Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2019: technical report

Technical report accompanying the Scottish EPS 2019 research report providing background information on the methodology used.


Fieldwork for the survey was undertaken between February and April 2019, involving 2,652 telephone interviews. Interviews were conducted with the most senior person at the site with responsibility for recruitment, human resources and workplace skills.

The survey achieved a strong overall conversion rate of 44%, slightly higher than the 41% achieved in UK EPS in 2016. Sector and size band targets were met across almost all quotas.

Data collection methodology

A total of 2,652 interviews were conducted by telephone using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) systems. Fieldwork took place between February and April 2019.

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 owing to head offices potentially opting out for all of the establishments in their organisation. An exception was made for certain large banks, where head offices were contacted by members of the Scottish Government team prior to the survey commencing in order to obtain telephone numbers at branch level for establishments included in the sample drawn. This approach was taken as the original telephone numbers supplied in the sample directed interviewers to call centres from where, based on past experiences of the EPS and ESS, it has proved particularly challenging to reach individual branches.

All interviewers were provided with a detailed briefing on the questionnaire design, the aims of the research, and background of the project and the organisations involved. These briefings paid particular attention to the screener section of the questionnaire to ensure the correct respondent was reached. They also focussed on suitable prompts to use for the SIC question and explored the necessary level of detail required at this question.

The survey process was monitored throughout to ensure a high quality of interviewing, whereby all interviewers were monitored by IFF's Quality Control team at least once, and at least 5% of interviews were monitored.

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 D for a copy of the reassurance email). Employers were asked at the end of the survey whether they would like to receive a summary report of the survey findings via email once the results were published (41% of employers requested to be emailed the summary report).

Response rates

The survey received an overall response rate of 44%, slightly higher than the UK EPS response rate of 41% achieved in 2016. Table 6 breaks down the sample outcome and response rate for Scottish EPS 2019. Response rate was calculated as the number of achieved interviews as a proportion of 'total 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 6: Sample outcomes

Sample outcome Number of contacts % of all sample % of complete contacts
Total issued sample 21,318 100
Ineligible establishments (e.g. sole traders) 727 3
Unavailable during fieldwork/out of quota/ongoing or live sample 12,447 58
Unobtainable/invalid numbers 2,093 10
Total complete contacts 6,051 28 100
Achieved interviews 2,652 12 44
Respondent refusal 2,357 11 39
Quits during interview 285 1 5
Company policy refusal 757 4 3

Regular adjustments were made to the balance of establishments contacted to ensure an even distribution of interviews with employers from different sectors and size bands 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.

As is usual with surveys of this kind, there were certain types of employers with whom it proved more difficult to achieve interviews and so various methods were employed to help improve response rates among these employers. For example, calls were often made to Construction and Agriculture establishments outside of normal business hours (before 9am and after 5pm) as their work is typically site / outdoor based rather than carried out near a telephone.

An average sample-to-target ratio of 8:1 against each target cell was set. Due to the availability of sample (i.e. in certain cells it was not possible to order at an 8:1 ratio) this varied between quota cells; from 4:1 in Constrution 250+ to 11:1 in Financial Services 50-99.

Across all sector and size band targets quotas were met or close to being met. A minority of sector quotas within the 2-4 size band were not met, generally due to lower volumes of available sample, for example within the Construction sector within the 2-4 size band in which a 4:1 sample ratio was order compared to an overall sample ratio of 8:1.



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