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Management and HR teams are well aware of the costs of employee turnover. There are times when losing an employee is unavoidable, but for the most part, it is in an organization’s best interest to engage and retain its employees.

Companies have a plethora of tried-and-true practices to draw from when it comes to employee engagement, but a number of organizations fall short of engagement that inspires employees, increases productivity, and gives employees a clear roadmap to their growth and opportunities within the organization.

While there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to employee engagement, there is one thing that ALL organizations can do to create engagement and retention strategies with proven outcomes: ask your employees directly.

To get the type of information from employees that will allow HR departments to create content that is meaningful, it is best to outsource the gathering of information to a neutral third party company that specializes in qualitative and quantitative research and analysis.  As a cost saving measure companies will sometimes try and conduct this research internally, but often employees won’t be as forthcoming if they know that a questionnaire or interview is being internally conducted rather than handled by a neutral party.

With a neutral third-party asking the questions and doing the interviews, employees feel safe to share their insights regarding the status quo and what they would like to see implemented that would engage and inspire. The report generated by an experienced quantitative/qualitative research team provides your organization with feedback that accurately reflects employee sentiment so that programs can be developed that specifically addresses what was uncovered during the research.

Qualitative research is more than an advertising tool

A lot of people may associate qualitative research with advertising. A popular method used is focus groups, where subjects are brought together and asked their opinions and reactions to ad copy, product concepts, or to brainstorm. While focus groups are a great and effective way to gather information from a cross-section of people, qualitative research relies on a variety of other techniques for gathering feedback, including social media listening, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic research.

In the case of gathering employee feedback to develop engagement and retention strategies, in-depth interviews would be the method of choice. Employees would be interviewed, either in-person or over the phone, with an interview lasting between 30 minutes to an hour.  Rather than employee focus groups, using this individual format allows for more privacy and assures employees of their anonymity so they can express their views candidly and openly. Beyond getting richer and more reliable information from employees, using a neutral third-party agency also ensures that there is no bias from the company where the employees work.

With a neatly compiled report based on a cross-section of employees from different departments, management and HR teams can be assured that the programs and practices created from the data presented in the report will gain traction much quicker than creating a program without such input. While there are costs associated with outsourcing the qualitative research, there will likely be long-term savings when content is created that engages and retains employees in meaningful ways.

Is your company undergoing a management shift? Learn more about qualitative research and how it can ease the transition >

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