How to Tell What Your Remote Employees Are Really Thinking

How to Tell What Your Remote Employees Are Really Thinking teaser

Date published 22 Apr 2020

By Paul Murray, Senior Business Director at Metrix Consulting

Your newly remote employees tell you they’re enjoying the extra time with the family, invitations for virtual staff drinks on a Friday and the jokes about working in their pyjamas.

But do you know what they’re really thinking?

Can you be sure your staff engagement strategies are still effective now that COVID-19 has forced your workforce to work from home?

Employees are likely to be worried and juggling multiple responsibilities at home, and they’ll be reacting differently depending on their personality type, social experience and circumstances.

Do you know which groups your people sit in and how they’re likely to be reacting to this new world of work?

No employer wants to lose touch with their staff, but when those staff suddenly find themselves working from the kitchen table largely cut off from their colleagues and the buzz of the office, a traditional HR staff engagement survey no longer cuts the mustard.  

There are two key reasons for this.
  1. The traditional HR staff engagement survey, while a useful tool, does not offer the qualitative, in-depth insights provided by one-on-one interviews carried out by a skilled independent research team.
  2. When people are feeling vulnerable and insecure, they’re more likely to give you what they think you want to hear. For example, they may want to present themselves in a positive light in front of the boss so they feel they’re preserving their job security.
Other biases can also come into play, such as emphasising negative events over positive ones.
It’s why many employers, especially those with a large displaced workforce, are engaging research experts to conduct a deep dive into what their staff are really thinking and feeling as they adjust to the new ways of working.

The findings are helping them develop effective strategies to mitigate the risk of discontent, isolation and mental health issues; and of personal and work situations becoming uncomfortably, or even dangerously, intertwined.

Effective staff engagement strategies also encourage company loyalty.

Because an employee’s perception of the company they work for can literally change overnight, mapping out which employees are struggling with motivation and loyalty – and responding accordingly – can ultimately have a positive impact on how profitable your company will be.

At Metrix Consulting, we’re using a multi-faceted approach and our deep understanding of human behaviour to map the employee experience and develop effective staff engagement strategies over both the short and long term.

A quick win, for example, could be conducting an audit into how the IT experience is going. Those little things that can bug people are often an easy fix but make a big difference.

At a deeper level, we’re asking questions such as whether the organisation is properly resourced to manage people remotely. Does it have new coaching systems, training courses, buddy or mentoring systems, or stress management in place? Is there scope to split the workforce into teams, so that people can still spend some time in the office?
In the rush to return to ‘normal’, people will be reassessing what it is they want to rush back for.

Many people are already looking at their jobs through a different lens, reviewing what’s working for them and what’s not, prompting a whole new set of questions.

Post-pandemic we’re likely to see several trends accelerate, such as the move to temporary or shared workspaces in lieu of permanent offices, the adoption of new technologies, greater acceptance of work-at-home practices, and more flexible work hours.

Those employees who have been loyal, are likely to be even more loyal if they’re being looked after and this will ultimately help drive customer satisfaction.

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