The entire structure of work has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Work continues to evolve as businesses learn to navigate this next normal.
As I discussed in my previous post, the first phase for returning back to work is to stabilize your operations. The goal of the stabilization phase is to protect both your employees and the business. Brands must listen to their service agents and take thoughtful action based on their feedback. One of the best methods for this is an employee survey.
The feedback from the employee survey plays a key role in how your business will reopen. This could have different meanings for different companies. Some may be setting in motion plans to reopen their offices while others may pivot to a remote workforce. The transition from stabilization to reopening requires a new type of employee survey. This survey should measure the progress of your reopening efforts and the wellbeing of your service agents during this phase.
This article covers how to create the ideal employee survey that delivers the insight you need to safely reopen your business.
Determine what reopen looks like for your business
Reopening could mean a pivot to full-time remote work. Service agents may be building out their work-from-home set-up which may require new tools and resources.
Reopening could also mean going back into the office part-time or full-time. Although government regulations haven't changed, many of us are already working to ensure safety by staggering working hours or increasing maintenance and cleaning.
Every organization’s plan will look different, and this applies to individual teams as well. For example, your service agents may need particular tools and services to remain productive that were not necessary prior to the pandemic.
In an article from CEO magazine, the author, Sharon Swift, stated, “The formula is simple: Happy employees equal happy customers. Similarly, an unhappy employee can ruin the brand experience for not just one, but numerous customers.” At GetFeedback, we couldn’t agree more, as I discuss in a recent Linkedin Live session.
Surveying your agents will set you up for a successful reopening. They are the ones going through the transition and can offer solutions to problems as they arise.
Elements to consider for reopening
Organizations will have to engage in conversations with their service agents about a wide range of topics. “Returning to offices as we knew them is not just about real estate and facilities; it’s about how we collaborate and be productive in a more dynamic environment,” says Becky Cantieri, Chief People Officer at SurveyMonkey.
There are some specific elements that you should consider when capturing feedback.
Reopening your office may mean onboarding new tools and resources for employees. Tools ranging from sanitization stations to temperature monitoring, cleaning services, to new technology. If employees are working remotely full-time, do they have the right technology to be successful? Do service agents need help with their home wireless systems? Is there a software system that would improve agent and customer conversations? Is your ticketing system equipped for the new set up?
Reassess the tools you offer your service agents, both in the office and at home.
The reopen phase is a transition. In times of change, productivity can ebb and flow. As employees adjust, continue to survey them on their productivity. Is there any way you can help productivity in the workplace or at home?
It’s likely that policies will need to evolve as certain employees begin to experience office life again. You want to keep your finger on the pulse of this time of change to support your employees. Do employees feel comfortable in the workplace? Are they satisfied with cleaning and maintenance protocols? Do employees need cubicles instead of an open floor plan to feel secure?
Remote employees who are preparing for a longer-term work from home set up may also need new workspace tools. Are your service agents equipped with the technology to help them succeed? They may need monitors, chairs, desks, headphones, and microphones. Surveying service agents on these workspace needs will show you where you need to allocate resources.
Now is a time to align on employee childcare needs. How are employees managing potential family care needs during the transition back to the office? If you find negative feedback in this area, there lies an opportunity to rework your family care resources. Rethink your parental policy and take action on the most pressing issues families are facing families through the reopening phase.
Remote employees with family members in their care may need ongoing support to ensure they can focus on their work day-to-day. Health and safety are of the utmost importance now. You need to understand if family care needs at home affect an employee’s ability to come into the office.
With these elements in mind, it’s time to build your reopen survey.
Build your employee reopen survey
We delved into the channels, cadence, and design of surveys in the first blog post of this series. So, reopening your offices or adjusting to new work norms, is a great opportunity to improve on your employee surveys.
Let’s discuss the various best practices that you should keep in mind when developing a survey during this second phase.
Best practices for survey development
Provide a platform for employees to leave feedback: The old and archaic employee survey tends to be too broad and filled with leading questions. To get to the heart of what’s going on with service agents during reopening you have to provide them with a platform where they feel safe to leave feedback. Onboarding a surveying or feedback solution, communicating privacy measures, and being clear about what your organization plans to do with the results will encourage employees to leave feedback.
Have a clear goal in mind with each survey: There’s an art to asking questions to get the answers you’re looking for. Take the time to craft questions that speak to the issue or goal you want to address. The goal of your reopen survey is to understand what is and what isn’t working in your reopen plan.
The importance of qualitative feedback during COVID-19: Offering an open-text option in every survey can help you capture honest feedback from your agents. Qualitative insight is the best way to see how employees are feeling. It gives them free-form space to share their thoughts and feelings.
The reopen phase is a time to dig into employee feedback and listen. Be honest about what you plan to do with the feedback you collect to show transparency to your employees.
How to prioritize and take action on feedback
It would be naive to assume you can take action on every employee comment. The power of a feedback collection tool is its ability to pinpoint the top issues where you can flood resources to tackle them head-on.
You can’t take action on everything, but you can activate the most important and universal issues. You also need to be transparent about this prioritization.
3 ways to communicate action on employee feedback:
You’re implementing their solution and the reason.
You’re implementing a modified version of their suggestion, and the reasoning behind it.
You’re not planning to put in place their solution, and the reasoning behind the decision.
Communication and transparency
Transparency and data can be powerful to build employee trust. While you won’t be able to tackle each employee issue right away, you can focus on issues and solve them one by one.
For example, your service agents may report that they need noise-canceling equipment for successful client-calls. You might not have the budget for this project right away. Acknowledge the need and a plan to address the issue in the future.
“Workplace transparency is proven to breed long-term success. Done well, transparency creates trust between employers and employees, helps improve morale and lower job-related stress while increasing employee engagement and boosting performance.” -Glassdoor for Employers, 2019
The act of communication and transparency is vital to a successful reopening. Open communication builds trust and trust is key for employees to feel comfortable in this new phase of business.
Examples of actions you can take on employee feedback
Feedback is only as useful as it is actionable. In the reopen phase, your focus should be on improving and adjusting your plan to fit the needs of your employees. Here are some ways to take action on feedback that offer tangible results:
Establish information portals for remote employees: Employees settling into longer-term remote work may need more frequent organizational communication. Consider the need to establish new information channels.
Identify new employee needs in the office or at home: Once you’ve surveyed your employees on their needs during reopen, use that information to designate resources where they are most needed.
Consider sharing feedback analysis and action report: In keeping up with transparency and communication, it may be time to put in place a regular report on feedback trends and the actions you plan to take to resolve any issues.
Iterate your reopen plan to fit evolving employee needs: The goal of surveying employees throughout the reopen phase is to understand what’s working, and more importantly, what’s not. Continue to adapt and adjust your reopen plan to fit the needs of your team. By implementing new processes, tools, and structures, you set your organization up to grow into what Salesforce has deemed, the next normal.
Build transparency with employee feedback and open communication
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, employees face ever-changing operational and strategic challenges. The first step many businesses took to re-imagine their “next normal” was to stabilize their operations. Now, many businesses are exploring and implementing their re-open strategies.
Understanding exactly where your employees need resources helps you create a successful plan to reopen your business. Reopening is also a time to refine and iterate on your plans as employees adjust. One consistency in this time of change is that collecting, incorporating, and acting on employee feedback, tied with an attitude of flexibility, sets you up to face the challenges ahead and move forward with your business.
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