With the recent move to working from anywhere or working in a hybrid environment, it has become harder for organizations and managers to gauge how their employees and team are doing. Previously, managers would rely mostly on in-person 1-1s to determine their team members’ wellbeing and happiness, both from their conversation but also visual cues. With 1-1’s now conducted remotely via Zoom for the most part, with direct reports that a manager potentially has never met, managers are struggling to understand and lead their team. In fact, only 20% of surveyed leaders believed they were effective at leading virtually. Managers are however accountable for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. A very important piece of individual satisfaction at work lies in the hands of managers that feel ineffective in a virtual setting.
Current processes such as engagement surveys will become even more important in a hybrid or remote workforce to better understand how individuals are feeling and pre-empt any issues, but surveys will have to become smarter. Employees are not “survey fatigued”, but instead are fatigued by the lack of action after filling in surveys. All too often, survey results end up at best being displayed at some town hall or all-hands but no sustainable change is seen. In fact, 60% of organizations admit doing nothing with engagement survey results or only solving easy issues. Traditional engagement surveys, focused on simply collecting data, will be replaced with “action platforms”, focused on helping organizations and managers solve their specific problems continuously.
Given recent voluntary turnover numbers fueled by the Great Resignation, costing US businesses $1 trillion every year, managers and organizations will need more continuous data than simply a once a year survey. To get a more continuous pulse on a team or organization, if we for a second forget about monitoring email or slack messages, we can imagine employees will be encouraged to fill out a small survey every other week. This small survey would help a manager better understand their team to prevent conflict and issues. My most recent research has been around what questions would most help a manager better manage their team.
In an attempt to better understand their team to avoid burnout or turnover, managers have started using more scalable quantitative tools to help them manage their team. For example, we have spoken to managers that have started sending out monthly google forms with standard engagement survey questions, or using a fortnightly slack polling tool to ask wellbeing questions. However, the questions they ask focused on simply asking how happy an employee is. However, this article has concluded that this approach is not sufficient and may even be misleading. This is because it is normal to not feel happy 100% of the day and the manager should not be pressured to fix unhappiness on the team. However, their role is to improve morale as defined as the enthusiasm and persistence individuals bring to each task.