As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and employee burnout remains high, employers are rightly reaching for new ways to promote well-being. They’re also seeking better ways to understand employee engagement and the collective health of their organizations.

“Zoom fatigue, isolation, work-life tensions, and competing priorities threaten organizations’ cohesion and productivity,” observed Harvard Business School Professor Bill Kerr in a recent episode of his “Managing the Future of Work” podcast with Justin Black, head of People Science at Glint. The conversation centered on the benefits of agile employee engagement—especially in times of uncertainty and rapid change.

While the episode originally aired in October 2020, the themes remain relevant well into 2021 as the pandemic and economic turbulence continue. For the full scoop, listen to the entire podcast. Here are some highlights:

Keep asking employees what they need

Some organizations worry that employees feel inundated—and fatigued—by surveys. But Justin says employees want assurance, more than ever, that employers are listening. In fact, he recommends frequent, shorter surveys, referred to as “pulses.” 

His take on employee attitudes about surveys in the past year? “Thank you for asking,” Justin says. “It means so much that you asked, even though you knew we’d say we’re not doing so hot.” 

Everyone wants to belong

While surveys help organizations uncover new insights, Justin reminds leaders that some issues are universal. “You don’t need a survey to tell you employees want a sense of belonging,” he says. “[Belonging] is a stronger predictor of engagement than how people feel about their career-growth potential.”

But surveys can be helpful in identifying opportunities to strengthen belonging, and Glint data shows that certain populations are particularly hurting. “These hotspots in organizations need to be surfaced and addressed in an authentic way,” Justin says. “Many companies are on this journey right now, and it starts with knowing where they are.” 

Act in the moment

Prior to the pandemic, Glint’s forward-leaning customers would typically run three employee engagement surveys per year, Justin says. That jumped to as many as seven pulses in 2020 as organizations sought insights on well-being, resources, and home situations to understand how to respond to employee needs in the moment. 

Once feedback is collected, it’s important to respond with action. Organizations have taken steps in the past year such as adjusting flex-work policies or giving the whole company a day off to rest and recover when burnout signals are high. 

In fact, taking swift action is the best way for organizations to prevent survey fatigue since employees will see the value in sharing their thoughts and opinions. As Justin points out, any useful feedback program depends on people’s good faith—their trust and belief that their input will ultimately help them “be happier and more successful at work.”  

To hear the full conversation and more of Justin’s insights, listen to the 30-minute podcast.