Employee Data Collection: Are You Driving With Your Eyes Closed?

What’s driving your employee engagement strategy? With luck, the opinions and feedback from the very people at the heart of your business. But how can you be sure that you’ve truly captured everyone’s opinions. Of course you’ll never get everyone to give you their tuppence worth. And not everyone will be entirely transparent. But you can get as close as possible if you pick the right method. And that’s online.

The value of any form of survey or audit is entirely in its output. Investing time and resource into anything less than the most wide reaching, efficient, predictive, and accurate process will deliver substandard and incomplete data, which in turn will give rise to some pretty questionable conclusions. To steal a quote from Blackadder, gathering misrepresentative or limited data from your team is ‘like fitting wheels to a tomato; time consuming and completely pointless’.

The fact is that, whether you’re looking to address employee engagement issues from the wider populus, delving deep into the dynamics of your leadership team, or squaring up to the real reasons why your leavers are jumping ship, you’ll need all the honest feedback you can get. You need answers to specific questions. And to get to those answers, you need substantive data and feedback from a significant and diverse enough section of your respondent group to tell you what you need to know. You need data that influences solutions. And, above all, you need solutions to the right issues. Otherwise, you might as well be driving with your eyes closed.

So what’s so special about online data collection? In short, it’s shown to be more predictive, accurate, economical and efficient. Take Brexit: if the referendum polls proved anything, it’s the predictive powers of online surveys. Throughout the run up to the UK referendum the polls showed a significant gap between those conducted by phone and those conducted by internet. And (no prizes for guessing) the internet polls won the day, persistently putting the two sides neck and neck, predicting small leads for Leave. By contrast, the phone polls placed Remain in the lead, at times by quite significant margins.

Let’s explore where the value lies in online data collection.


There is literally no other method of data collection that can reach so far, so fast. If you want to target an employee base of, say, 5000 people (potentially spread across multiple sites, or even globally distributed), the internet is the obvious means by which to do so efficiently.


Technology; it’s a double-edged sword, really. The busier life gets, the more we need technology to deliver convenience and efficiency. And the more productive we become as a result, the more we continue to pack in to our already hectic daily schedules! That, however, is firmly the way of the world these days. So, when it comes to employee surveys, you’ll be swimming against the tide if you don’t place them online. Pick the right online tools (ones that are SMS and smartphone enabled), and they can be completed anywhere, any time, at the respondent’s convenient. Thereby standing a far better chance of actually being completed.


Opinions are like belly buttons; we all have them. But only the most self-confident (if not always the most self aware!) are prepared to expose them. And, where opinions are concerned, brutal honesty doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Whether hindered by a fear of the consequences, a deep-seated concern not to offend, or just a general compulsion not to ‘make a fuss’, for many people it is just easier to maintain a resigned acceptance when things aren’t altogether tickety-boo. Yet, these anxieties seem to dissipate substantially when anonymity is introduced. According to SmartSurvey, ‘researchers have found that participants overwhelmingly prefer to complete online surveys rather than take part in written questionnaires or telephone interviews and usually provide longer and more detailed answers … People tend to feel far less ‘exposed’ online’.


When completed online, questionnaire responses are entered directly by the respondent. And, whilst human error cannot be completely eradicated, this does significantly reduce the risk of inputting errors, when compared against one bored data entry assistant compiling tons of repetitive data supplied from multiple respondents. In addition, of course, respondents are also not subjected to (and led by) any unconscious signals given out by the researcher in face-to-face interviews (e.g. voice intonation, facial expressions). Nor is there scope in an online questionnaire for data to be ‘massaged’ or ‘spun’ in such a way as to influence the results.


Most online tools combine a mix of drop down choices (which are easier to code for analysis) alongside free text responses. Responses are analysed as they come in, and the technology behind online surveys allows for on-going real time analysis, as well as extracting and comparing data in multiple ways.


The very obvious economical gain with online data collection is in time and resource. There is no comparable choice when it comes to efficiency and cost. There is no requirement for costly face-to-face interview time, recording equipment, postage costs, telephone charges, or lengthy data entry. Online data collection is the prudent choice for small businesses with limited resource capacity, and for larger businesses needing to reach out to a wider and more geographically disparate workforce.


We’re an impatient bunch these days. There’s not much that can’t be turned around close to instantly. It’s that technology thing at play, yet again! The same goes for data collection. These days, barely any business is conducted via ‘snail mail’. There certainly isn’t a business case for it when it comes to employee data collection, because, carried out online it is not only cheaper, but it takes a third of the time compared with traditional methods. Results come in instantly, and analysis occurs immediately in real time, meaning you can put the resulting data to use far more quickly.

Engaging effectively and meaningfully with the people in your business is fundamental to operational efficiency, productivity and organisational achievement. It’s a crucial ingredient within the winning formula that makes up every successful business.   It doesn’t have to be burdensome, time consuming or even costly.

For a more detailed overview of how we can help unleash the potential of your people through our online engagement and assessment tools, contact us at www.greatwithtalent.com

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