Using Pulse Surveys to Help Colleagues Return to the Office

empty office
Empty office

by Laura Belyea, COO at Talivest

Over the past two years our working lives have been turned upside down. But as vaccines are rolled out, and limitations come to an end, returning to the office is the next milestone many businesses can look forward to. However, easing colleagues back into the office requires a gentle approach, and a return to office after Covid plan.

Understanding colleague sentiment

It’s clear that there are mixed feelings about returning to the office. In a recent survey, four out of five employers expect resistance to it. In response, a ‘hybrid’ approach, of working (part from home and part from the office), is becoming increasingly popular. But is this the right approach for your organization?

As companies start to think about reopening their doors, some common colleague concerns are:

  • Is it safe to commute on public transport?
  • Is the office regularly disinfected?
  • Will colleagues be respectful of mask wearing when unwell?
  • Am I risking the chance of catching Covid in the office?
  • Is my job at risk if I don’t return?

Pulse Surveys

One of the best ways to get back on track is to understand colleague sentiment. A return to work pulse survey is a great way to achieve this. This quick and easy survey can measure employee sentiment, tap into growing concerns and provide businesses with data to accelerate better decisions.

A pulse survey is best circulated before colleagues return to the workplace, and will help provide feedback on the following:

  • How confident colleagues feel about travelling to work and returning to the office
  • Internal engagement and confidence levels
  • Highlight any shared concerns amongst colleagues
  • Provide valuable data to make informed choices
  • Sentiment about remote working (and any barriers)
  • Equip decision makers with information to update company policies
  • Provide insight around how to make the workplace more welcoming

Business’ need to think about how this data can be used to lure colleagues back.

Top tips for hosting a successful pulse survey

Planning ahead, here’s some key tips for getting the most out of your return to work pulse survey.

  1. What are the key questions? Hone in on the right questions you need to pose, in order to get responses you can work with.
  2. Exercise compassion. There’s no doubt this is a sensitive time for colleagues, so lead with empathy.
  3. Bespoke approach. The beauty of pulse surveys, is that they can be tailored to your needs. Use this as an opportunity to ensure the content and questions are suitable for your audience.
  4. Work backwards. Think about your objectives and how your questions can lead you there.

Interpreting the results

The beauty of pulse surveys is that they provide results in real-time, although it’s advisable to wait until the survey is closed for an accurate overview. Once results are in, review the data going through the following steps:

  • How do colleagues feel about returning to the office?

Review the data to understand the overall sentiment, looking at gaps between different departments.

Identify concerns

It should be easy to identify common concerns about returning to the workplace. Make a list of the main pain points and how you plan to address them.

  • Put actions in place

Look at practical ways you can make changes to put colleagues at ease for returning to the office and communicate these widely. Continuing to monitor progress with regular pulse surveys.

Final thoughts

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we must be agile and responsive to an ever-changing landscape. It’s understandable that some colleagues will have reservations about returning to the office. Using a pulse survey is just one way to get under the skin of these issues, and move forward considerately.

About the author

Laura’s role is to successfully support the growth and strategy for Talivest, as well as provide product support with her expertise within the HR industry. Previously posts were director of HR & operations in Telefonica, Elizabeth Arden and ICON