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Survey Results in Times of Stress


Running a survey during a time of stress such as a pandemic, office move, or layoff may feel irresponsible. Like you’re wasting time because, certainly, the results will be skewed in light of the overwhelming stress on the organization, managers, and employees. But maybe the results aren’t skewed.


In times of stress, you show up.

I was taught growing up that in times of stress, you show up. Maybe it was my southern upbringing, but when someone had a new baby, you showed up with a casserole and a pair of arms to hold the baby. When a friend’s father passed away across the country, you hopped on a plane to sit in the pew and offer a shoulder. It was the empathetic and human response. It was often hard, inconvenient, unplanned, and the right thing to do.

When employees are working through new routines of work, managing a sick family member, or dealing with burnout, why not show up? Ask yourself how you would rate on some of the classic engagement statements:


  • Leadership displays the purpose, mission, and values of the company in their actions.

  • My manager cares about me.

  • I have the resources to do my job.

  • I have balance between work and life.

  • I see myself working here one year from now.


Measure your delivery

Now go out and measure a few of these indicators. No doubt fear wants to be in the driver’s seat telling you the results will be bad. If they are, you have a starting point and an opportunity to focus efforts. Without measurement do you know how your employees are feeling? Do they know that you care?


But the results are skewed

The truth is the results are not skewed. Pulse surveys are just that – a measurement of a point in time – and the pulse survey results are the reality of your employees right now. I’ve often addressed this question of “skewed results” with senior leaders over the years. I would hear, “This is clearly a reflection of the reduction in force we are going through”, or “We just lost our best employee, the glue to the team, when the survey launched”. My favorite, “Can we remove the employees that are leaving us from the survey?” Seriously? Are they not still under our care during this time? They will soon be alumni, out in the world, spreading the inside scoop to clients, prospects, and future candidates on how great, or not great, your organization is.


My favorite, “Can we remove the employees that are leaving us from the survey?” Seriously? Are they not still under our care during this time?


There will always be something going on. And senior leaders, managers, and employees are always responsible for driving engagement and care in the workplace, regardless of the noise of the day or the fear that it may expose we aren’t leading in tough times.


It’s always time to lean in and let people know we are listening.

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