How This Small Business Improved Employee Experience by an Incredible 24% in Just 2 Years

Claire Hastwell

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Image: Co-president and CFO, Brandy Amidon and her daughter, Annabelle, in their family-friendly office.

Great Place To Work-Certified™ organizations who have partnered with us over the last couple of years have seen tremendous improvement in their employee experience this year. In fact most of the companies who were Certified in a very trying year even improved in their employee survey results. Their Culture Brief™ revealed why. They went all-out listening and supporting their employees during the most critical times.

Breaking through the barriers amidst the circumstances that befell the Philippines, the Best Workplaces of 2021 stood by their people and provided exceptional support, and in doing so, inspired their employees to work together, support their businesses, and most importantly, support the community and the world.

-GPTW Philippines

 

Employee engagement surveys are a great tool for assessing your company culture, but just collecting the data isn’t enough. To gain real, tangible results in the workplace, you need to dig deep and analyze the “why” behind your survey results.

Creative agency Brains on Fire knew they needed to make a change. Traditionally, agencies have been top-down cultures, and Great Place to Work employee survey results showed this old-school model was negatively impacting employee engagement and trust.

To fix this, Brains on Fire identified the greatest opportunity areas by targeting their lowest-scoring employee experience areas and comparing those scores to the Fortune Best Small & Medium Workplaces™ benchmark. This benchmark is available in the Great Place to Work employee survey.

The company then set up a series of employee feedback sessions to gain deeper insights into the data.

The strategy worked. The company leapt from a score of 74% in 2018 to an impressive 92% in 2020.

Pinpointing opportunities for improvement

Survey results revealed two major categories where employees felt most frustrated: experience of management behaviors and perception of pay. Zeroing in on these factors gave leadership clear direction for their next steps.

Once Brains on Fire knew where they needed to focus their efforts to have the biggest impact on employee experience, they leaned in to understand why.

Using feedback to interpret employee survey data

Leadership set up small meetings, typically consisting of three to five employees at a time, before developing any strategies in response to survey results. These intimate group sizes created a space where everyone had a voice at the table and felt that they were being heard.

Meeting facilitators asked employees about their values and what they enjoyed about their work. They then compiled this information to craft a clear explanation of who Brains on Fire is and what they believe as a company.

“We were very intentional,” says Brandy Amidon, co-president and CFO. “If you want to boil down the reason behind our score increase, I think it’s a result of being intentional about defining our values and the rules we want to live by, not just at work, but in life,” says Brandy. “Now we are able to live out those values on a daily basis and build true trust amongst our team.”

“We Believe In Magic,” one of Brains on Fire’s values, which was conceived after gathering feedback from their employees.

Creating data-driven solutions to employee engagement

Based on employee feedback, the company created a series of “golden rules,” or team values, such as “clear is kind” and “de-escalate versus escalate.”

Brains on Fire also began to roll out changes that specifically addressed their lower-scoring survey responses:

  • They formed a new leadership team, made up of seven people who meet on the regular to make core decisions so employees can be assured it’s not just one person calling the shots
  • They began giving staff more input when it came to onboarding new clients — including the whole client team on client meetings to provide a firsthand understanding of client needs and perspectives, a drastic change from the traditional agency model of the past
  • They clarified the process around pay raises and promotions so employees could set a career path within the company that matched an agreed-upon pay scale, taking the mystery out of the salary conversation
  • They created a sense of kindness and togetherness by celebrating things like birthdays, anniversaries, life events, and new hires

When Brains on Fire surveyed their employees with our Trust Index™ survey two years later – employees scored their experience 18% higher than in 2018. Jumps in employee survey results this drastic are rare.

Having a systematic and continuous way of gathering feedback around the employee experience gave Brandy and her team the data and insights they needed to create a roadmap for affecting positive change.

Overall, the process of analyzing the data has helped the Brains on Fire team be more transparent and vulnerable with one another.

“It’s hard being a leader, because you’re expected to know all the right decisions and have all the answers,” says Brandy. “To open ourselves up as owners and leaders and say, ‘We might not have the best solutions, but we’ll figure it out together,’ has helped us become so much stronger and grow as a tight unit.”

Discover how you can use data to improve your company’s culture with our survey and employee engagement tool.

Claire Hastwell

Author

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces™ in Asia by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2022 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 130,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:
1.  The criteria we evaluate

  •  85% concerned with Trust and Maximizing Human Potential and
  • 15% concerned with everything else

2.  Where the data comes from

  • 100% Trust Index for organizations with less than 100 employees
  • 75% based on the Trust Index survey analytics and 25% based on responses to the Culture Audit for organizations with more than 100 employees.
For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees