Back-to-Work Employee Survey: 4 Things You Should Be Asking

Marcus Erb

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MARCUS ERB

Author

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Back-to-work employee surveys should  focus on social support, and connections like “Do you still feel connected with your colleagues?” Or, “Are you getting the support that you need to go back to work safely?”

These survey questions will help you build a culture that trusts the abilities and intentions of leaders.

Recognizing employees is one way of showing appreciation, but asking questions, and seeking their ideas and feedback on how the business is managed, makes them feel that they are involved in changes.

Employees’ concerns run much deeper than protocols. Being concerned for their families and security allows them to feel that they are valued.
-GPTW Philippines

 

By Claire Hastwell and Marcus Erb.

If your return-to-work employee survey is only asking employees about face shields and hand sanitizer stations, you’re not asking the questions that will help you steer your business through the uncertainty of returning to the office after quarantine.

Employees’ concerns run much deeper than protocols. What’s crucial right now is asking employees if they:

  • Trust their leaders
  • Feel safe
  • Feel supported in coming back to work.

Those experiences will shift as quickly as the events in society, so asking thoughtful questions and listening carefully must be consistent practices during the pandemic.

Why ongoing listening is critical

Recently, I visited a brewery that had reopened their beer garden for socially distant imbibing.

A sign at the entrance read:

Please wear a mask while not seated at your table. Don’t have one? We’re selling them for $1.

Counter service is closed at this time – we will serve you at your table,

Let’s all do the right thing so we can continue to enjoy beer safely as we get through this!”

All servers were wearing their own personality-infused masks (including a cool Pac-Man one).  Scanning the beer garden, every customer who wasn’t seated was wearing a mask.

Then something interesting happened…

A group of three arrived, all without masks. One person yanked up the collar of their shirt to cover their mouth as all three maskless customers waltzed in.

The server – we’ll call her “Neeka” – politely asked them, “Do y’all have masks?” They shrugged. Neeka told them that they couldn’t order without a mask.

Neeka appealed to her colleague behind the bar (call him “Dan”) who turned to Neeka and said, “Oh, it’s OK, just make sure you have a mask next time.”

The bad behavior quickly spread throughout the beer garden. More customers walked up to order with their masks in their hands rather than on their faces. Some haphazardly hung them on their ears as they approached the ordering window.

Poor Neeka. She had turned to Dan for support, but he contradicted her and put her in the uncomfortable position of being the “bad cop.” (And poor Dan. With stronger communication from management, he might have felt more comfortable enforcing the rules.)

If you communicate proactively with employees and ask thoughtful questions, you can avoid confusing and uncomfortable situations like this while ensuring a safe and successful reopening.

Four key areas to include on your employee survey

1. Social support and connections

Are people getting the support from their coworkers that they need? Do they feel isolated or still connected with their colleagues?

To illustrate why this is so important for a successful reopening, take the brewery example again.

As Neeka tells customers that they need to wear a mask, Dan behind the bar says, “Don’t worry about it.” The employee following the regulations is left feeling alone and unsupported.

When employees feel social connection and camaraderie with their colleagues, these scenarios are less likely.

In a high-trust workplace, Neeka’s co-worker would have stepped up by her side and said, “Hey, we’d really appreciate it if you’d kindly wear a mask.”

When your employee survey asks employees how they feel about their team, you can gauge whether they’re going to do things like uphold that mask rule.

Example employee survey questions to measure social support and connections:

  •  To what extent do you feel can you count on your team to cooperate?
  •  How much does your workplace feel like a “family?”
2. Resources and support, inside and out of work

Employees need to feel like they have the tools to go to work and be safe, whether that’s working from home or in an office, a retail store or a restaurant dining room.

Support also needs to extend beyond the workplace to employees’ personal and home lives, whether it is a parent worried about childcare or anxiety over exposing their elder relatives to COVID-19.

Example employee survey questions to measure resources and support:

  •  To what extent do you feel supported to care for your responsibilities at home?
  •  To what extent do you feel financially secure for the next several months?
  •  To what extent do you have the time and tools to care for your family?
3. Confidence and clarity

Do employees trust the intentions and ability of leaders, resulting in a positive/optimistic view of the future?

Claire was looking for places to get lunch recently and found a sandwich shop on Instagram. The shop had recently posted a picture saying “Temporarily Closed,” explaining that one of their staff members had contracted COVID. So, they were closing until every member had been tested and it felt safe to reopen.

A few days later, they posted this message:

“We are happy to report that ALL of our staff tested negative for COVID-19 and that our infected team member is well and healthy!

Our greatest appreciation to our awesome team for their understanding, flexibility, and willingness to come back to make sandwiches!

Thanks to them, we’re reopening this Thursday. We will continue following sanitation and social distancing guidelines, and appreciate your compliance in order for us to keep feeding you and our community.”

This message alludes to a strong feedback loop between leadership and frontline workers. It shows that there is clear communication and employees have confidence in leadership.

Evidently, employees feel leaders responded in a way where staff had each other’s backs. They can keep going forward because they know this little sandwich shop was willing to shut down for a week and lose a little bit of revenue, which is a tough thing right now, for their safety. This is great feedback.

Example employee survey questions to measure confidence and clarity in leadership:

  • To what extent does management involve people in decisions that affect their jobs or work environment?
  • To what extent do you feel safe speaking up?

 

4. Innovation and influence

Do people feel involved in changes, or do they feel that changes are just “happening to them?”

Employers need to measure if employees feel like their ideas are sought out and listened to.  This is crucial for three reasons:

  • You’ll get better ideas as a business on how to respond to these challenges
  • Your employees will be faster to adapt to them
  • Employees will fundamentally regain a sense of trust and care because they feel like they have control and are a part of the solution.

That’s going to make whatever you decide to do way more successful.

Example survey questions to measure confidence and clarity in leadership:

  •  To what extent do you feel like management regularly seeks your ideas?
  •  To what extent do you think management is competent in running the business?

 

Reopen, safely

When employees feel safe and supported in these four areas, they can make sure the business and its customers are too.

As you can see, this really isn’t as simple as, “Let me ask you about whether we need four or 40 hand sanitizer stations in the office.” Your organization’s COVID safety measures are only going to have a positive impact if people trust them.

We designed a 10-question pulse survey – based on 30 years of studying employee experience – to use in times of crisis such as COVID-19 and beyond.
Reach out to us about it today.

Marcus Erb

Marcus Erb is vice president of data science and innovation at Great Place to Work®. He is a resourceful and collaborative analytics leader with a passion for turning data into actionable insights for executives building high-performing workplaces. Marcus uses Great Place to Work’s global employee survey data to develop leading insights for executives.  He has co-authored several research pieces, including Great Place to Work’s Innovation Insights Series and its 2018 book, “A Great Place to Work For All.”

For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work®, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ in IT-BPM 2024 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

This recognition helps attract and retain the best talent in the industry, ensuring that your organization continues to thrive with top-notch employees. Additionally, it strengthens the company’s brand as a desirable place to work, instilling pride and loyalty among current employees. It provides a significant competitive edge in the industry, showcasing the company’s dedication to employee satisfaction and well-being.

These organizations set themselves apart in the IT-BPM sector by cultivating an excellent workplace, contributing to their overall growth and success.

The IT-BPM sector is a cornerstone of the Philippine economy, known for its rapid growth and substantial contribution to employment and economic development. Companies in this industry play a pivotal role in driving innovation, enhancing business efficiency, and providing critical services on a global scale. Being recognized on the Philippines Best Workplaces in IT-BPM 2024 List not only highlights a company’s commitment to creating a positive workplace culture but also enhances its reputation in a highly competitive industry.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces™ in Asia by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2022 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 130,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:
1.  The criteria we evaluate

  •  85% concerned with Trust and Maximizing Human Potential and
  • 15% concerned with everything else

2.  Where the data comes from

  • 100% Trust Index for organizations with less than 100 employees
  • 75% based on the Trust Index survey analytics and 25% based on responses to the Culture Audit for organizations with more than 100 employees.
For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees