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Post-covid employee engagement

Fiona Passantino, Late February 2022

As we come out of lockdown and enter the Post-Covid period in our history, listening to what we need is more important than ever. Good listening campaigns are based on many levels: the “Listen and Deliver” tight loop and the slow-burning Cultural Deep-Dive. Two very different goals, delivering different kinds of data, but together form a more accurate picture of the current state of engagement which describes “Radical Listening”.

Making policy decisions before asking might result in empty offices.

“Radical Listening” means taking every opportunity you can to ask what people want, across a variety of platforms, for all workplace cultural matters large and small. Hear what is being said and delivering results in a visible way within 48 hours. This is the way to build trust in the process of data collection so that when employee engagement survey time rolls around again, participation rates can come in higher than 12-18%.

Good listening campaigns are based on two parallel tracks: the quick turnaround “Listen and Deliver Loop”, which take a pulse, coupled with a slow-burning Deep Listen or Cultural Deep-Dive. These two start at the same time but have very different goals and deliver two very different results.

Listen-and-Deliver are weekly, short bursts of easy questions. Polls, short surveys, Mentimeter word clouds at events or Kanban board snapshots during a retrospective.

Fun, easy questions, like: “What would you most like to see once a month at the office?” with all possible answers pre-approved, pre-budgeted and deliverable within 24 hours, such as: “Mindfulness workshops, Yoga lessons, Running groups, Free fruit, Thursday Night Drinks”.

The polls run on Slack or Teams for 3-5 days, and the winning item is implemented within 48 hours. Every single time.

Long-form qualitative mixed with fast-and-furious digital surveys.

This is the way you build trust, that there’s someone at the other end of the dial listening, taking notes, agnostic to the response, and making it happen. As Listen-and-Deliver goes on, trust in the process increases, making participation in the Deep Listen track greater and more authentic.

The Deep Listen track isn’t as much fun. Longer-form surveys that take about 30 minutes to fill out, longer-form interviews, one-on-one, shadowing throughout the day. Less sexy, less interesting, but the data is much more valuable.

This project takes 6-8 weeks and asks deeper, more difficult, open-ended questions. Such as: “Why do you come to the office? What are you missing at home? How do you feel about the workload, the pace, the demands? How are the communication channels working for you; do you feel like you’re receiving all the information you need? Do you feel like you are part of the working whole, do you get what you need from your leaders, your managers and from your CEO?

With the results in, they are broadcast in a larger, visual way by people who don’t have a stake in the answers. Based on this, bigger policy shifts can be made and a general Post-Covid manifesto drawn up.

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“Radical Listening” means taking every opportunity to ask your workplace community what they want across a variety of channels and delivering results within 48 hours. In some cases done with the small, technically meaningless “Listen and Deliver” tight loops, and in some cases long and in-depth, “Deep Listen” cultural dives. And don’t forget Bean Voting.

All these listening channels have very different goals, deliver different data but together form a more accurate picture of the current state of engagement and helps build trust in the process of data collection. The point is to maximally listen and quickly deliver for your community to build trust for when it counts: the engagement surveys.