Needle in the Haystack: Finding and Acting on the Most Useful Comments


Survey work, and more broadly, employee research, has historically been informed almost exclusively by quantitative data. Across work within organizations, applied research, and theoretical research, the use of quantitative methods overwhelm that of qualitative methods. Said another way, we love our surveys and rating scales. This is evident not just in the way that practitioners gather and analyze data in organizations, but also the journal articles produced by academics, and the training graduate students receive.

There is a need to recognize the strengths qualitative data can provide, especially when integrated with quantitative data. Our data sources are becoming bigger and more varied – we have a multitude of quantitative (opinion scores, turnover statistics, performance ratings) and qualitative (survey comments, blog posts, internal communications) data. Each are valuable on their own, but more powerful when synthesized to tell the full story.