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Adapting engagement: proactive approaches in times of crisis

Now, more than ever, employee feedback is crucial to helping organisations understand the experience of employees. Not only will this allow them to make better-informed, timely decisions, but it will also enable them to share best practice and sustain dialogue across their employee population.

The unprecedented situation we face is causing many businesses to consider suspending their employee feedback programmes. Their considerations are two-fold: they need time to respond to the new challenges they face, and there is a question mark over whether engagement processes are appropriate when employees face the individual hurdle of dramatically altered working practices.

Both of these issues are valid. But now, more than ever, employee feedback is crucial to helping organisations understand the experience of employees. Not only will this allow them to make better-informed, timely decisions, but it will also enable them to share best practice and sustain dialogue across their employee population.

Why feedback is critical in a crisis

Our own research and the experience of the clients we work with shows that, in business-as-usual circumstances, organisations need regular and relevant insight to allow leaders, managers and HR teams to make ongoing, iterative adjustments.

With many people now working in unfamiliar ways during unfamiliar times, it’s even more critical to have an agile actionable insight programme that supports quick decision-making. This will ensure businesses can alter their response and approach to the almost daily changing circumstances they face, both within and outside their organisations.

Adapting what we measure

In times of change or crisis, the question isn’t whether to measure but what to measure. Employee engagement programmes, and the surveys within them, need to be adapted to extract the most pertinent information for the circumstances we face today. Focusing on specific key metrics, rather than wide-ranging feedback, is more suited to getting to the heart of the information we need, including:

Sentiment: focusing on key outcome measures such as employee confidence, morale, mood and wellbeing.

Leadership: assessment of key leadership behaviours, including: how effectively are leaders seen to be leading the organisation? Do employees believe they are making the right decisions for the firm and individuals? How can inspiring leadership be sustained during this difficult time?

 

Management: assessment of key management behaviours, including: what can managers do to drive the most positive outcomes from remote working? Do managers feel supported to manage their teams through this period?

Customers: using employees as a ‘voice of the customer’ to: identify customers’ experience through this period; inform decisions taken around customer service and communications; enable pre-emptive behaviour to maximise the goodwill of customers during a time of unavoidable challenges.

Enablement: tracking how equipped employees feel to do their jobs under new ways of working and employee perceptions on resource management. This will highlight where ‘teething problems’ are settling down and where persistent challenges or barriers need to be addressed.

 Events and communications: measuring the impact of certain events or communications, both internal and external, on employee experience or sentiment.

Segmentation: conducting relevant segmentation of employees to allow tailored responses or interventions, prioritised according to the size of relevant groups. This will deliver clearer understanding of the challenges faced by, and the perceived support given to, different sectors of employees, such as parents/carers or those who are older or vulnerable.

Timely, targeted reporting
Times of change or crisis affect every level of employee. It’s critical that engagement reporting reflects this.

Tailored reporting levels will deliver accurate and detailed insight but in a quick, timely manner that allows for rapid decision-making. This includes:

Employee: high-level summary results delivered within 24 hours of close of Pulse or ad-hoc surveys. Shared with employees and outlining realistic, committed actions in response to key areas the feedback has highlighted.

Executive Committee: detailed reporting, including results for key employee segments, delivered within 48 hours of close of surveys. Shared across the leadership team and including recommendations for action and learnings from best practice.

HR: access for HR users via online dashboards, with slice-and-dice functionality, sharing results in real-time and filtered by key employee and organisational demographics.

Proactive next steps

Much of the action we are all taking at this time is, understandably and necessarily, reactive. We are having to watch the situation unfold, listen to Governmental advice and adapt our business practices accordingly.

At a time when many of the challenges ahead may seem insurmountable, the process of adapting your employee feedback programme can be very simple – and can make a real difference to the ability of your teams to thrive during this extended period of uncertainty.

 

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