Moments That Matter: Your Response To The COVID-19 Pandemic
By Brandon Riggs - March 24, 2020
We are all in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime employee experience.
Employees and organizations around the world are scrambling to quickly adapt to unexpected work and lifestyle changes—adjusting to remote work, social distancing, canceled conferences and travel, and the shutdown of restaurants and storefronts. In addition, unpredictable economic conditions on a global scale compound the nearly palpable feelings of fear, confusion, and anxiety. Whether your employees’ experience has been positive or negative, there is a general feeling of unease for the future.
Given the ambiguity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations planning to run engagement surveys this spring are now wondering if they should move forward with their annual engagement survey. It’s a fair question. Fielding an engagement survey now without making significant updates to reflect the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the employee experience would make your HR team and company leadership seem distant and detached from reality.
While it may make sense for your organization to delay your engagement survey, it would be short-sighted to deny your people an opportunity to speak up as they experience the effects and impact of COVID-19 in nearly every facet of their lives. There has never been a more important time to listen and react to the feedback, needs, and concerns of your employees.
Your employees want to provide feedback during major changes, but your approach to employee listening in this current environment will need to look different from a traditional engagement survey.
Moments That Matter
Significant change and major events are common characteristics of moments that matter, the moments in an employee’s journey that most significantly impact his or her experience with the organization.
Just as an automobile has multiple sensors arranged in its mechanisms to continuously align, measure, and optimize the internal processes needed to safely and reliably get you to your destination, a mature employee listening program leverages strategically-placed sensors across the employee lifecycle. These measure and continuously improve the moments that matter, which drive engagement, productivity, loyalty, retention of employees, the experiences of customers, perception of the brand, and long-term success of the business.
Your organization's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is without question one of the moments that matter most in the lifecycle of your employees.
Characteristics of Moments that Matter
Moments that matter are often associated with major changes, both positive and negative. Taking parental leave or managing a team for the first time are both moments that matter. In these moments, employees look to their company for support and expect fulfillment of promises made as a part of the employee value proposition.
Moments that matter can result from internal influences within the control of your organization, or may be influenced by external factors. An employee being passed over for a promotion is also moment that matters—albeit a negative one—that is within the organization's control, and the organization must take steps to prevent losing or disengaging a vital employee as a result. External factors such as the death or severe illness of an employee’s significant other are outside of the organization's control. Nevertheless, they also require careful, deliberate intervention from the organization’s representatives, to provide the support needed by the employee. The impact of COVID-19 is both internal and external to your company, but even if there is a shared understanding that your business is not to blame, it is still essential to support your people in the ways most meaningful to them.
There is a strong emotional component to moments that matter; these moments are inflection points that are often associated with ambiguity, confusion, and anxiety. In times of crisis, employees will ask themselves, “Now that I’ve done my part to support the success of my company, how will my company support me?” Your employees know what their needs are—but unless you ask, you won’t know how to support them.
This is why giving your employees a voice is more important now than ever. You must learn how to support them in the ways most meaningful to them.
What should I be asking and when?
There are no definite rules for listening to your employees in situations such as the current one, but we have developed a few ideas from discussions with our clients over the past few weeks. As we have examined the issues most relevant to employees at this time, several major themes have emerged:
- Organizational support for the needs of employees adjusting to remote work
- Constraints in performing work at the same level as before COVID-19
- Employee health and well-being
- Providing adequate support to customers
- Satisfaction with the quality and frequency of internal communications
- Job security and concerns around layoffs or furloughs
- Senior leadership communication, decision-making, and efforts to minimize health risks
In your listening strategy, you may choose to take a proactive approach, a reactive approach, or both.
For a proactive approach, it may make sense for your organization to pulse companywide, or only to certain groups within your organization, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. For more at-risk groups of employees, you may even consider reaching out daily. An agile approach to gathering consistent feedback will provide timely insight into employee sentiment as the situation rapidly evolves. Frequent pulsing will also allow you to quickly address relevant issues and concerns in company-wide communications. The approach you take will be unique to your organization; your team at Perceptyx is prepared to work with you to establish the strategy and cadence most appropriate for your company.
Your company might provide a reactive employee listening channel with an always-on survey hosted within your internal intranet or other company forum, to give employees an option for submitting their feedback or suggestions at any time. With this approach, it is important to be deliberate in communicating how the data will be used and how action may (or may not) be taken. Remember, you are working towards making employees comfortable providing feedback. Setting the appropriate expectations around how their feedback will be used will continue to drive trust with your employee base.
The Way Forward
A well-designed employee listening program will allow you to get the insights you need in real time—and provide the right data to the right people at the right time, who can take the appropriate action to continuously improve your organization.
The insights you gather throughout your organization's response to the COVID-19 pandemic will offer tremendous value as your company eventually returns to a new normal. You will have a better understanding of the moments that matter most—and the ways in which you can best engage and retain the people who power your organization.
Want to know what your employees are thinking during this unprecedented time?
The Perceptyx platform gives you the flexibility to adapt your listening strategy to rapidly changing real time events. Combined with support from our analytics experts, our platform can help you keep your finger on the pulse of your employees’ sentiments, so you can provide the support they need during these uncertain times. Get in touch to see how we can help your organization weather the COVID-19 pandemic.