University of Wisconsin–Madison

Data and Assessment

Data can be a powerful tool to provide insight into the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion within your organization.

In our collective efforts to support potential and current employees on campus, assessment and data collection helps identify current policies, systems, structures, practices, processes, and/or procedures that need review, improvement and/or clarification, or that do not exist but should.

Data collection

There are numerous ways divisions are able to collect data about the employee experience and learn more about employee needs.

Focus groups

Conducting focus groups provides an opportunity to engage in conversation with small groups of employees to learn more about employees’ attitudes, feelings, perceptions, and experiences about specific topics.

Needs assessments

A needs assessment is a tool and a process used by organizations to identify organizational priorities, areas of opportunity and growth,  and resource needs. This type of assessment allows organizations to reflect on where they are (current state) and where they want and/or need to be (ideal future state).

Readiness assessments

A readiness assessment is a tool that is used to identify needs and potential challenges that might arise when implementing new organizational structures, policies, processes, and/or procedures. When an organization is undergoing change, information collected from readiness assessments allows organizations to understand the level of awareness and preparedness of individual employees and the organization as a whole.


Stay interviews

Stay interviews are structured discussions with individual employees to learn specific actions that formal leaders can take to improve the employee experience and contribute to employee retention efforts. Stay interviews hold space for conversation and follow-up questions to employee responses.

  • SMPH stay interview toolkit
    Developed by the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), this toolkit provides resources for managers and supervisors to prepare, conduct, and take action on stay interviews. This toolkit can be accessed using your campus netID.

Exit interviews

An exit interview is a structured conversation with an employee who is leaving the organization. The information collected from an exit interview is used to provide insight on why employees may be leaving, their overall employee experience with the organization, and what areas they feel the organization needs to improve. This information, if collected in a safe, open, and honest way, can be used to improve organizational processes, culture, and climate. Exit interviews hold space for conversation and follow-up questions to employee responses.


Climate or engagement surveys

Climate or engagement surveys are comprehensive assessment tools to assess the culture and climate of an organization, gauge employee engagement, identify organizational growth opportunities, and identify and understand employee needs and concerns.

Candidate experience surveys

A candidate experience survey is a brief assessment tool to collect information from candidates throughout recruitment and hiring processes. Information collected from candidate experience surveys are used to improve recruitment strategy and planning and hiring processes.

Onboarding experience surveys

An onboarding experience survey is a series of questions asked of new employees who have recently participated in an onboarding program or are currently participating in an onboarding program. Information collected from onboarding experience surveys are used to identify areas of strength and growth of onboarding programs, and provide an opportunity for new employees to share their work needs and concerns.

Pulse surveys

A pulse survey is an assessment tool used to provide quick insights into the employee experience at intentional and specific points in time. Pulse surveys are typically short, fast, and administered more frequently than climate or engagement surveys. Information collected from pulse surveys allow organizations to track employee experience trends and assess growth.

Exit surveys

An exit survey is an assessment tool that is a series of questions asked of employees who are leaving the organization through a survey platform. Similar to exit interviews, information collected from exit surveys is used to provide insight on why employees may be leaving, their overall employee experience with the organization, and what areas they feel the organization needs to improve.

Stay surveys

A stay survey is an assessment tool that is a series of questions asked of current employees, typically conducted by human resources and/or managers/supervisors through a survey platform, to gauge employee perceptions and feelings about their job, their job responsibilities, the workplace, and organizational culture.

Data analysis

Thoughtfully reviewing and analyzing data that are collected about what employees are experiencing allows organizations to understand and communicate the story behind the data. Organizations should dedicate time and resources to apply appropriate analytics to glean critical insights and data visualizations for all constituents to understand what the data ar saying.

Data granularity (filtering)

Consider the ability to filter the data for appropriate audience groups. What level of data is needed in order for stakeholders to meaningfully engage with the data? Are stakeholder groups able to filter the data by different demographic groups to better understand the specific needs of employees?

Data access

Consider who has access to the data and what kind of data they have access to. It is critical to encourage widespread sharing of the data to promote transparency and growth, and to engage in co-creating plans that to address organizational needs.

Data visualizations

Data visualizations provide a visual opportunity to easily and quickly see data trends and patterns.

Data Storytelling

Data storytelling is the ability to effectively and clearly communicate data insights to diverse audience groups using data visualizations and narratives. Storytelling is an opportunity to provide context around the data and offer recommended actions.

Action planning

Collecting and analyzing data is not enough. The initiation and implementation of data collection and analysis indicates to employees that organizations intend to listen and make changes to support the work and needs of employees.

Communicate and share results

Consistent, clear, and regular communication to employees before, during, and after data collection is critical and can have a significant impact on how employees engage with the process and engage with the organization long-term. When and how will employees receive information about what is learned from collected data about their experience? How and to what extent is the organization transparent in sharing data results?

Engage stakeholders

How and to what extent do employees have opportunities to reflect, process, and ask questions of the data and results?

Co-create priorities and goals

It is critical for employees to fully participate in identifying priorities, goals, and areas for growth. When this happens, it shows employees that the organization values their needs and perspectives, and it facilitates a shared understanding around priorities and goals.

Consider the following:

  • How and to what extent are employees involved in co-creating plans to take action on the results?
  • What specific concerns or issues need to be addressed?
  • What additional information would be helpful to collect?
  • What are the desired outcomes?
  • What behaviors or actions need to start, stop, or continue to address these issues?
  • What action steps need to be implemented to achieve these desired outcomes?


How will priorities and goals be implemented? Is there a clear process to implement goals? How and to what extent has the organization built in mechanisms of accountability to these priorities and goals?

Assess progress

How and to what extent is the organization consistently assessing plans to achieve the named priorities and goals? How and to what extent is the organization ensuring that implementation and action planning moves forward?

  • Campus Climate Data Action Toolkit
    Developed by the Equity, Diversity and Climate, Assessment Subcommittee, this resources outlines processes and practices on how to approach climate assessment and taking action.

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