Getting Employee Feedback on Returning to the Office

As your team discusses the reentry phase of COVID-19—including a return to the office, or a transition to a hybrid arrangement for the foreseeable future—gathering employee feedback is likely top of mind. “Without employee buy-in, even the best-crafted [return to office] plans are likely to run into trouble,” asserts PwC.

What’s the best way to gather data and employee feedback regarding a return to the office? Pulse surveys and employee check-ins, or something else?

Why Organizations Need to Assess Employee Needs and Emotions

Gauge the personal responsibilities of your employees. Amid covid, personal and work life blended more than ever. From childcare to elderly companionship, many employees are concerned about transitioning back to in-office work, even if it’s part-time. How are you connecting with this segment of your workforce and accounting for their needs in your return to work plans?

Monitor health and safety perceptions. In January, SHRM shared that 31 percent of surveyed employees said they were not comfortable returning to the workplace. How will your organization use employee thoughts and feelings to inform your policies?

Help people transition to a new arrangement. Regardless of your return to work plan, your office environment will probably look different than it did before the pandemic. PwC reports that, “Employees are likely to expect to work in less densely configured spaces and to seek assurances that health checks are being made.” How can you help with this transition?

If you’re inspired to gather more employee feedback, here are three ideas (beyond employee surveys).

3 Ways to Check-In With Employees

  1. Form online focus groups. Before returning to the office, initiate conversations with your people. Create online focus groups to discuss preliminary return to workplace plans and solicit feedback. You’ll need to foster trust and psychological safety so participants feel comfortable sharing their opinions and concerns.
  2. Touch base with your employee resource groups (ERGs). If you want to understand distinct employee segments, reach out to ERG members. You may gain a better understanding of issues and concerns facing distinct employee groups, like working parents, people of color, and/or mental health advocates.
  3. Set up recurring dialogues. McKinsey recommends scheduling recurring conversations with employees. Although it’s important to solicit employee feedback prior to a return to the office, it’s equally important to keep those lines of communication open during the transition.

As you return to the workplace, continue to assess employee needs and emotions. If you want to expand your understanding, form online focus groups, tap members of your ERGs and set up recurring dialogues with your people. You need their buy-in.

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