- As business restrictions ease, complications may arise
- Use Gallup's survey to understand the state of your workers
- Talking with employees is crucial during a crisis
For the past couple of months, a majority of U.S. employees have worked from home -- 63%, according to a Gallup Panel study from late April. As restrictions ease and those workers return to the office, leaders must facilitate conversations so their employees feel comfortable returning to work.
Explaining government and company safety policies is important, but it's just a start. Your employees need to understand the decisions of government officials and company leaders at all levels -- but those leaders also need to understand employees' thoughts, feelings, fears and individual circumstances.
To that end, Gallup has developed a "Readiness to Return to Work" survey that helps organizations and their leaders get a sense of employees' concerns, and how they differ by location and role.
Available on Gallup Access, the survey questions range from qualitative (such as how employees feel about their organization's and their coworkers' commitment to their safety and wellbeing, and whether they believe their supervisor is an active supporter of the changes that affect their workgroup) to quantitative, with questions about logistical and practical issues (such as employees' ability to travel to work safely, their ability to perform their job well while following mandatory health policies, and their need to continue caring for children or adults who cannot take care of themselves).
With this information, leaders can determine the best way for their organization to address common concerns.
Viable Plans for Returning to the Workplace
There is no time to wait, either. Gallup found sharp upticks in self-reported levels of daily stress and worry in late March/early April, and that affects employees' performance. Their wellbeing has never been of greater concern for organizational leaders and managers. However, Gallup data collected during the COVID-19 crisis show that employees who feel well-prepared to do their job and who get meaningful feedback from their manager are much less likely to report being stressed.
Prior Gallup studies show that what followers need most from their leaders during times of disruption are trust, compassion, stability and hope. Acknowledging, measuring and taking action to alleviate employees' concerns about returning to work is key to meeting all four of those employee needs.
The best managers enable performance through the conversations they have with their employees, day in and day out -- but those conversations are even more important in times of crisis.
That said, Gallup's workplace research shows that managers are critical to improving performance, employee engagement and business outcomes. The best managers enable performance through the conversations they have with their employees, day in and day out -- but those conversations are even more important in times of crisis.
Workplace survey data can help managers and local leaders learn the thoughts, feelings, fears and individual circumstances within their sphere of influence, which can be the starting point for meaningful conversations that integrate employees into a changed environment. Their comfort and wellbeing are a vital aspect of their performance -- and the viability of leaders' return-to-work plans.