Annex G. Topic guide employee representative

  • Outline the aims of the study and purpose of the interview.

  • Inform the interviewee of the likely duration.

  • Provide a brief overview of the scope of the issues the discussion will be looking to explore.

  • Request permission to record the interview.

  • Outline the treatment of data gathered and the approach to confidentiality.

  • Gain explicit consent for the interview and its recording based on this.

  • Check if the interviewee has any questions prior to commencing the discussion.

  • Ensure that the interview is tailored to the interviewee and firm type.

  • Feel free to change the order of the questions, as long as all questions are covered.

I would like to start with asking a few questions about yourself.

  1. 1. Can you please describe your current role in [enterprise/establishment], in particular your role as employee representative?


    • time in post, time in company

    • current remit, area of responsibility

    • previous roles

  2. 2. Do you formally represent employees? If so, in what way?


    • Member of trade union

    • Member of works council

    • Employee delegate

    • Other


    • How have you been chosen to represent employees in a formal process?

  3. 3. What is your own attitude towards learning throughout your life?


    • Why do you think it is important to keep you skills up-to-date?

    • How do you keep your skills up-to-date?

    • Do you take part in courses, seminars or workshops for learning purposes? When was the last time you took part in any of them?

I would now like to ask you some general questions about your [enterprise/establishment].

  1. 4. How is dialogue between employees and management organised?


    • Existence of works council and/or trade union

    • Forms of interaction between management and employee representatives

    • Opportunities for direct interaction between individual employees and management

  2. 5. To what extent does your enterprise provide training opportunities to its employees??


    • What share of employees take part in training in a given year?

    • How many days does a typical employee take part in training?

      [If Q02=yes]

  3. 6. What role does the issue of training play in negotiations between management and employee representatives?

I would now like to get a better understanding how training is organised in your [enterprise/establishment] and the role of employee representation in this.

  1. 7. Consider a hypothetical employee in your [enterprise/establishment]. Can you describe how they would access training?


    • How does the [enterprise/establishment] assess if the employee needs or wants training?

    • How does the employee find out about the different training opportunities on offer?

    • Who decides if the employee is being offered training?

    • Is training participation voluntary for the employee?

    • What role do employee representatives play in this?

      [If Q02=yes]

  2. 8. Does your [enterprise/establishment] have a workforce strategy, i.e. a plan for hiring, developing and motivating staff, as well as for utilising their skills?


    • Are employee representatives involved in the development of the strategy?

    • What is their level of involvement (advisory vs. decision-making)?

    • Beyond this, are any employees directly involved in the development of the strategy?

  3. 9. What is the role of employee representatives in planning training in your enterprise?


    • Do trade unions develop their own training offer?

    • Are you involved in the development of training programmes provided by the firm?

    • Are you involved in the selection of training providers?

    • Are you involved in the selection of training participants?

I would now like to ask some questions around why your [enterprise/establishment] is providing training and what it is hoping to get out of it.

  1. 10. In your view, what are the benefits of providing training from the perspective of the enterprise?


    • Do you think the enterprise benefits from providing training to all employees to an equal extent?

    • Do you think the enterprise benefits from all types of training to an equal extent?

  2. 11. In your view, how do employees benefit from the training that is provided?


    • Are there different benefits for different employees and/ or different types of training?

  3. 12. In your view, would your [enterprise/establishment] benefit from providing more training to its employees? If yes, what are the obstacles to providing more training?


    • Limited time for certain staff to participate in training

    • Difficult to assess skill needs of different employees

    • Difficult to find time to organise training internally

    • Training is too expensive

    • Difficult to find suitable courses offered by external providers

I will now ask some questions to understand how other organisational features of your [enterprise/ establishment] help or incentivise employees to learn in their day-to-day work.

  1. 13. In your view, what share of employees plan their work autonomously and flexibly?


    • What share can decide how or when to best fulfil their tasks?

    • What share works together in autonomous teams, i.e. teams in which members decide on the allocation of tasks and choose a team leader?

  2. 14. In your [enterprise/establishment], what happens if an employee makes a mistake?


    • Mistakes should be avoided at all costs;

    • Mistakes are discussed with the supervisor and corrected;

    • Employees are encouraged to find their own way of executing tasks, mistakes happen and are used as an opportunity to learn.


    • Does your approach to dealing with mistakes differ for different groups of employees?

  3. 15. How is the performance of employees assessed?


    • Is there a formal performance management system?

    • Can you describe it in more details (frequency, format)?

    • Does the performance assessment directly affect

      • employee level of pay,

      • prospects for promotion and/or training opportunities

  4. 16. In what other ways do employees have opportunities to learn in their day-to-day work besides training?


    • Frequent assignment of new tasks or formal job-rotation

    • Exposure to unfamiliar problems

    • Pairing with more experienced employees

    • Opportunities for learning by observing colleagues

    • Opportunities for information sharing amongst colleagues


    • How formalised are these opportunities?

  5. 17. Are there particular obstacles for employees to share knowledge?


    • Reluctance to ask advice for fear of approaching unknown colleagues?

    • Reluctance to ask advice for fear of showing incompetence?

    • Coordination difficulties (i.e. to set up meetings)?

    • Difficulties to identify which colleagues to approach for advice?


    • How common are these obstacles among the employees?

    • Are there any actions taken by the [enterprise/establishment] to remedy these obstacles?

  6. 18. How are employees encouraged to keep up to date with new products and services, new processes or other recent developments in the industry?

  1. 19. Are there any further comments you would like to make?

Thank the interviewee for their time and briefly discuss next steps.

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