Hearing from your employees is always important, and now is no different. In fact, with many employees working remotely or differently, it is more important than ever to check-in with your employees and assesses their experiences with the changing workplace. Below are the top 5 reasons why it is essential to conduct an employee survey now, even during the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the workplace changes it has thrust upon organizations.

1. You don’t know what you don’t know.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a new reality in workplaces across the globe. There is no denying that this fundamental shift has led to unique ways of operating for businesses and employees. The pandemic necessitated a multitude of changes and adaptations at lightning speed. It can be easy to assume that employees are doing okay and have adjusted. Yet, research from ECI’s Global Business Ethics Survey™ (GBES™) has found that during times of organizational change, observed misconduct increased.

Graph showing managing organizational changes leading to increased misconduct at work

Recent research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that the pandemic is also impacting employee mental health (22% to 35% of U.S. employees often experience symptoms of depression as they live through the COVID-19, SHRM, 2020). You owe it to your employees to ask how they are faring during this challenging time and to ask often. Meaningful questions that ask how employees are doing, uncovering their overall stress level and pressure points, gives the message that the organization cares and wants to hear from their employees.

2. You need data and metrics more than ever.

During periods of great change, reliable data is crucial for developing solutions. Employee survey data is a valuable metric under normal circumstances and is especially critical right now. Reaching out to employees during challenging times speaks volumes. You may think that with so much going on, it will be difficult for employees to focus on a survey. Our world is in flux, workplaces are in flux, but one thing remains true. Employees want to be heard.

If your organization conducts an employee survey annually, this is not the time to stop checking in with employees. Employees still need to be asked their perspectives and organizations need to take action on their feedback. That has not changed. You may need to make adjustments to the survey questions and add items specific to circumstances related to the COVID-19 context.

One thing to keep in mind is that surveying employees once a year or once every two years is most likely not going to be enough. Times of change mean that employees’ attitudes and behaviors also change frequently. Asking employees to take short pulse surveys regularly will provide you with data and metrics that feed into the strategic business decisions that many organizations are making on a daily basis.

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3. Let employees tell you how they think your organization is handling this crisis.

Organizations are navigating unprecedented challenges with some organizations rising to the occasion and even thriving while others are falling short. The best leaders understand that during difficult circumstances, employees want: 1) open and honest information, and 2) care and compassion. These tenets build a foundation of trust in leadership that creates a workplace culture that can withstand pressure and change. Paramount to the COVID-19 pandemic is employee trust that their organization is taking into consideration their health and safety. COVID-19 impacts all workplaces, and every organization is approaching the current environment in its own way. Learning from employees about how they think the organization is handling this crisis may be a difficult question to ask, yet it is critical to understand as we all continue on this long winding journey.

4. Reduce employee turnover and cultivate happier employees.

According to ECI research, 1 in 5 employees is experiencing pressure to bend the rules in the workplace, due in part to factors like meeting performance goals and deadlines, demands from supervisors or the desire to advance one’s career. Of those employees that experience such pressure, 35% said they planned to stay with their current employer for less than one year. Senior leaders and ethics and compliance practitioners who are not regularly checking in with their employees may not realize that an increase in employee turnover could be due to employees feeling the pressure.

While it might not seem like job-hopping is top of mind for those fortunate enough to remain employed during the pandemic, as the crisis slowly subsides there may be an uptick in employees assessing their organizations’ response to COVID-19. Employees may be more likely to jump ship if they are not happy with how the organization handled the pandemic. It stands to reason that if employees feel disconnected or disengaged from their organizations during this pivotal period, productivity could be impacted.

When you consider that a 2018 study by the Work Institute estimated that in 2020 the direct financial impact of employee turnover to organizations could be as high as $680 billion, employers should do everything they can to cultivate happier and less pressured employees so that they can reduce employee turnover and improve their bottom line.

“…in 2020 the direct financial impact of employee turnover to organizations could be as high as $680 billion…”

According to ECI’s 2019 GBES research, employees who plan on leaving their organizations sooner are two times more likely to indicate they are feeling pressure in the workplace.

Graph showing increased employee turnover when pressure is high

This graph from EthicsStat shows that when they face pressure, employees plan to leave their companies sooner.

5. Outside factors can influence employee feedback in different ways throughout the year.

When organizations choose to deploy culture surveys, pulse checks or other social listening tools only during the “good times,” they are depriving themselves of the broader picture of their employees’ experiences. If it has been a while since you last surveyed your employees, think back to the circumstances surrounding your organization before you surveyed. Had you recently awarded bonuses or financial incentives or perhaps, you surveyed because there was a surplus in the budget?

Now think about the current state of your organization, the economy and other factors that might influence your employees’ perceptions of your workplace. Cutbacks are happening nationally, and layoffs are affecting workplaces of all sizes. Many factors, both inside and outside of your organization, can affect employee feedback. Yet, organizations still need to hear from employees. Surveying employees through good times as well as bad ensures that you have a holistic picture and it demonstrates to employees that you want their perspectives at all times and not just when things are great.

Check-in or pulse style employee surveys are a great tool to use during these unprecedented times of COVID, because they can be affordably implemented, but still offer the ability to chart trends and gain important insights from your employees. Organizations that have awareness about their workplace culture at all times are privy to a well-rounded dataset about how employees feel, if they feel listened to and if they feel their needs are being taken into consideration.

Check-In With Your Employees Today

Employee check-in pulse surveys should be part of your comprehensive ethics and compliance program. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented changes to workplaces across the globe, and you need to be agile and implement new measurement tools to fully capture how your employees are thinking and feeling during and after these changes. Check-in surveys are a quick, affordable way to ensure that no data is left behind so that you can continue to enhance and improve your programs and culture backed by evidence.

Implement ECI’s Workplace Ethics Check Survey in as little as 1-week. ECI administers the Workplace Ethics Check in organizations of all sizes. Hands-off implementation by our research experts ensures the process is easy and painless. Fill out the form below or click the One-Touch Booking button to set up a free 15-minute chat with our survey team to find out if the Workplace Ethics Check is right for you.

Contact us today for a free consultation with an ECI survey expert. We will help you assess your needs and determine the best way to evaluate and improve your organizational culture.

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Find out how ECI Culture Assessments can give you a holistic insight into the strength of your culture based on how your employees feel. Contact us today for a free consultation with an ECI survey expert. We will help you assess your needs and determine the best way to evaluate and improve your organizational culture.

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By: Evren Esen