This month we’re bringing you some valuable insight from our resident data officer, Nicole Steward-Streng. She’s talking all about how to collect employee data that you can actually use–and how to use actionable employee data to help your team do their best work and thrive. If you have questions about anything and everything data-related, shoot Nicole an email at!

Our employees are the heart of our organizations. They execute on our processes and strategies. They design and develop our products. And they serve on the frontline interacting with our customers and clients. Listening to them helps us understand what they need to do their jobs more effectively. They are, in turn, better able to serve our clients and improve the customer experience. 

We all agree on the importance of employee feedback, but how we collect it and what we do with that information matters. We’re going to share some best practices on how to determine what exactly you want to know from your employees and how to effectively collect that data. Then, stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll let you in on how organizations can actually use that data to inform business decisions. It’s time to stop letting your valuable employee data go to waste! 

From surveys to focus groups, there are seemingly endless ways to go about collecting information about your employees’ experiences at your organization. Before choosing and building a tool, think about what you’d like to learn–for example, are you hoping to capture employee attitudes toward certain ways your organization operates? Or maybe you’re looking for more information about what worked well in a recent project or program. Different tools offer different kinds of actionable information. The table below outlines common employee research methods, when they should be used, the types of questions they answer, and some best practices to consider based on the research strategy. 

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For each of these methods, avoid leading questions and be aware of your own biases in the study design. In order to get an accurate picture of the employee experience we have to make sure that our research design and the analysis of the results remains objective.

Each time you engage your employees in data collection is an opportunity to glean honest feedback and build trust. Always be up front with why you are asking them to participate so they understand not just why you are conducting the research but what you plan to do with the data once you have it. And always follow through–if you collect employee feedback but don’t do anything with it your employees will be less likely to participate in the future.  

For even more effective data collection, include your employees in the research design process. Let them know the purpose of the research and what you hope to do with their feedback. Start small. Ask questions that you can actually act upon. Then show that you are doing something with the data. And don’t forget to communicate what you’re doing throughout the process! Remember, perception is reality–you want your employees to feel the process will result in positive change for them, too.