The AWRS is a research initiative of the Fair Work Commission as part of its commitment to promote harmonious and co-operative workplace relations in Australia.
This section of the report presents key information about the research design and the data collection methodology and outcomes.
The AWRS has been designed to be representative of employers and employees in the national jurisdiction of workplace relations (i.e. covered by the Fair Work Act 2009). The AWRS has surveyed enterprises (i.e. the head office and all worksites of the enterprise).
All employees of enterprises with 5–20 employees were invited to participate in the AWRS. A random selection of employees from enterprises with more than 20 employees was invited to participate.
Further information about the random selection of employees is available in the Technical notes.
The AWRS includes enterprises and employees of enterprises:
Of note, most linked employee-employer datasets have surveyed the workplace rather than the enterprise.
For example, the Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey (AWIRS) in both 1990 and 1995 was conducted at the workplace, and a similar approach is undertaken for the Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS) in the United Kingdom.
Most of the enterprises that participated in the AWRS were reportedly operating from one workplace only and so the enterprise and the workplace is the same.
The data presented in the AWRS First Findings report is based on enterprises; however, it would be possible to analyse the sub-set of workplaces from the AWRS dataset whereby the enterprise operates from one workplace. In addition, there may be a reasonable amount of consistency in the way that employment relations policies operate in enterprises with a relatively small number of worksites, so these enterprises could be included in any workplace-level analysis to increase the number of observations.
Further information about the sampled population and units of analysis is available in the Technical notes.
The AWRS comprised 5 separate surveys of employers and a survey of employees to collect information about a range of workplace relations and employment matters and contextual information about the operations of the enterprise.
The AWRS recruitment and data collection process is depicted by the AWRS fieldwork components flow chart. The recruitment process targeted the 'head of the human resources department or someone who makes decisions about employment' in larger enterprises, and for smaller enterprises recruiters targeted the owner or manager. Each component (questionnaire) of the AWRS was either completed by the 'survey co-ordinator' of the enterprise, who was the main contact point for the Commission’s data collection service provider (ORC International), or someone they nominated.
Participation in the AWRS and each component of the study was entirely voluntary.
Data were collected between February and July 2014. A total of 3057 enterprises participated in the AWRS by responding to the Employee Relations questionnaire which was the first component to be administered. Of these 3057 enterprises that participated in the AWRS, 1509 (49%) completed all of the employer questionnaire components.
Most (90%) enterprises that participated in the AWRS completed the Structure and operations questionnaire. The response rates for the 2 questionnaires that were primarily administered via an online survey had lower response rates, as depicted in Table 1.1. As explained in the (Provisional) AWRS Fieldwork Report, a shortened CATI version of these questionnaires was administered during the fieldwork to increase response rates. These questionnaires collected key information that was suitable to be collected via the CATI format.
|Employee relations||Structure & operations||Workforce profile||Financial information|
|Main method of data collection||CATI only||CATI only||Online / CATI||Online / CATI|
|Number of invitations to complete||17,163||3057||2770||2670|
|Total number of completed CATI questionnaires||3057||2759||622||710|
|Total number of completed online questionnaires||-||-||1224||946|
The process for selecting employees to participate in the AWRS is outlined in the Technical notes.
A total of 46,795 employees from those enterprises were invited to participate in the AWRS and 7883 completed the employee survey. This represents a completion rate of 16.8%, which is a typical response outcome for a self-completion survey.
Further information about the data collection methodology and outcomes is available in the (Provisional) AWRS Fieldwork Report.