Regular collection of employees’ feedback help to keep employees engaged in times of unprecedented change
One of the questions I have been asked most during the COVID-19 outbreak and economic downturn is “how do we keep employees engaged at this time?”
The answer is always to listen to your employees, understand their needs, and then act on their feedback. This is true for periods of rapid change and uncertainty like we find ourselves in now, as well as when things are running smoothly.
For example, prior to the current situation the Qualtrics Employee Experience Trends 2020 study found that in times of change employees value the opportunity to give feedback. Those organisations that meet this ask are thus rewarded with higher employee engagement.
Such is the rate of change we are experiencing right now, businesses should be seeking feedback from their teams at least weekly to keep them engaged. Businesses that do this successfully will give themselves the best chance for success right now, as well as laying the foundations for a fast and effective recovery.
We are all operating in a new world of work. For businesses to keep employees engaged, it requires a small change to traditional employee listening programmes, which can be achieved in three simple steps.
Step One: Fast, Regular, and Effective Communications
The old way of asking teams to give feedback a handful of times throughout the year will not work in our new normal. Furthermore, the same experiences that led to positive perceptions in the past could lead to negative ones in the future considering the changing environment.
Using modern employee listening platforms, leaders should ask a handful—no more than five—of basic questions weekly to uncover things impacting their teams right now. Keeping a consistent set of questions also helps leaders track changes over time.
Questions like “are you OK?’ and “do you have everything you need to successfully work from home right now?” ensure employees feel supported and engaged. They can uncover issues in the working from home experience—like information technology (IT) or communication challenges, or a sudden influx of meetings—for businesses to resolve too.
Using responses leaders can take meaningful actions to address employee concerns and close any experience gaps they are facing.
With many teams working from home we also need to find ways to maintain good interpersonal relationships. This can be achieved through video conferencing sessions or chat groups which foster social interactions among teams—however, be mindful not to overburden individuals with mandatory meeting requests.
Step Two: Understand what Drives Engagement for Different Groups
It’s important to remember your workforce is a group of individuals who are motivated by different things depending on their personal circumstances.
For example, the Qualtrics study found a driver of engagement for Singaporeans with under two years of service is seeing how their work aligns with the company’s objectives. In contrast, engagement is driven by confidence in senior leadership for employees with over four years of service.
As we move into the recovery phase, businesses should build out their listening platforms to identify the drivers of employee engagement for different groups. Powered by this information organisations can tailor the employee experience for different groups for maximum effect.
Step Three: Identify New Employee Expectations
In our new world of work, employees will expect greater workplace flexibility and a deeper connection with their colleagues. We’ll also need to integrate employees who have been stood down during the crisis.
Organisations must anticipate this shift in mindset by launching revised working from home initiatives or offering new onboarding programs. For these to be effective, businesses need to understand the new expectations of their teams to keep them engaged and ensure changes are aligned with their expectations.
The Long-term Benefits of an Engaged Workforce
As we undergo a period of unprecedented change, we should ask, listen, and act on our employees’ feedback. Organisations that foster strong relationships with their employees will result in more engaged employees—which will support the businesses immediate needs and provide a strong platform to build upon for the future.
Steve is the Head of Employee Experience (EX) Strategy and Solutions for Qualtrics in APJ, leading a team of specialists in guiding organisations to optimise the EX at every point in the employee lifecycle. Steve specialises in EX and human-centred technologies and is a passionate psychologist utilising the crossover space between creativity, psychology, and digital technologies to create a positive experience on our planet.
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