The Role of Surveys in Empowering the Remote Employee

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The last year has seen leaders attempt to reconnect to their employees on a level that we’ve rarely seen in the past. The amount of engagement between HR, leadership and employees is at an all-time high as organizations look to keep their people feeling connected until they can be brought back to in-person settings safely.

For HR leaders, the pandemic has provided a seat at the leadership table and a fresh opportunity to reshape the future of the organization. But to do that in a way that ensures a positive employee experience, a focus on the future and what the business needs, they have to tie together a great deal of information in making decisions. As a result, employee surveys have been playing a vital role in how HR views what comes next.

“The decisions of HR are more visible than they’ve ever been before and the businesses that are going to be most successful are the ones that are able to put employee feedback at the center of their decision-making,” Chisom Agada, Director of People Partners at Survey Monkey, said. “They’re listening to their employees at scale and taking action on their most pressing concerns.”

Agada’s comments were part of a session titled “Empowering Employees in a Remote-first Environment” at our recent HR and Future of Work online summit. He noted how business models have evolved, with things like trade shows and candidate interviews all transforming to adopt virtual practices.

Other practices have had to adapt to, as in the case of employee surveys and pulse check-ins. Where once surveys were more likely to be one-offs, the challenge of the remote workplace and surrounding conditions of the pandemic have required companies to increase the frequency and style of their surveys. In many cases, that means shorter surveys, often with a more specific focus and happening with more frequency.

“These pulse check-ins take on the form of shorter, more frequent surveys and by making that adjustment, HR leaders ensure that they have the most up-to-date feedback data,” Agada said. “This results in insights that are delivered in days rather than months so that you can take action on them more efficiently. The needs of employees are constantly evolving right now and will continue to evolve quickly over the course of the next year.”

Back to Work

The return to the office is a bone of contention for many organizations. When to return employees to work, what it will take to make them feel safe and who is allowed to continue working remotely is a hot topic of discussion across many organizations.

Now that remote work has gone on for so long and is proving to not be detrimental to productivity, the change management challenge of that re-acclimation to a co-located workspace will be significant. Survey Monkey data shows that 64% of HR leaders recognize the importance of employee experience in returning people to offices. Surveys around the topic of returning to work are a valuable tool in ensuring that HR makes decisions that build employee confidence in reopening.

READ: 5 Tips for Building Trust When Employees Return to Work

“The question is becoming how do you build an employee survey program that captures the insights you need and helps you plan for the future,” Agada said. “The data you’ll surface from these efforts can help you engage and support remote workers, plan a safe and successful return to work and supporting onsite teams.”

In a Survey Monkey audience study, 86% of employees said that it was a good thing for employers to send them regular surveys and 27% actually thought they should be getting more of them. Taking this into consideration, there are some key considerations when developing an employee feedback program that helps you shape the future of your workplace. Agada highlighted three things to keep in mind:

  • Continuous and scalable- finding a cadence that works for your employees and the HR team that takes into account survey fatigue and business needs.
  • Forward thinking- HR data is so often focused on reacting, but the data should also be able to provide insights into trends that can help you build a workplace for the future
  • Transparent- asking for feedback, sharing the results and then acting on it in a way that is evident for employees to see.

A good feedback program does all of these. Agada then outlined some examples of how Survey Monkey has done this. The first was around engagement and benefits surveys, which highlighted a need for more mental health support. An examination of EAP benefits was conducted and the implementation of flex days quickly followed.

Another example was their return to work survey which unveiled varying levels of confidence and concerns around bolstering office hygiene protocols and limiting the number of employees in the office. This gives the leadership a better sense of where their people are at with the idea and what they need to do to gain employee buy in to returning.

“HR leaders now have the ability to assure employees that you are listening,” Agada said. “I can’t emphasize enough, do not miss out on this opportunity to put employee feedback at the center of decision making processes. We’re designing different pilots, for example, on what our experience will be like when we return to the office and as we collect feedback on that, we’ll have a better idea of what employees liked and didn’t like.”

Photo Courtesy of Stock Photo Secrets 

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