Global benchmarks put results from different cultural differences into perspective

Advanced communication methods and social media may be shrinking our world, but certain cultural variation still remains. Amongst the Nordic countries, Finns still rate their superiors’ performance higher than the rest. Austrians and the Swiss believe their superiors are keen on employees’ ideas, while the Spanish and French give lower ratings. In India, people tend to rate commitment to employers higher than anywhere else.

These differences cannot be changed through global exchange programmes or annual meetings with office managers. In order to understand the variations and particularly to put them into perspective, certain benchmarks need to be established. Comprehensive experience and understanding about human behaviour in various cultures is obviously required to create this kind of toolkit for international organisations.

Synchronizing countries and cultures

Corporate Spirit’s benchmark norms are based on extensive global basic research as well as a database of our current surveys, updated annually. In addition to 30 country- and area-specific norms, we have designed precision norms for blue- and white-collar workers, managers and specialists in each country. Combined with our experience of over 25 years and almost 3,000 employee surveys, we are able to provide any international organisation with highly reliable benchmarks as well as knowledge to utilise them for added value.

Doing an international survey and comparing absolute percentage averages of various items between countries will most likely lead to the wrong conclusions, bearing cultural variation in mind. A comprehensive collection of external benchmarks helps scaling results, as well as discovering the real strengths and areas of development.

Nature of work and getting feedback

Besides culture, the nature of work plays a significant role in job satisfaction and engagement variations. Criticism towards excessive information flooding is typical for modern
managers. Work in general is perceived as quite demanding. On the other hand, bluecollar workers are more critical towards reward systems and would appreciate more feedback from their superiors. In general, top management’s evaluations are higher than with other respondent groups.

Various stages at work are evaluated in very different ways. Rewarding and change management get clearly lower points than, for instance, awareness of expectations. Without relevant benchmark material, topic areas cannot be compared with one another.

Benchmarks enable seeing things in a new light

“Our normative benchmarks are based on one of the most extensive international databases of employee engagement surveys available”, says Juha Ala-Lipasti, Corporate Spirit’s Head of International Operations. “They form a reliable frame of reference when evaluating survey results from various countries. Having analysed altogether millions of responses, we’ve found some amazing differences in response styles in different countries – as well as some quite different meanings and values attached to individual questions.”

Knowing these cultural differences, it is difficult to imagine that reliable information could be gained simply by comparing the proportion of favourable responses from one country to another.

Knowing these cultural differences, it is difficult to imagine that reliable information could be gained simply by comparing the proportion of favourable responses from one country to another. If in Spain, for example, half of the respondents tend to respond favourably towards a single question, it may be a very good result in Spanish terms. However, it might be that the same result in Denmark is quite poor compared to similar companies in Denmark.

“An employee survey conducted without any proper normative benchmark could usually be regarded as quite questionable”, Juha Ala-Lipasti continues. “A standard finding would generally be that weaknesses in the employee survey are connected with unsatisfactory remuneration, poor information flow and too little feedback. This misinterpretation often takes place because almost every culture normally judges and values these types of questions more critically than other types of questions. If a survey states that 65 % of the staff dislike the information flow, would that be a good result or perhaps something we should worry about? Reliable benchmarks help determine that.”

Benefits of benchmarks

  • Notable added value for interpretation of results – the average level of  satisfaction varies to a great extent between different types of groups and questions.


  • Fewer interpretations that simply state the obvious – salaries and communication are being criticized, worker-intensive groups are less satisfied in basically all fields of research compared to superiors and management.


  • Relevant comparison of results from different countries – it is absolutely necessary to avoid comparing results from different countries as such. Country-specific benchmark material enables taking cultural impacts into consideration.


For more information about how your organisation can benefit from global benchmarks, contact us!