4 Ways to Prioritize the Employee Experience During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed how we communicate and work, and expanded an oft-overlooked engagement challenge to the broader working world: creating a powerful remote employee experience. Where once remote work was a perk or convenience, today it’s an essential, yet unfamiliar aspect of running a business. With the removal of face-to-face interaction, employers are finding it more difficult than ever to measure, maintain, and implement a cohesive, positive experience and culture across their workforce.

We’ve been forced into a digital transition – faster than we all expected. Despite this change the mission remains the same. While COVID-19 has shifted our everyday routines, employers must continue to find a way to maintain a happy and productive workforce. Research shows that the employee experience is a core function of any company’s operations — in fact, 94% of global talent professionals say that the employee experience will be very important in shaping the future of recruiting. Employers must still foster a sense of community despite the distance to keep employees engaged, as feeling valued is a high indicator of job performance.

During a crisis or massive change, the employee experience can easily fall to the wayside for many leaders, especially those now faced with an influx of WFHers globally. Companies would be wise to restrategize employee experience, but ignoring it altogether is a mistake.

The future ahead for teams in charge of employee experience might look dark and fraught with challenges while we navigate COVID-19 and a post-COVID world, but there’s hope: there are many strategies employers can implement to ensure that their employees feel secure and valued in this new remotely distributed workforce.

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While companies must now implement various tactics across different technology platforms to gauge team morale and performance, they still need to focus on people. Managers must outline a clear plan for team communications and at-home productivity. My colleagues at Culture Amp and I have been working on ‘the way forward’ to help focus managers on simple steps.

Here are four ways in which employers can create a powerful employee experience during COVID-19:

  1. Introduce pulse surveys to discover how employees are feeling. Using surveys and other tools to look at how employees are feeling is one of the best ways to mitigate concerns. Some teams have gone completely remote for the first time ever, and without asking for direct feedback, it’s hard to know how they are truly feeling. An employee survey is one of the best ways to check in on employee well-being and improve processes. Managers and leaders worldwide can access a free survey here.
  2. Listen — no, really listen — to employees, and adjust remote work policies accordingly. During a crisis, employees carefully observe if their employer actually cares by way of the decisions company leadership makes and the timeliness and wisdom of those decisions. Comments and questions can alert you to specific actions that may need to be adjusted to better meet the needs of employees. Do they need to log off earlier? Do they want more check-ins with their managers? Leverage employee feedback to help you improve your corporate messaging and tone to instill confidence with your employee base.
  3. Focus on areas of innovation. During these times, employees might feel that their creativity is stagnant. With many of them spending their days cooped up at home, employers must find ways to foster creativity. While you may not be physically present, employers can host virtual events for employee engagement. Whether for a professional development event or a happy hour, creativity shouldn’t take a back seat, as it may be a key driver of engagement and new ideas to take the lead in a transformed world.
  4. Anticipate and stop post-recovery turnover. Use turnover forecasting to identify the workers or groups who are likely to turnover. Act immediately to either address their issues or strategize how you can make their long-term experience better at the company, whether that’s through extra vacation time, a paid day off, or other thoughtful ideas. While you may not be able to fix everything at this time, clear messages that you understand the sacrifices they may need to make and how you will reward them for those sacrifices will ensure that they remain committed to making your organization a success during and after this crisis. Anticipating these concerns can help you diffuse situations with employees who are concerned about the future of the organization and their jobs.

It’s now more critical than ever to get the employee experience right. Listen to your employees, learn from outside resources, and develop strategies to help ease their anxieties. Navigate through this historic moment together — trust me, it’s worth it.

Kenneth Matos, Ph.D. is Director of People Science at Culture Amp. He leads a global team of psychologists and researchers who provide clients with actionable advice on collecting, understanding, and acting on employee feedback through evidence-based methodologies.

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