Six tips for using surveys to check in with staff during COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way we work. Like many local employers, MARC was forced to act fast earlier this year in response to stay-at-home orders, with only a couple of weeks to create and implement a telework program that would accommodate staff working 100% remotely. As the pandemic progressed, like employers around the country, MARC faced a new reality: telework is here to stay.

In response to this longer-term remote work reality, we assembled an internal task force to assess the efficacy of our telework program with a four-week employee survey process. Surveying employees about telework can provide many benefits — direct feedback on specific pain points to broader insights into employee wellness, culture and satisfaction.

Here are six lessons we learned from our survey process:

  1. Survey task force — Assemble a small group of diverse internal stakeholders to plan, develop, distribute and analyze survey findings. Individuals in human resources, transportation, innovation, information technology and finance helped strategize around key goals and to create buy-in across the organization.
  2. Bite-sized surveys — Long surveys can be daunting and may dissuade participation. Break up the process into smaller, bite-sized surveys (no longer than 10 minutes in length) and distribute them weekly to ease the burden and encourage participation.
  3. Topic-specific questions — Dedicate each survey to a specific topic in order to dive deep into specific organizational needs and goals. Exploring individual topics like technology, wellness, culture and operations provides meaningful insights and more profound feedback from employees.
  4. Anonymity — Anonymity encourages invaluable candid feedback but comes with a couple of catches. First, anonymous surveys can make it more difficult to respond directly to individual employee needs (For example, responding to a specific request for IT assistance). Second, if you choose to collect demographic data to get more insights on equity issues, that data may negatively impact the true anonymity of the survey. Weigh your organization’s needs and goals to determine the appropriate level of anonymity.
  5. Engagement — Survey results should be distributed widely to help employees incorporate the findings into their own roles, and to connect them with the resources they need. In addition, deeper collaboration and continued engagement with relevant leadership, internal committees, etc., is critical to making use of the data and determining innovative paths forward.
  6. Follow through — Make use of findings by assembling the survey task force on a regular basis to launch solutions, and track progress on problem areas that were identified in the survey. Delegate solutions to relevant departments so that all areas of the organization stay engaged in improving processes.  

If you’d like to learn more about developing your own employee telework surveys or to obtain survey templates, contact Natalie Phillips, employer outreach coordinator with MARC’s RideshareKC program at nphillips@marc.org.

If you’re a local government agency, you can make use of GTI’s telework consulting and training services by contacting Lauren Palmer at lpalmer@marc.org.