is incorporating TDR in some of its certification programs.  Dave and Tony will be working together to expand its support.  Laurie Bassi’s initiative at SHRM to get a FASB for Human Capital investments is moving ahead nicely.  Dave and I are part of that initiative which ties in perfectly with TDR.

Leadership, Onboarding and Sales Training Programs: Several KnowledgeAdvisors clients are incorporating TDR in their strategic programs.  With their help we have developed automated solutions for statements, scorecards, dashboards and executive reports based on TDR but designed specifically for Leadership, Onboarding and Sales Training.  There is growing demand to apply TDR for customer education, IT and customer service.  We will be building out those capabilities in Metrics that Matter as well.

Implementation Expansion: The following leading organizations are participating as a group in the next round of implementing TDR: ExxonMobil, Booz Allen, KPMG, Air Products, Pepsi, Newell Rubbermaid, Caremark, Sprint, Merck and JetBlue.  As Tamar mentioned on the Executive Council call, please continue to promote this initiative and help spread the word!

Next Phase: Dave and I expect to have Phase 2 of TDR finished by the end of the year.  At that point we feel the L&D component will be sustainable and continue to evolve.  We will begin Phase 3 at the beginning of next year where we will be focusing on the broader Human Capital components including talent, performance, leadership, onboarding and engagement.  I will reach out to each of you to see if you would like to remain active in Phase 3.  I know some are only interested in L&D and some of you are interested in all aspects of talent management.

Talent development reporting principles


The absence of standardized metrics has long plagued the learning and development (and HR) profession. 

Standardized ways of measuring and valuing investment processes and resulting value creation would help L&D professionals up their game and bring a new accountability to the function. 

That, in turn, would increase the centrality and ultimately the effectiveness of learning – improving outcomes for employees, employers, and shareholders. 

To help move the ball forward, a group of high-level L&D professionals – convened and supported with the assistance of Knowledge Advisors – has just released Version 1 of the Talent Development Reporting Principles (TDRP):

  “The hope is that this standard framework will be broadly adopted with common terminology and measures, which in turn will contribute to a greater understanding of successful practices and meaningful comparisons across organizations. Our inspiration is the set of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which have been used by the accounting profession in the United States since 1973 to provide consistency, clarity and uniformity in the analysis of the financial well-being of organizations. The data produced using these principles can then provide a solid foundation for analysis, just as the data produced by accountants according to GAAP provides the foundation for financial analysis.”

Human capital and Form 10-K


I have been appointed as the workgroup lead on a SHRM/ANSI taskforce that is charged with developing American National Standards for improving reporting about human capital on Form 10-K (the annual report that all publicly traded firms in the U.S. must file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission). 

This workgroup is a part of a larger effort that SHRM has launched to create standards for the HR profession.  When the standard has been established, we intend to submit this document to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) for consideration.

This is, for me, a very exciting development since I have long advocated for improved reporting on human capital.  It would have important implications for the HR profession and, perhaps more fundamentally, has the potential to change how people are managed and developed.

 The group’s work will be guided by the following questions: 

  1. What does the existing knowledge/research base tell us?
  2. What can we learn from other groups working on this?
  3. How do we make the standards stick by understanding the perspective of the parties that will be impacted?
  4. What specific human capital information should be included in Form 10-K?

If you have perspectives or advice that you would like to share on any of these questions, I’d be delighted to hear from you.  Please feel free to post a response or to contact me directly.