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Deciding on the Appropriate Research Methodology

Defining objectives at the outset of the research program also helps to determine the methodology because, to meet the objectives, you will need to consider the following:
  • Are all employees affected and do all employees need to be involved?

  • Will improvement action be required at different levels across the organization?

  • How will managers and employees be engaged in the improvement process?

  • How will awareness of the program, results and improvements be raised among employees?

  • How will the progress of improvement actions be reviewed, monitored and communicated over time?

Quantitative and qualitative research methodologies can both be highly effective in employee research. It is essential, though, to ensure that the correct methodology is used for the type of research being conducted.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is most appropriate when:
  • The research involves relatively small groups of people,

  • You are looking to pursue a subject in real detail,

  • You are looking for the flexibility to move between subjects dependent on how participants respond,

  • You are attempting to determine strength of feeling on a certain subject,

  • You are trying to understand root causes of a feeling rather than just the symptoms of issues,

  • You are trying to seek the connections between issues,

  • You are researching particularly complex issues.

Face-to-face individual interviews and focus groups are the most common forms of qualitative techniques used in employee research.

Quantitative research

Quantitative research is most appropriate when:
  • Large numbers of people need to be included in the research,

  • The research needs to cover a large number of different subjects,

  • It is important to have robust numerical data,

  • You need to have measurable comparison data between different groups,

  • You want to be able to compare performance against other external organizations,

  • You want to identify correlation with other research data (e.g. customer satisfaction data),

  • You want to undertake some form of advanced statistical analysis on the results (e.g. regression or correlation analysis).

Comprehensive employee surveys are the most common form of quantitative employee research. Howver, there are occasions when both methodologies can be effectively combined. For example,you may decide to use focus groups before designing the survey in order to determine the survey content and/or pilot questionnaire. Then you may also want to use qualitative research after the survey data has been collected to better understand the meaning behind the quantitative results.

Robert Gray
Insightlink Communications

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. Research Benefits

  3. Types of Employee Research

  4. Deciding on Methodology

  5. Satisfaction Surveys

  6. Planning for Employee Surveys

  7. Web vs. Paper Surveys

  8. Questionnaire Design

  9. Survey Completion

  10. Analysis and Reporting

  11. Action Planning

  12. Prioritizing Actions

  13. Formalizing Action Plans

  14. Reviewing Action Plans

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