High Performance Working: Developing a survey tool

Bates P, Cox A, Robertson-Smith G, Garrett R | Evidence Report 41675 | UK Commission for Employment and Skills | Aug 2009

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The aim of this project was to develop a common, longitudinal, employer-based survey tool on high performance working (HPW) capable of providing results comparable by: nation, sector, size of firm and organisational strategy.

This is needed because the UK evidence base has suffered deficiencies in the past around the issue of more effective skills utilisation and organisational performance.

There are few large-scale, representative, economy-wide surveys in the UK. Research tends to concentrate on the most successful, large employers and to focus on best practice. There is limited cross sectional analyses (eg sector, size, geography) to show how practices differ amongst firms of varying characteristics. Few longitudinal data are available on HPW and organisational performance, which might (a) more effectively identify any causal link between skills and the bottom line and (b) precisely understand ‘what is driving what’.

This study involved:

  • developing a model to capture the causal processes between organisational contextual influences, such as product market strategy, culture, choice of technology, selection and implementation of HPW practices, employee perceptions of their implementation and their impact on employee performance outcomes
  • undertaking a scoping review to identify key unanswered questions concerning skills utilisation and HPW
  • evaluating existing surveys to identify design implications for a new survey and developing a detailed series of questionnaire modules.