By Melissa Arronte
Employee Experience Solution Principal, Medallia
Wellbeing in the workforce has become top of mind for workers and executives alike, but recent research from Deloitte reveals there’s a big disconnect between how leaders and individual team members rate the health of their workplace.
While 77% of C-suite leaders say the mental health of their workforce has improved over the past year, only 33% of workers feel the same way. Notably, only 3% of executives report witnessing a decline in employee wellbeing, but 25% of employees say things are worse.
The stark contrast between what workers report about how they’re doing on the job versus what executives say about their team members signals an urgent need for leaders across organizations to implement new and more effective strategies for monitoring, addressing and improving employee wellbeing. This responsibility should not fall solely on the HR department, and companies who get leaders across levels more involved in these endeavors can see greater means for change.
The findings from Deloitte indicate that companies may be missing out on crucial insights into their own employees’ behaviors and feelings. Before companies can address worsening employee wellbeing, they need to understand what the term wellbeing means to individual team members and then align all personnel, including C-suite leaders, on a shared definition moving forward.
Once that’s been established, businesses need to figure out when and why certain employees may feel like things are getting worse. That way, leaders can proactively intervene and prevent issues for their team members. Checking in with employees frequently is crucial as workers might start out the day feeling hopeful, excited and engaged, but grow more frustrated as they navigate inefficient processes or overly complicated systems in the course of doing their jobs.
Getting a sense of how employees feel is something good managers are already doing in an informal capacity via ongoing one-on-one and staff meetings. That said, the daily demands of work can make it challenging for even the best supervisors to stay on top of what’s going on at all times, which is where technology comes into play.
Frustrating and challenging employee experiences can arise at a moment’s notice for an array of reasons. As a result, teams need tools to unlock insights in real-time to get a pulse on what and when something is occurring that can trigger negative sentiments from employees.
Anytime surveys are one type of technology solution that can be used to capture employee feedback in these moments that matter. Unlike traditional employee feedback surveys, which typically get rolled out on a quarterly or annual basis and contain dozens of questions, anytime surveys are available at all times and contain only a few focused questions. This gives team members a much-needed platform to share exactly what’s on their minds whenever they want to.
As a complement to recurring one-on-one and staff check-ins, anytime surveys enable managers to get more systematic information from everyone on their team on an ongoing basis so they can better identify what’s happening and when it’s taking place to understand how shifting dynamics are impacting the employee experience and solve for points of friction at scale.
These quick surveys can be easily embedded in employees’ regular flow of work, whether in an employee portal, intranet, business app or a company-issued device. Employers can use anytime surveys to drill into what’s happening with employee well-being with prompts that ask workers to rate their overall wellbeing on a scale, use dropdown choices to indicate what’s causing a change in their mental health (e.g., managers, customers, systems, tools, etc.) and to share more details about what’s going on via text-based replies or video recordings to open-ended questions.
Well-designed, anytime surveys are bound to generate a wealth of data and insights, but some managers may not have the time to sift through and make sense of all of the responses. This is when text and speech analytics can come into play, as they are two other critical technologies that can help leaders better understand employee sentiment while managing their own workloads. These AI-powered solutions are designed to instantly analyze and draw meaning from unstructured text and video content, such as employee responses to anytime surveys, and immediately generate a list of the top topics and themes that have been discussed. They can then provide an analysis of the sentiment of these conversations (whether they’re positive, negative or neutral) and detect the emotions associated with the responses. Armed with this information, managers can flag any issues that have been raised via an email to the team or during a staff meeting to address what’s going on ASAP.
For example, if after rolling out a new team policy, employees start raising concerns via the company’s anytime survey about how the change will impact their mental health, managers can use speech and text analytics to gain visibility about the issue right away and work on a solution to take action instead of waiting until the problem becomes bigger over time.
Text analytics can also be used to compare discrepancies between employees, including those who self-report a positive workplace wellbeing versus those who report a negative one. For instance, companies may find certain segments of employees are more likely to report a negative wellbeing than other segments who may feel more supported on the job. These types of findings can shed light on new approaches leaders throughout the enterprise can take to improve experiences across the board.
While anytime surveys paired with text and speech analytics are great for identifying what’s going on and why, crowdsourcing capabilities are also powerful for acting on employee insights. Once managers have identified the known issues their team members are reporting, they can use crowdsourcing technology to gather potential solutions to these problems directly from employees, empowering them to take part in creating the environment in which they want to work.
Historically, the HR team has typically been responsible for collecting and analyzing employee feedback on an annual or quarterly basis, but anytime surveys, text and speech analytics and crowdsourcing make it possible for managers across departments of the enterprise to take an immediate, active role in monitoring what’s happening on the ground with their teams and implement strategies to improve employee wellbeing in the moment.
Over time, as leaders across the organization monitor employee wellbeing more frequently and take steps to intervene, companies can expect to see metrics like turnover and productivity improve as employees can feel more inspired and motivated by having their ideas and voices heard.
Melissa Arronte is employee experience solution principal at Medallia. She has over 15 years of experience in employee survey research and more than 20 years of experience in HR. She started her career at Towers Watson. She also was the head of HR analytics for Liberty Mutual Insurance for nine years. She was the senior vice president, head of HR analytics at Citizens Bank and most recently the head of customer research at Citizens.