How Can HR Departments Use Quantitative and Qualitative Data?

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Qualitative information for human resources includes surveys, interviews, opinions and academic literature, while quantitative information includes statistics and numerical calculations relating to human resources research. Human resources researchers collect qualitative information and analyze it using quantitative information. Gathering qualitative data from employees and managers provides "real-time" information about employee morale, team building and reveals problem areas within an organization, its management, and employee performance and training. Quantitative information includes statistical tables, mathematical charts, salary benchmarking and reports breaking down survey and interview results by percentages of participants.

Qualitative Information

Qualitative information is only as useful as the information is accurate. Variables can impact sources of qualitative information. An employee placed under disciplinary procedures is less likely to provide an objective opinion of her boss than an employee receiving a promotion. Human resources researchers must select research samples large enough for determining trends in the information sought; the results from a larger sample population are more likely to accurately reflect general opinions and trends. Researchers gathering qualitative information design surveys and interviews for ensuring objective administration of the research questions. Researchers may need to provide anonymity and uniform interview and survey protocols for ensuring objective results.

Quantitative Information

Human resources researchers tabulate survey and interview results using statistics and mathematics. Quantitative information can be checked for statistical and mathematical accuracy, but it does not account for variables including interviewees "having a bad day," personal conflicts between employees and subordinates and subjective judgments made by survey respondents or interviewees. Respondents' morale, fear of retribution for their answers or workplace politics can influence the outcome of research and cannot be measured using quantitative analysis. Statistical calculations are used for determining a margin of error in measuring qualitative information, which provides allowances for inaccurate or untruthful responses. Quantitative information can be skewed by incorrect mathematical and statistical tabulations.

Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Information

Human resources departments conduct research for determining salary benchmarks for their industries, researching the cost and coverage of health benefits, and for surveying employees and management. Quantitative and qualitative information are helpful for identifying trends and areas for improvement within a workplace. Human resources recruiters and retention specialists gather and tabulate such information for maintaining competitive compensation and benefits. Information gathered is tabulated, analyzed and presented to executive management with recommendations. Human resources researchers also use quantitative information for determining hiring trends and developing demographics for locating job candidates. Surveying employees assists human resources with identifying morale issues, improving employee performance, and reorganizing departments and work flow for improving efficiency.

Meeting Challenges

Human resources departments use qualitative and quantitative information for investigating employee performance problems and personnel issues. Qualitative data can assist human resources departments with identifying personnel problems and sources of employee morale problems. Quantitative information including attendance records and production reports assist with identifying individual and team problems within an organization. Workplace safety officers evaluate quantitative data reporting employee injuries and equipment failures for identifying and reducing potential for workplace injuries. Qualitative and quantitative information used together provide a full range of information for the topic or circumstances being researched. Qualitative information provides multiple points of view about a research topic, while quantitative data provides direct and objective information.

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