At Culture Amp, we recommend only surveying as often as you can close the loop, meaning communicating and acting on your results. However we also recognize that, during times of crisis, getting employee feedback on rapidly changing situations usually means surveying more often. In this article we’ll discuss how to understand, act and communicate your results at a much faster rate than normal while taking a pulsing approach. What this looks like for your first time around will be different than for following pulses, so we’ve broken up this article into two sections. We’ll start with your first time around.
Closing the loop on your first pulse
Set yourself up for action
There are some things you can do before you even get results that will set you up for speedy action:
- Decide how long your collect, understand, and act cycle will take. During an emergency. our recommendation is to keep your survey open for 3-5 days, review results for one day, and, finally, communicate findings and commit to action the following day. Thus the whole process should take approximately one week. This allows you to move through the process quickly and take action where it’s needed on a cadence that is most impactful for your employees.
- Determine who is part of your emergency/pulse response team.
- Identify who is responsible for taking action on what (by item or section) so you don’t need to make accountability decisions later on.
- Brainstorm potential actions you could take for each topic.
- Tailor your inspiration engine so you can serve up resources right alongside the results.
- Create your shared reports so when the survey closes, you can immediately publish and notify viewers, or publish as a participation report first so leaders can encourage participation for their groups!
Share the results
Once your survey has closed, you will want to share results with the rest of your organization. You likely have a way that you typically share survey results, but don’t feel tied to that now. In the interest of moving quickly, we recommend:
- First sharing full results (including all demographics) with anyone who is part of the emergency response team
- Then, if your questions aren’t very sensitive, consider sharing company-wide results with limited demographics (no comments and no heatmap) to all employees. This will be easier to manage and give everyone a broad view into where help is needed, activating employees to take their own actions or more actively support company-wide initiatives (more on this in the Acting section). When deciding which demographics to include, a good guiding question is “would they be able to take action on this demographic?”
- You may also choose that you want to only share results directly with managers or department leads, if there are clear actions they could take to support their respective groups.
Focus your response
As with understanding any survey results, make sure to use the impact analysis to understand what items will have the strongest impact on employee’s confidence in your emergency response. In addition to looking at which items are high impact, you may want to also consider two lenses to interpret data by:
How to identify
What to do
Look at favorability of question
If employees are feeling concerned with the organization’s ability to support customers during this time
May require a new policy, plan, or clearer communications
Look at demographic spreads to see if certain groups are disproportionately affected
If parents are having a more difficult time being effective while working from home.
Targeted action or support
It can be natural to want to do it all, and feel like everything is on fire in a crisis situation. But now, more than ever, it’s important to focus your efforts to be able to have the largest impact. In times like these, find the greatest need and start by taking action there. When pulsing, your focus may change from week to week, and that’s okay! A communicated focus will make it more clear to your employees what to expect and how they can help.
Take (and democratize) action
At Culture Amp we love a good ideation session as much as anyone, but now isn’t the time to get fancy. Ideating is really important when topics require further unpacking to get to the right solution but in a pulse usually the questions are more specific and lend themselves to direct actions. For example, if employees don’t know where to find your updated policy, it’s time to figure out a new comms strategy for the policy. Check out our recommendations for organizational action in our CAT course.
Now we’re going to focus on getting all employees to participate in action. Remember that you can (and should) lean on everyone during this time. It will take all hands on deck to get through this.
Some companies are successful by doubling down on their managers.
You can’t talk to each employee directly, but your managers do, so use them to amplify any actions the company is taking. Also encourage managers to review results and see what actions they can take at a team-level.
- Create an FAQs sheet so managers know how to respond to common questions, and the talking points they should follow. Make sure to include links to the actions you’re taking so it’s reinforced by managers in addition to the all company communications.
- Develop resources related to your focus area. For example, if you’re focusing on health and well-being, what are questions your managers could ask their direct reports to learn more and resources they should be sending along? If you already have resources created you can tailor your inspiration engine so managers get those resources right along with their results.
- Encourage your manager to discuss results of your survey in 1:1s and team meetings. They should try to spend some time quickly unpacking results and seeing how they can best directly support their teams.
Here are some easy ways to get others involved:
- Encourage folks to share ideas! This is an action in itself. For example, have employees share their recommendations for staying mentally and physically healthy during this time via the survey itself or other channels of broader communication.
- Harness the expertise of your employees! For example, you may not have content on how to work productively from home, but you may have an employee who has worked from home previously and would be happy to run a lunch and learn session..
- Remember to share out any organizational level initiatives and outline how employees can support these initiatives themselves. For example, you may provide a stipend for employees to purchase necessary tools to work effectively from home. Encourage various leaders to share this among their own groups and think outside the box when it comes to who is considered leadership (e.g., ERG leaders).
To truly democratize action, activate all your employees, by giving them:
- Empowerment - give them the permission to take ownership of action
- Direction - tell them what to focus on
- Resources - that will help them create action
Importantly, resources don't only mean money. There are plenty of actions your employees can take without spending a dime. Instead make sure you give employees the tools, the time (e.g., at Culture Amp we gave all employees a half day to set up their virtual working environment), and ideas (e.g., actions can be as simple as sharing webinars or other open-source resources targeted to a specific area).
Communicate your findings and action
The impact of an action is directly proportional to the communications around said action. If you’re taking action but no one knows about it, it won’t have the intended effect. For communications to be effective, make sure you’re posting them across various channels (e.g., email, Slack, videos). Here's a comms template of how to close the loop. We recommend encouraging leaders to create their own and share results for their specific teams, in 1:1s, and in their respective communication channels, as well.
Continuing the loop for second and sequential pulses
For your second and following pulses, the process will look a little different. In general you should be shifting focus from spinning up net new things, to assessing and pivoting your current response. While the questions you ask in each survey may (and likely will) shift based on the current situation, you will want to ensure you maintain the questions that you took specific action on in order to determine how effective your response is.
Understand how things are changing
When you dig into your following pulse survey results, you’ll want to focus on what has changed. To do so, you’ll need to load your previous results (where questions match) as an internal benchmark. Look for where there are the largest differences over time. Consider where you have improved, but also where new opportunities present themselves. You should also drill into the spread of scores by demographic to see if your targeted actions have had the intended effect.
Pivot your approach
Since your previous actions were related to specific questions, you should be able to quickly assess if they are working or not.
- If they are, that’s great! Continue what you’re doing and see if there’s something new you should be focusing on.
- If they’re working for particular groups but not others, dig into the comments to understand why not. It could be that some groups aren’t aware of the action and communication could be improved, or it could be that the group requires a different action.
- If the actions aren’t working, go back to the drawing board. Are there any groups that are particularly high in that focus area that you can learn from and share with the rest of the organization?
For example, at Culture Amp our CEO Didier started doing daily video updates (#DidsVids). The survey results showed these were working but employees wanted to hear from the rest of the executive team, too. So instead of implementing something new, we pivoted and double downed on something that was already working by having other leaders do a guest video every Friday in place of the daily update.
Close the loop
As you continue in your pulsing plan, it can be easy for communications to fall by the wayside in favor of spinning up new actions. Use this simple communications template to keep the comms coming! Again, we recommend encouraging leaders within the organization to write their own version using this same template to share with their department.
Iterate as you go
You may realize as you go that you aren’t able to act as quickly as you thought or the situation may plateau, meaning you don’t need to survey as often as you originally planned. It’s okay to remain agile and decrease your cadence as needed. A decrease in participation over time is also an indication to take things slower and focus on closing the loop before opening up a new survey. We know pulsing and taking action quickly is hard, so celebrate the small wins you get along the way. If you have any questions as you pulse, don’t hesitate to chat with Support.