Asking Your Employees the Right Questions Has Never Been More Important

Asking Employees The Right Questions

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One of HR’s biggest challenges at the moment is maintaining employee engagement throughout this period of enforced organisational change. 

When situations like this occur, we go into a crisis mode, and engagement often slips down leaders’ list of priorities—a rookie error. Engagement should always be near the top of that list, partially because every organisation has an obligation to its people, but also because when they are happy, they’re more productive and perform better. 

But in times like these, engagement (and engagement surveys) can also be the best way to gauge how we’re dealing with the situation. After all—nobody knows how organisational change will affect your employees’ ability to do their work better than your employees themselves.

But what surveying approach should you take and what sort of questions should you ask? Here to cover off some of our own customers’ burning questions, and share a few example survey questions from our Covid-19 Question Bank, is Ryan Tahmassebi, our Director of People Science.

Why is it so important to be gathering employee feedback during this pandemic?

“People are scared, unsettled and uncertain—so organisations need to be empathetic and compassionate. Take the time to listen to them, so you can properly support them and make sure they feel connected and ‘together’.

“Remember that employees will also be making big judgements on their employers based on how they’re reacting (and proacting). And because we’re in uncharted territory, getting as much feedback as possible on what is and isn’t working—and ideas on what else might work— is key to getting it right. 

“As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Now is not the time to make your people feel safe, secure and valuable.

“Be human. Be compassionate. Be kind.”

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What sort of question themes should organisations be focusing on?

“Leadership and wellbeing. But leadership is going to be the most critical factor in all of this. Your people need strong leadership now more than ever—and they will be forming stronger and clearer perceptions of the organisation based on how its leaders are responding to this crisis. 

“Wellbeing is, of course, going to be hugely impacted by all of this, as we are all seeing such huge changes to our personal and professional lives. Understanding how people are feeling psychologically, and how they are managing to cope with the additional pressures during this time, will be key to offering the best possible support.”

How should organisations expect the pandemic to impact response rates and results?

“It’s likely to increase response rates, with employees keen to give feedback on something which is so pertinent and relevant to them. But as always, response rates will be influenced by other factors—such as confidence in the feedback not falling on deaf ears and being addressed.

“So far, we have seen some spikes in employer advocacy—probably due to how impressed employees have been with the organisational response to coronavirus and how they have continued to be engaged with and listened to; free-text comments left at the end of surveys have certainly supported this.”

How should leaders and managers respond to the feedback they receive?

“Conversations. As many of them as possible. No judgements, no pre-defined narrative or ideas on what to do—truly listen to your people, hear what they’re saying and try to understand how they are feeling. Explore any suggestions or solutions they make further, empower them and create the leader in every individual in your team.  

“There’s an element of vulnerability in all of this. Every one one of us is affected, and we’re all feeling a little uncertain. So just be open, and accept that we all need support and that we won’t always get everything right. But if you respond to the feedback in the right way and demonstrate authenticity in wanting to support people, they’ll recognise you for it.”

5 Questions To Ask Your People

At Hive, we’ve developed a COVID-19 question bank that we tailor to our customers’ needs. It’s designed to focus on the key aspects of the pandemic and how it is affecting your people. Here are five examples of questions that should be a part of your survey: 

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5 Sample COVID-19 Questions

  1. We are receiving timely communications from my company about the COVID-19 Pandemic

  2. I feel proud of how our organisation is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

  3. I feel mentally well at the moment

  4. We are staying connected as a team/colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic

  5. I believe appropriate precautions have been made to keep me safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

And remember—you’re not limited to surveys! Hive Suggestions is a digital open-door policy, allowing your people to speak up at any time about anything. 

We’re all responding to this crisis as best we can and adapting to the new ‘normal’, but we can’t lose sight of the importance of giving people a voice at this critical time.

Many employees are facing some of the most challenging times of their career, and how you choose to listen and act will affect how you find your way to the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Already a Hive customer? Just get in touch with your CS rep or email and we’ll introduce you to our full question bank and help you set up a survey.

Not yet a Hive customer? Drop us a message at if you’d like to know more about the Hive’s platform and people science support, or book a demo.

Free EBook

Creating Employee Surveys that Work for Your Organisation

Covering everything from getting leaders on board and designing a strategy, to writing good questions and getting started with results, this ebook will give you a jumpstart on all things employee feedback and get you well-prepared for your timely new survey launch!

Creating Employee Surveys that Work for Your Organisation