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Effective research amongst the colleague group can be fraught with sensitivities and practical challenges. Here are some considerations and pointers that might help you through the minefield.
The objectives of the research are always a good place to start.
1. What does the business want to achieve from the exercise?
2. How will the information be used and who needs to work with it?
3. What, if any, are the sensitivities involved?
4. Is the research supported at the highest level?
5. Are unions and/or colleague-representative-bodies engaged?
6. Is this an appropriate time to be conducting research?
7. To what extent can we communicate findings and action planning to colleagues?
Before you reach for the survey design manual it’s always worth asking whether existing information might help answer our questions for us. There’s nothing worse than asking too many questions – or asking questions to which colleagues believe we should know the answers.
If an original survey is required, then your research toolkit contains all the ‘standard’ tools:
– Exploratory interviews.
– Quantitative surveying.
– Appropriate survey analysis and software packages to make it all happen.
Take time to consider whether colleagues will respond well to questions asked by their work peers: Will they be inhibited in any way? Will they speak out honestly and fearlessly? If not, now maybe the time to consider third party professional research assistance.
Right from the very outset communication is central to the success of a survey amongst your colleagues: Participants must be told…
– Why we are doing this and what is involved.
– How confidential (and anonymous) it is.
– The survey details, what’s involved.
– Who the internal sponsor is.
– What will be done with the findings in the short, the medium and the long-term.
– What the response rate is (by Department).
– And finally, after the survey is complete, what actions have taken place because of it.
It must be made clear that analysis is by aggregate only – down to the Department level (and not where Departments are so small that it will be possible to identify individual responses).
It will be important to analyse sensitively by – for example – age, gender, length-of-service, location, department, seniority, etc. Consider separate modules of new joiners, recent leavers, union members, consultative committee members, etc.
Use key metrics (e.g. overall satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, likelihood to remain in the business). Net-promoter-score can be a blunt instrument, but it has a message to tell and might serve a useful purpose.
If possible make use of normative comparisons. How are we doing against:
– UK PLC (consider undertaking a parallel online survey to acquire this data).
– Our sector.
– Our chief competitor.
– Last year’s results.
Liaise with the HR team about action planning. How will the results be communicated, then implemented?
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