Check Your Measurements - an IR Update


KPIs are all well and good to manage employees but it’s important they relate to consistent and relevant markers if they are to be used to determine overall performance. And the Fair Work Commission has found that using voluntary customer surveys as the measure, doesn’t cut it.

The case concerned a car dealership that requests its clients to fill in a customer satisfaction survey after a service. The questionnaire isn’t specific in terms of identifying particular employees with whom the client may have had dealt.

The employer collects data from the surveys and uses them to rate employees, with scores referred against national performance figures taken from similar surveys countrywide. 

When a Service Advisor was dismissed because his score fell into the bottom half of the ratings, he claimed unfair dismissal and the FWC upheld his case. The FWC was underwhelmed, pointing out the obvious shortcomings of the system to determine the employee’s capacity. For example, not all customers complete a post-services survey. This potentially skews the results.

The company argued that the last survey relating to a job the employee was involved with immediately prior to his dismissal included several complaints. However, the FWC pointed out that even this argument was weak because the survey responses did not deal solely with the employee’s actions, but also those of the technicians and other workers.

The FWC found there to be no valid reason for the dismissal based on the “inherent unfairness in measuring the complete service experience provided to a customer and ranking it against the Service Advisor only, when there may be many and varied reasons unrelated to a Service Advisor’s duties as to why a customer provides a low score”.

This case warns of the need for performance guides to be based on measuring activities and attributes an employee can actually influence, that relates to them. The collective nature of this scheme here looks fair on the surface, as all employees are rated and scores averaged, but the inputs were too broad to make the ratings the benchmark on an individual basis. 

The FWC was unimpressed that an employer would rely almost entirely on the surveys to determine if an employee was performing. It ordered 10 weeks’ pay in compensation.

Mr Kris Brennan v ASG Brisbane Pty Ltd T/A Audi Indooroopilly [2019] FWC 7630 (6 November 2019)

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