How To Best-Practice Market Research Techniques For Internal Surveys

Employees are people and people have behavioural trends that are nearly always irrational. Consider your employees as your target market with unmet needs. Market research companies have been addressing this situation for decades. Here are some ways that your company can learn from the market researchers to readdress staff challenges.


1. Know your market

Before you do anything, you need to know who you are targeting. Segment your staff by their life-stage as well as their demographics. For example, how many new mums do you have? How many empty nesters, new expats, and those whose direct family live in their home country? Your segmentation should represent their unmet emotional needs.


2. Define the issue

A challenge that is half-defined is a challenge half-resolved. If you know what the problem is, can you define it and its impact specifically and clearly? If you do not know what the problem is, then that’s your starting point right there. You cannot deliver customer satisfaction if you don’t know what their needs are. The route you take next is completely dependent on having this clarity.


3. Create your goal

Once you know what the issue is, you can start devising your outcome. Where do you want to be in relation to the current situation? How will you know that you have achieved it? What tangible evidence will indicate success? For example, the UAE has a plan to reduce the number of deaths caused by road traffic accidents to three people per 100,000 population by 2021. The number in July 2017 was six deaths per 100,000 people. This is a very tangible and specific goal. It’s measurable with evidence to indicate the current position against achieving the target.


4. Set your time parameters

Based on your problem and desired outcome, develop a project plan to allocate resources, involve stakeholders, plan communication and schedule milestones for execution. Devising a plan enables you to walk through a project in advance which allows you to predict scenarios and speed up implementation. It also provides clarity to all involved, smoothing the path ahead. Your plan works like a GPS app, so you can identify and navigate routes around traffic to reach your destination within your targeted timeframe.


5. Not all data is equal

Before you conduct the survey, differentiate between data that is necessary and data that is interesting but not useful. Keep to the minimum number of questions required to give you accurate insights. Ensure that the amount of data to analyse for insights is not too huge to be helpful (analysis paralysis); and, that the accuracy of data in the responses would not be too low as to induce responders’ survey fatigue.


6. Ask and deliver

Only ask questions about aspects or issues that you and the business are willing to resolve. When you ask an opinion, and get a critical response, you automatically raise expectations in that person’s mind. They assume their issue will be addressed. For example, a café asked for intervention to make sense of its customer feedback process, they made a list of all their amenities and asked for comments. They locked certain washroom cubicles to use as storage due to lack of space and this kept coming up as a frustration for customers waiting for facilities. Repeatedly and specifically asking about inconveniences, that cannot be fixed, draws attention to them and reduces customer satisfaction.


7. Mind your language

Words have power and when it comes to asking questions, precision of communication is everything. If the questions are bad, the data collected will be bad. To check and avoid misinterpretations, market researchers test questionnaires first with test responders to address any ambiguity and get feedback. Use a selection of responders that represents your target with regards to segmentation, mother language and job roles. Always run a test for comprehension.


8. Sharing is caring

Once you have collected your data and gathered your insights, be transparent and confident in sharing your findings. Not only does this increase staff confidence that you are listening, it also minimises any suspicion of hidden motives or hollow talk. Increasing trust will help increase engagement.


9. Create a manifesto

Once you have consensus on your recommendations, make a public declaration of planned actions with initial dates and accountabilities. This helps staff understand and adapt to changes that may not necessarily be personally beneficial. A manifesto is a statement of your accountability and commitment. An open display of which encourages the same positive behaviour in others.



In tech talk, the term garbage in, garbage out is used to describe how bad inputs result in bad outputs. Adopt these best practices from research pros and you will greatly improve your insights, your activities, and, ultimately, your employee engagement levels and KPIs.

Back to blog