Two of my biggest takeaways from the recent Connecting with Employees in Times of Distress webinar I hosted with Glint customers were community and comfort. It was clear that we are all navigating these challenging times together. And personally I was so inspired by our innovative customers—people leaders who are doing such good work and making human-centric, thoughtful decisions to support their employees and their businesses. 

Here are some of the top questions our customers asked, as well as the responses we discussed together: 

Question: Should I pulse right now?

Answer: It has never been more important to get a pulse on your organization. 

Things have changed quickly amid the pandemic. If you sent a survey just a few weeks ago to check in on employees and COVID-19, it would have made sense, for instance, to ask about their physical work environment’s safety and cleanliness. Today, with many more workers required to be at home, this question is likely less relevant. 

The right thing to do for your employees and business at this time is collect and act on feedback. And you have options. You can add a few COVID-19-related questions to an already planned survey or launch an ad hoc survey on this topic. If your employee engagement software has an “always on” feature, you can set up a virtual suggestion box and post the link in existing communication channels, such as an employee resources center. 

One of the biggest concerns customers are hearing from their stakeholders is that it feels like too much to ask employees to take a survey right now given everything they are dealing with. We don’t think of a pulse as one more thing to do—we think of it as a signal that an organization cares about its employees and values their input in navigating major change. One customer launched an ad hoc pulse and got the highest response rate they had ever seen in the first day of an employee survey, signaling people were not bothered by the request to share their opinions. 

Question: How should we act on results?

Answer: Share feedback quickly and check in again soon.

Another concern stakeholders are sharing about pulsing right now is that they might not be able to help employees with all of their needs. It is okay if you do not have all the answers or solutions. The most important reason to pulse is to give employees a voice in times of uncertainty. They understand that you cannot solve everything, but you can still use their insights to assess and prioritize employee needs, surface strengths and gaps in your communication strategy, or look at specific roles or populations that may require extra support. This feedback will be extremely beneficial in both the short and long term as you evolve your plans.   

We also suggest getting survey results into your managers’ hands so they can have conversations with their teams about the feedback. This exponentially increases the number of people outside of HR and emergency response teams who can take action and provide help to others.  

We also suggest following up frequently given the pace of change in this environment. Think about when you’ll deploy your next pulse. That said, don’t be too rigid. Instead, commit to key principles that help people feel valued and supported in any scenario: giving them frequent opportunities to share feedback; encouraging regular conversations about their needs; and involving them in shaping an experience that helps them weather this challenging time.

Question: What if my engagement survey closed just a few weeks ago?

Answer: Apply recent employee engagement data to today’s environment. 

Many customers have employee engagement survey results from the past few weeks or months that may not feel instantly applicable to the world that we are living in today. 

If you’re in this situation, you can still review your most recent engagement results and think about what aspects of the data would make sense to address while in the midst of this pandemic. For example, if transparency was an area of opportunity, how can you make sure you are being as candid and straightforward as possible with your plans and communications around this crisis? 

If there are areas in your recent survey feedback that are important but not time sensitive (for example, career pathing might have been lower scoring, but it is less urgent right now), table them for a later time so you can give them the attention they deserve. Also, let employees know when you are sharing survey results and which areas you will or will not take action on. They will appreciate your candor and honesty. 

One customer also shared that they had closed their global engagement survey right before the global pandemic spiked, so didn’t feel they received enough clear feedback on COVID-19. They chose to leverage an “always on” or virtual suggestion box survey for COVID-19-specific feedback. This didn’t require a big communications effort or overwhelm managers who were in the process of reviewing their engagement results. And it gave employees a place to provide feedback or ideas, which they can revisit as needs change over the next few months. 

We are facing unprecedented times, and we are all in this together. Our work as people leaders has never been more important. It is vital that we lean on each other, learn from one another, and be kind to ourselves during these challenging times. 

Looking for more resources? Check out two valuable toolkits: Manager Toolkit for COVID-19 and How to Survey Employees During COVID-19 and What to Ask.