“My Work Day” – An innovative study on stress in the workplace

Smartphone-based diary study with time and event sampling

Client: Prof. Dr. Laurenz Meier, University of Neuchâtel

Many studies on the workplace only survey participating employees once (cross-sectional studies). The findings that can be obtained from such studies are limited for many reasons.

The diary study “My Work Day” seeks to gain a much more detailed glimpse into a day in the workplace. As part of this study, participants complete “diaries” over a period of two weeks. This involves them answering several brief surveys on their smartphones during their work days. The participants receive the short surveys at certain times (time-based) or they themselves initiate an entry after having experienced a certain situation at work (event-based). The data obtained in this way provide insights into psychological processes at work; such insights could not previously be gained using conventional questionnaires.

Challenge

The research design comprises seven different surveys: A basic survey at the start of the study, following by surveys over the course of ten work days (always scheduled on the morning, at midday and in the evening) and surveys throughout the whole work day that are triggered by certain events. In the case of the latter, it is important that participants are able to respond to questions directly after having experienced a certain event in their work day. The diary phase is followed by a longer survey that concludes the study. Personal feedback is subsequently automatically generated for the participants, which they can download in the form of a PDF. Not least because of the complicated study design, it is essential that processes run seamlessly for participants and that there are precise monitoring possibilities for the study conductors in order to ensure data quality.

Process

In order to encapsulate and execute the complexity of such a study, we use flow diagrams that we have prepared in cooperation with the client. Using the “Flow Engine” from our SurveyLab Framework, we are able to accurately translate a study design of any complexity into a corresponding study process. Every box and every arrow in the diagram is implemented in the form of a software plugin. Many of these plugins are already included in SurveyLab; others are developed by ourselves over the course of a project, as the need arises.

 

Solution

Participating respondents are able to register online for “My Work Day”. The study conductors then invite these people to a meeting in order to provide them with instructions for the diary. Consequently, the study is released for the respondents in the admin console of the software and the system sends an invitation for the basic survey and instructions for connecting their smartphones. Bright Answer provides the SurveyLab mobile app for download free of charge for iOS and Android. To connect with the study, a QR code simply has to be scanned using the app.

Once the connection is established and the basic survey is completed, the ten-day diary phase automatically begins. The invitations then take the form of push messages sent to the connected smartphones. As soon as a participant has sufficient diary entries, the system stops sending invitations and automatically dispatches the invitation for the final survey.

The study participants are led through the entire process with the help of simple, automated instructions. The study conductors have an overview of participants’ progress at all times. They are notified if emails or push messages are unable to be sent and are able to access information such as response rates or drop outs at any time.

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