Should we be asking employees for feedback during a crisis?

Across the world as the Coronavirus outbreak continues to disrupt work, senior HR leaders and Internal Communicators are pondering this question. Our suggestion is that yes, you absolutely should – now more than ever it’s critical to give employees the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns and it should be done sooner rather than later. 

Why now?

It’s more important than ever to stand together and encourage the community spirit within your organisation. In a time of uncertainty, people seek connection and involvement. They need an opportunity to share challenges and ask for help. 

As an employer, the sooner you ask for feedback, the sooner you can act on it to help employees and improve their experience. If you don’t, you might end up focusing on the wrong things without even realising!

Across our client base, since our world turned upside down only a few weeks ago, we’ve seen higher levels of engagement – the data is telling us that our employees want to be heard now more than ever. Organisations asking for feedback through our surveys have seen higher response rates, with some seeing impressive response rates of over 90%. 

Our gut instinct may be to wait until the dust settles but our early experience is telling us, employees are happy to be engaged in feedback now.

What type of feedback should we ask for?

Try to learn what is working well and what could work better. This allows you to adapt your response, pivot quickly and prioritise issues. As an organisation, it’s a good idea to assess the current baseline scores at the start of the outbreak and measure the improvements over time as you evolve your response.

There are four core elements that we’re finding organisations want to learn more about:

  • Engagement – the economy will return to normal in time and it’s essential to maintain the motivation and commitment of employees during this period
  • Wellbeing – understanding how your employees are feeling & coping with the outbreak gives valuable insight into how you can tailor the support provided
  • Productivity – harnessing a much larger remote workforce is a huge challenge and assessing the current impact on employees’ ability to work remotely is critical
  • Collaboration – how teams are working together and their dynamic within the wider business is key to maintaining business performance during the outbreak. It’s all about creating opportunities for employees to share ideas and highlight what is working well within their teams. We’re seeing more innovation around ways of working than ever before

Some useful questions to get feedback on your response include:

  • I trust our leadership team to make decisions that protect me and my colleagues
  • I have the tools and equipment I need to change my working practices
  • I have enough contact with my manager
  • I’m confident that our company will continue to take the right steps to see us through the Coronavirus outbreak

By asking for feedback now, you’ll be in an ideal position to proactively manage the pressures your employees are facing in these unprecedented times. It’s as simple as giving people a way to share their concerns, acting on those that are within your control, and discussing those that aren’t!

WorkBuzz are trying to do our bit to help so we’re offering free access to our Coronavirus Pulse survey. There’s no cost & no catch. Please get in touch with our team if you’d like our support in asking for employee feedback.

David Barker, Culture & Engagement Consultant

Demonstrate the value of remote working

We’ve all seen the evidence that shows the value of remote working – 85% of businesses see increased productivity, 90% of employees say it increases morale and 77% believe remote working can lead to lower operating costs. So why haven’t we already embraced remote working?

Owl Labs’ State of Remote Working report seems to suggest that the number one reason businesses oppose remote working is because they are reluctant to try it. With Coronavirus forcing us to work remotely, we think perceptions about remote working are about to change rapidly.

With this catalyst for changing the way we work, it’s time to demonstrate the benefits remote working can have for your business. 

How do we change the conversation around remote working?

1. Check in on your people to see how well they’ve adapted to working remotely.

Understand if they have what they need to do their jobs, how they feel about it, and what you as a leader can do to further improve either of those elements. Asking for ideas and implementing changes suggested by employees quickly will help them feel more engaged with the business and be able to take ownership of their performance and wellbeing. Trust in leadership and the decisions that are being made has never been more important.

2. Use business data that will help you measure the impact the changes have made.

Build your business case using information such as productivity measures, key performance indicators, client satisfaction scores and revenue through to staff retention and absence levels. The CIPD have created a great resource for building the business case for flexible working to get you started. Click here to download.

By linking business data with employee feedback, you’ll be able to create a compelling case to demonstrate the change remote working has made on your employee-base. 

WorkBuzz are experts at creating stories about how culture influences business performance!


If we can help you to demonstrate how remote working can work for you through times of crisis to help move your company forward in a post Coronavirus world please get in touch. Just call +44 (0) 3333 446 530 or email hello@workbuzz.com

We’re also offering a free Coronavirus survey to enable you to listen to your people in a timely manner over the next few months. You can find out more by clicking here.

Your First 90 Days – Top Tips For New CEOs

Congratulations on becoming the new CEO – it’s an exciting time for you personally and the organisation. You were chosen because of your experience as a leader and the difference you can make.

With the new office come new responsibilities, new excitement, a sense of accomplishment, and, unfortunately, a high risk of failure: within three years of the appointment, one-third of all CEOs chosen to guide US companies are gone (source: McKinsey).

The first 100 days in your new role are crucial.  You will want to make the right impression, build your credibility and show what you’re capable of delivering. Even if you’re in the same organisation, you’ll be tackling new responsibilities, or reporting into the Board for the first time.  No pressure then?

Here are our top tips for new CEOs:

Be visible

Where and how you choose to spend your time, signals to the organisation what and who you view as important.  During your first 90 days, visit the coalface, speak with front-line employees about the challenges and issues they face and deepen your understanding of how the business operates. To magnify your reach, cover this in a CEO blog, social media or other communications – show your front-line employees that you care, you’re listening and open to their feedback and suggestions.

Make an appearance at events, whether these are company-wide conferences or smaller departmental get-togethers.  You don’t have to have figured it all out – explain why you’re excited to join the company and the types of questions you’re trying to answer during your fact-finding stage.  Be open and invite their questions and suggestions – this will help shape your view of the immediate priorities, including the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.

Build relationships with the Executive Team – will they follow you?

As a new CEO, you’ll need an effective Executive Team to help share and implement your strategy. Your direct reports will want to know your management style, guiding values and whether you plan big personnel changes at the top of the organisation. Don’t be surprised to find that some colleagues may be wary, unsure of how to behave with you, or defensive. That’s because you are an unknown quantity and you are there to challenge the things that don’t work.

Engaging in an open, authentically interested and inquiring conversation helps foster trust and create effective dialogue.  Meet one a 121 basis with your Executive Team and listen to their concerns and ideas:

  • What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our organisation?
  • What do you see as the company’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • What should our top three business priorities be?
  • What is (or was) the company vision?  Do you feel aligned with it? Why?
  • What is the culture like?  Does this hinder, or support high performance? 
  • If you had a magic wand, what would you want the culture to be?  
  • What truly motivates you and if anything, what’s frustrating you right now?

Remind the Board that they made the right decision

Your Board will be looking for evidence they made the right decision in hiring you and will want to hear your assessment of the organisation as it stands. At the start, outline your 90 day plan, your fact-finding process and the tangible deliverables.  

Aim to meet with every Board member on a 121 basis – the objective is to get to know them on a personal level, understand why they’re passionate about the business and their views on the company, including strategic challenges and opportunities. 

Keep your Board updated on your progress and over-communicate – let them know who you’ve talked to, what you’ve learned, and the conclusions you’re forming. Share objective data backing up this all. This way they’ll already have the necessary information to support your agenda.

Understand the culture

It’s important to understand the culture for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it will help you to comply with (or consciously change) the organisation’s norms and ways of working. Secondly, you’ll play a central role in creating and sustaining the culture that your organisation aspires to have and that it needs to achieve its goals.

 

Does the current culture support or hinder high performance?

An organisation’s culture can be supportive of – or hinder – the implementation of new initiatives and the achievement of its overall goals.  It’s therefore important to evaluate the current culture and if there is a gap compared to the aspired culture.

An employee engagement survey can help here, by providing an objective breakdown of the culture, including strengths and areas that require change. This also helps evidence where cultural changes are needed the most and demonstrate your impact over-time.

Summary

Your first 90 days is a period of initial learning and orientation, correcting obvious problems, establishing initial credibility, and avoiding common landmines. The goal is to understand the context you are operating within and avoid making premature business judgement decisions. (Source: Gary Myszkowski, Ph.D. Senior Consultant from Executive Core).

At the end of your first 90 days, present your findings to the Board and your planned next steps.  By using objective data, you’ll help create a data-driven narrative explaining the reasons behind your strategy, helping to cement their buy-in.  Over communicate your plan – seize any opportunities to discuss this face-to-face through Town Hall meetings or at other events, and invite questions from your colleagues.  This will help win their trust and galvanise the organisation to help deliver your vision.  

It’s an exciting time for you personally and the organisation – good luck!

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