Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2021: Technical Report

Technical report for the 2021 Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey.


Data collection and methodology

A total of 1,000 interviews were conducted by telephone using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) by IFF Research.

Establishments were not pre-notified that they would be called for the survey, partly due to financial considerations and partly because it was felt that this could lead to a reduction in response rates if head offices potentially opted all the establishments in their organisation out of the survey.

Interviews were conducted with the most senior person at the site with responsibility for recruitment, human resources and workplace skills. Reassurances were provided to respondents prior to the survey, including confirmation that data would be reported in aggregate form and in a way that would not allow them or their organisation to be identifiable. If after the first contact the respondent or gatekeeper wanted more information about the survey a reassurance email was sent (see Appendix E for a copy of the reassurance email).

All interviewers received a briefing via video conference. Prior to the briefing, interviewers were provided with a set of briefing notes, advising them on the background and objectives of the study, how sample information had been sourced and guidance on specific questions. The video briefing included a detailed run-through of all survey questions by a senior researcher at IFF Research, to help guide interviewers through more complex questions. At least 5% of interviews were monitored for quality assurance.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have continued with homeworking, creating further practical challenges around administering the survey. With many switchboards unable to transfer interviewers to the correct respondents, processes were introduced by IFF Research to collect email addresses for homeworking respondents. Once the email address was collected, invites were sent offering respondents the opportunity to leave their telephone number to arrange a call back.

Fieldwork took place from 29th November and 24th December 2021, meeting the timetable to complete fieldwork prior to the end of the year.

Table 8 below shows the final number of achieved interviews by size and sector.

Table 8. Final number of achieved interviews by sizeband and sector
Sector 2-4 5-9 10-24 25-49 50-99 100+ Total
Primary Sector & Utilities 29 17 12 9 1 2 70
Manufacturing 9 14 12 8 5 13 61
Construction 19 13 17 6 6 4 65
Trade, Accommodation and Transport 55 93 106 55 24 24 357
Business and Other Services 93 83 44 34 14 13 281
Non-market Services 17 22 40 30 30 27 166
Total 222 242 231 142 80 83 1,000

Response rate

The survey received an overall response rate of 34%, lower than the Scottish EPS response rate of 44% achieved in 2019.

The overall response rate was calculated as 'achieved interviews' as a proportion of all 'complete contacts', where a final outcome was reached with the establishment (this includes those respondents who completed the interview, refused to take part or quit during the interview).

Table 9 provides a detailed breakdown of survey outcomes.

Table 9: Sample outcomes and response rate
Outcome Number of contacts % of all sample % of complete contacts
Total sample 8,558 100% -
Ineligible establishments (e.g. just 1 working proprietor at site) 672 8% -
Working from home 216 3% -
'Live' / out of quota 3,835 45% -
Unobtainable / invalid numbers 926 11% -
Total complete contacts 2,909 34% 100%
Achieved interviews 1,000 12% 34%
Respondent refusal 1,888 22% 65%
Quits during interview 21 <1% 1%

The response rate is defined as the number of achieved interviews as a proportion of the total complete contacts.

Regular adjustments were made to the balance of establishments contacted to ensure an even distribution of interviews with employers from different sectors and sizebands throughout the fieldwork period. Sample was loaded into fieldwork in proportion to quota targets so that quota progression was as even as possible, and to ensure employers were called and re-called at suitable points without being over-contacted.

During fieldwork, when it became evident that a target quota within a particular cell had become unachievable (i.e. when the number of interviews required to reach the quota target was more than the remaining sample), targets were increased in other cells to compensate, using the following approach:

  • In the first instance, targets were increased within the same sector in an adjacent size band.
  • If adjacent size bands had also become unachievable then any remaining achievable size bands within the sector were used to compensate.
  • In some cases it was preferable to make up the shortfall in a cell within the same sizeband from a different sector. This would be the case when there was a desire to maximise the number of interviews in that sizeband irrespective of other characteristics.

Though fieldwork ran smoothly overall, there were some challenges with achieving the 'Construction' quota. To maximise response in this sector, IFF trialled calls outside of conventional hours for this sub-group. This exercise ran from 15th - 20th December 2021 and focussed on the Construction sector sample only.

Across all sector and sizeband targets most quotas were met or close to being met. We were unable to meet the 2-4 sizeband and Construction quotas (as discussed above), but more than 80% of the target was achieved, which gave a sufficient sample size for analysis purposes. Targets were relaxed in the final week to ensure that fieldwork was completed before the end of the year.



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