02 May Validity and Reliability: two essentials of data-driven decisions
Validity and reliability are two well-known concepts in the field of quantitative studies. When collecting information from a sample to evaluate it and draw conclusions that lead us not to rule out a hypothesis or make an important decision, it is essential that the tool we are using meets the appropriate quality standards.
In this sense, no matter how well intentioned we may be and no matter how rigorous the study is, if our data extraction solution is not valid or reliable, our efforts will have been for nothing.
In the specific case of employee pulse surveys, validity and reliability are two fundamental characteristics that serve to provide real data with which to establish effective insights that give us valuable results to our study of climate, satisfaction, motivation, or any other dimension you want to measure.
So, let’s see what these two essential concepts consist of in any measurement tool.
What is quantitative research?
Quantitative research is that one that transforms words and ideas into numerical data in order to facilitate statistical analysis and to understand behavior patterns, establish correlations, frequencies or cause-effect relationships, among others.
The results of a quantitative research are usually expressed in charts that help to synthesize all the information at a glance and allow us to quickly understand the reality that surrounds us.
Within the world of corporations, this type of research is very popular to evaluate the economy of a market or the financial situation of a business. And, at the Human Resources level, quantitative studies are useful to analyze employee dynamics and visualize important indicators such as the level of turnover, absences, hiring, job satisfaction, etc.
Among the most used tools in quantitative research there are the surveys or questionnaires, since they are a simple and inexpensive but very powerful method for collecting data on a massive scale.
On the Internet there are many solutions designed to create surveys quickly and easily, such as Google Forms, Microsoft Forms and other alternatives. But, all of them lack the two concepts that make the results obtained really useful: validity and reliability.
What is validity in a measurement tool?
The validity of a measurement tool refers to the fact that the instrument that we are using really serves to measure that we want to measure.
For example, a valid instrument to measure intelligence must measure intelligence and not memory.
In the same way, a questionnaire to measure employee engagement should measure engagement and nothing else.
How can we know if a questionnaire is valid? Asking the right questions.
Thanks to that information, we have been able to compile the most common dimensions that directly influence employee motivation and satisfaction, creating a set of eight key dimensions that you will not find in any other similar tool.
Types of validity
There are three types of validity to consider:
- Content validity. In what extent an instrument reflects all the available variables of what it is intended to measure or if, on the contrary, it shows only a small part, giving rise to a biased result. For example: a job commitment questionnaire that does not assess leadership does not have content validity.
- Criterion validity. In what extent the result of the tool is able to predict the result of a similar instrument that evaluates the same variables. For example, if we create a new survey that measures employee satisfaction and the results are the same as what we would get from eNPS, it means that the new survey has high criterion validity.
- Construct validity. In what extent the tool actually reflects the meaning of what it is intended to measure, giving explanation to the theoretical model that underlies the variable of interest.
The sum of these three types of validity results in the total validity of the measurement tool and, if these aspects are not taken care of, the consequences could be disastrous. If you don’t believe… just catch this: Coca-Cola lost more than 30M$ for not monitoring criterion validity.
What is reliability in a measuring instrument?
The reliability of a measurement instrument lies in the degree to which it produces consistent results in repeated applications.
That is, under the same conditions it produces the same results.
Let’s take the case of a scale: if the first time you weigh yourself it marks 60kg, then you weigh yourself again and it marks 5kg, repeat the operation and it marks 120kg… that scale is NOT reliable.
In the case of surveys, they must be able to replicate the results in the same sample or sample with the same characteristics.
A tool can be valid but unreliable, however an unreliable tool will never be valid.
At Team Insights really want to help companies improve their bottom line, so we take the validity and reliability of our tool very seriously. Therefore, next to each question’s score we show its level of precision.
The level of precision measures whether the data obtained is representative of the organization or not, and will depend on the number of responses and the number of employees you have.
If we want to be efficient and obtain results that really add value to our intentions to improve the organization, we must start by using the right tools.
The best way to ensure correct treatment of data, eliminating possible biases that negatively affect our final decisions, is by using a method of data collection with proven and verified quality.
In Team Insights not only have the correct questions for each variable you need to measure, we also use a sampling system capable of adapting to the number of employees so that it always shows the best valid and reliable results.
If you want more information about how Team Insights works and how our metrics measurement and pulse surveys platform can help you improve your organization, do not hesitate to request a guided Demo in which you will be able to see Team Insights in action while one of our technicians answers all your questions.
And if you’re not convinced… you can continue using Google Forms.