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FOWI Guide

Employee perceptions through focus groups

As a research institute, we know how critical collecting employee perception data is.

Employee perception data involves asking employees for their thoughts regarding a certain topic of interest and reflects their thoughts or behaviours. Employee perception data is gathered through methods such as surveys, interviews and focus groups and will help you make informed strategic decisions.

Measuring the success of any initiative you implement in the thrive process is critical. Data will help you to understand the return on investment of your efforts, and also whether the intervention is having the desired effect. One of the richest ways to gather this data is through an employee focus group.

Focus groups bring a small group of employees (usually around 6-12 people) together to discuss a topic of interest. They typically operate as a group conversation, with a facilitator guiding the group. Similar to interviews, focus groups can be used to probe topics in a more in-depth way; adding understanding to existing numerical data. Focus groups are useful when:

  • Trying to understand how a group sees a particular problem/issue/topic and why a group behaves in a certain way.
  • You want to identify common themes which may help you plan future changes.
  • You wish to see what a group of employees thinks about a particular issue and how they discuss topics as a group.

Focus groups are particularly useful when you are covering complex topics that may need responses to be clarified and in-depth data (e.g. how to improve a training program). In addition, focus groups are excellent for gaining a sense of how group members interact as they allow participants to be guided by each other’s points and opinions.


The Future of Work Institute has produced its own comprehensive guide on using data, including focus groups.

Further reading

Worksafe Queensland have produced a user friendly guide outlining the basic princples of conducting an effective focus group.