Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guidelines for Data Analysis of Employee Surveys

All Insightlink 4Cs reports include "quantitative" results, which are the responses to all of the rating scales (such as "extremely satisfied," "very satisfied," somewhat satisfied," "not very satisfied" or "not at all satisfied") in your employee survey, and "qualitative" or "open-ended" results, which are the written comments made by your employees on questions such as what they like best about working at your organization.Some guidelines for analyzing your 4Cs quantitative results are to:

Look for the general patterns and trends in your results and take note of the consistencies (i.e., are the issues raised in the open-ended comments also corroborated in your quantitative results?)

A good starting point is the overall level of job satisfaction at your organization - this single score will have an impact on many of the other measures in your employee survey. Our experience with employee surveys is that organizations should target having an overall "top two box" satisfaction score of 65% because this is the point at which organizations really start seeing the benefits of an engaged and committed workforce.

Remain objective when reviewing your results and avoid analyzing them "defensively." Don't try to "explain" the negative findings away. Rather, it is critical to work to understand what is driving those negative results.

Use the Insightlink industry and national norms judiciously. Remember that benchmark norms are simply "averages," not guidelines, and are useful primarily for giving context to findings. For example, if the overall job satisfaction at your organization is 62%, it is useful to also know that your industry benchmark is 55% and the national average is 56%.

Record both the strengths and the weaknesses at your organization or, if applicable, within your own department, site or functional unit. In addition to addressing the weaknesses, you also need to acknowledge, celebrate and maintain the strengths. At Insightlink, we use "top two box" scores on many of the scale measures as a useful and effective method for summarizing substantial amounts of employee survey data. Here is a useful framework for interpreting "top two box" results:

90% or more = A highly meaningful favorable response 75% - 89% = A very meaningful favorable response 65% - 74% = A somewhat favorable response 35% - 64% = A result that requires further study and context 25% - 34% = A somewhat unfavorable response 10% - 24% = A very meaningful unfavorable response Less than 10% = A highly meaningful unfavorable response This framework is for guidance only. When reviewing your own Insightlink 4Cs employee survey findings, you also need to compare your results with the relevant industry benchmarks. For example, you may not be surprised to learn that overall satisfaction with pay among all employees is much lower than overall satisfaction with their jobs!Analysis of Qualitative/Open-Ended Responses

While open-ended questions provide an opportunity for self-expression, the analysis of such questions is difficult. However, open-ended responses can really help you understand your quantitative Insightlink 4Cs employee survey results.When reading through the comments made by your employees, it is important to look for main themes and to pay attention to the ideas and comments that are repeated, rather than focusing on the outrageous "extremes" or "outliers." Also, watch for good suggestions and specifics to help you better understand your opportunities for improvement and never try to guess the author of a comment or use comments for reprisals. It is essential that all employee comments are and must remain anonymous.

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