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8-step guide to launching a coronavirus employee survey program

8-step guide to launching a coronavirus employee survey program

In this uncertain time of countrywide lockdowns and social distancing, do your employees feel supported? The good news for managers, executive leaders, and HR pros who cite this as one of your top coronavirus concerns: we hear you, and we’ve got surveys that can help. We’ve worked with our survey research experts to prepare two templates that you can use to assess and monitor your organization over the coming weeks.

Why is now the time to send these surveys? Because people are feeling the insecurity, and they want an open conversation. We looked into it using SurveyMonkey Audience and found that 86% of people said it was appropriate or completely appropriate for their employer to send them surveys in the current environment, while 27% actually thought they should be getting more surveys from employers. 

So banish some uncertainty and check in. Our first survey template was created with your whole organization in mind—think of it as a leadership check-in that boosts executive visibility. The second template is more tactical, intended to help individual managers take the pulse of the employees on their team. We’ll walk you through how to successfully launch both within your organization. 

Step 1: Identify the right owner 

Choose someone who has both the interest and authority to make changes to employee working conditions, and make sure you’re ready to make changes based on the feedback you receive. The best candidate is probably a senior individual within your HR department, like a Chief People Officer, Vice President of Human Resources, or Director of Employee Engagement.

Step 2: Decide whether you need additional tools before you get started

If your organization has shifted largely to remote work and you don’t currently have a mechanism for collecting feedback on this new way of working, then you’ll probably need a survey software (like SurveyMonkey). But you might also need additional ways to communicate with employees or places to store and organize data online. Make sure you understand what you’ll need from an information perspective before you start outreach.

Step 3: Define your survey approach

Before launching your coronavirus survey program, you should have an approach and project plan in place to guide your efforts. This plan will inform the who, what, when, where and how of your survey program. Take some time to consider the following: 

  • Approach - Decide which surveys you want to send and the goal for each survey. Our recommendation is that you deploy one company-wide survey that provides overarching executive visibility and one more tactical survey for local managers. 
  • Timeline and cadence - Develop a timeline for the design and deployment of your survey, including survey deadlines, survey cadence, and dates to review results. We recommend deploying once to start, and then reassessing every 30 days. If you want to do regular check-ins, that can also be automated in SurveyMonkey. 
  • Communication - Develop an outline of key communication, including pre- and post-survey communication. We’ve included recommendations for communication below!
  • Roles and responsibilities - Determine who will play a role in the development and distribution of the survey. It’s also a good idea to nail down who will be involved in taking action based on responses. 

Step 4: Design your survey by leveraging our existing survey templates 

The next step is to design your survey. This is where our templates come in! 

The first is built for broad usage by the HR and leadership team.

The second is designed to help individual managers understand how their specific teams are coping now, and in the weeks to come.

You can adjust both surveys with the survey builder to customize them to be more specific to your organization while benefiting from benchmarking on the questions that you use from the template.

You can also brand the surveys, so that it feels like more of an internal, familiar experience. 

Step 5: Define your pre-survey communication plan 

The way you talk about your survey can have a strong impact on response rates. You’ll also want to think about both your communication strategy and your distribution lists. We’ll start with pre-survey communication. 

For your pre-survey communications, we suggest that you send both a company-wide announcement, focused on the overall company goals, and an email specific to managers and leaders within your organization, with a call to action to deploy the manager survey. 

The company-wide announcement will be the first touch point letting employees know that you are kicking off these surveys. You can share this in an all hands meeting, on a Slack channel, or via email.

Consider including the following: 

  • Timing for the survey and how it will arrive 
  • What it is measuring and why that’s important
  • How you plan to review results and take appropriate action

Managers play a critical role in this employee feedback process, including taking action based on the results. The manager-specific communication should include: 

  • An emphasis on the role that managers play and what your expectations are for their engagement
  • Reinforcement of the importance of their team’s participation in the program 

We’ve linked to both templates below. We will touch on post-survey communication later on when analyzing results. 

Step 6: Send the survey 

Now that your survey has been designed and your communication sent, the next step is to send out the survey itself. We suggest you take a different approach for the two survey programs. 

For the organization-wide survey, you can either leverage the email collector or a web link within your standard communication portal. If you want to ensure internal employee responses only, use respondent SSO to require authentication prior to survey taking. 

Set a deadline for employees to respond, and consider sending at least one reminder. A two-day window to take the survey is usually sufficient.

For the management survey, we recommend you obtain a list of managers from IT or HR, invite the managers to create accounts within SurveyMonkey (remember, we’ll be waiving overages between now and June 15) and create a workgroup to add the managers to and share the survey into. 

If you don’t want people to change the survey or see all results, you can limit the group’s permissions. Once managers are part of the workgroup, they can leverage the email collector or a web link to share the surveys with their teams. Instructions for managers have been included in the pre-communication email to managers. We recommend managers send this survey weekly using recurring surveys. That way, they can keep up to date on how their team is feeling as the world changes.

Step 7: Review results & take action

Once the surveys have been deployed, put some time in the calendar to talk about the results with key stakeholders as soon as possible. 

Focus on the areas where you’re currently best equipped to take action. This will not only make your next steps more manageable, but also help you gauge the impact from the next pulse survey. 

For the management template, ensure all managers have documentation and training on how to respond to feedback and use the data to take action. If possible, organize sessions where managers can come with questions. If not, FAQ docs can be enough to provide a manager with the tools to respond to individual employee needs.  

Step 8: Communicate the actions you’re taking after you have your results

Employees will want to know what you’re doing with their feedback. Sharing the general results of the survey and how you’re planning to respond lets them know they’re being heard. Keep updates consistent and encourage comments and feedback. Then repeat! 

Things may not be “business as usual” right now, but including a survey program in your organization’s coronavirus response can give you insight into how everyone’s doing and where extra support is needed during these coming weeks and beyond. It’s a small thing, but hopefully it can help your org feel like you’re all in it together—a feeling that has never been more important.