Employee Experience

New ways of working: How to effectively support your people

July 8, 2020 // 6 min read

As your people start returning to workplaces, listening and acting on their feedback is more important than ever. Here’s how to do it effectively...

Adjusting to new workplace norms amid the ongoing pandemic will take time and significant change management. Many employees are adapting to new ways of working as the employee experience continues to change in dramatic ways.

As a result, listening to and acting on employee feedback is more important than ever. Rather than only gathering feedback through an annual engagement survey, it’s critical to also establish an ongoing conversation with employees where they can share in-the-moment feedback on how they’re adjusting in a dynamic environment.

To help organizations maintain a conversation with employees throughout the transition, our team of Industrial Organizational Psychologists have developed the Return to Work Ongoing Pulse.

The feedback gathered through this pulse becomes leadership’s go-to source while navigating through this new phase of back to business as they help employees adapt to new ways of working.

Your 4-step plan to get your people back to work

Step 1: Assess your organization's needs

Every organization is different, you’ll first need to answer these questions to build the foundation of your plan:

  • Do you want to frequently check in with employees on their well-being?
  • Do you have employees who will be returning to an office or other physical on-site location?
  • Do you have employees who will work remotely long-term?
  • Do you have employees who will be returning from furlough, leave of absence (LOA), or layoff that need to be re-integrated?
  • Do you want to ask questions specifically of your managers or executive leaders regarding leading through these changes?
  • Do you want to understand how employees are feeling about resuming business travel?

Step 2: Assess your employees’ needs

The Return to Work Ongoing Pulse is a multi-dimensional solution that assesses the specific needs from all corners of your organization. Including your people who are returning onsite, employees continuing to work remotely, employees returning from furlough, leave of absence, and those who’ve been made redundant.

Use the fully customizable, targeted question blocks for each employee segment to find out:

  • How comfortable employees feel returning to the workplace
  • Specific concerns they have returning to the workplace

You’ll also want to frequently check in on employee well-being. The Return to Work Ongoing Pulse gives you three short questions to assess current workforce morale, and what your organization is doing and can do to positively influence employees’ well-being.

Now is the ideal time to check in with employees who have returned on-site to gather insights on the most pressing topics during the immediate return to work phase. Including:

  • Any health & safety, or comfort concerns they have
  • How well they understand the latest safety policies and procedures
  • Their confidence in safety measures being taken by the organization

It’s also important to check-in with your remote employees to ensure they are supported, productive, and enabled.

Make sure you fully understand the unique needs of temporary remote employees, those who regularly worked remotely prior to COVID-19, as well as those for whom long-term remote work will be new.

Use the Return to Work Ongoing Pulse to gather information on:

  • Remote work preferences and productivity
  • Barriers and benefits of remote work
  • Remote work support and resources

Listen to all corners of your organization

If you have furloughed employees returning to work, it’s crucial to make sure their voices are also heard. As well those people who may have been forced to take a leave of absence due to personal responsibilities, such as childcare.

These employees may find that many things have changed upon returning to the workplace and will need support re-integrating.

Use the Return to Work Ongoing Pulse to understand employee sentiment around:

  • Role re-integration and upskilling, including effective communication of changes and training
  • Benefits and Resources, including understanding of what is available, effectiveness of communication, and additional needs

Managers will also need support. Get feedback on the areas they need to get right to successfully lead employees through this transition and prepare them for the new ways of working, including:

  • Challenges related to managing remote teams
  • Availability of tools/resources
  • Communication from senior leadership

And finally, deep dive into other topics such as:

  • Executive Alignment: streamlining communication and decision making in the context of shifting business priorities
  • Resilience: employees feeling in control, supported, and confident in themselves and the future of the company
  • Communication: how well communications are landing for employees
  • Work-Life Balance: employees’ ability to effectively balance work and personal lives
  • Travel Comfort: employees general comfort traveling and what their top concerns are about resuming business travel

Step 3: Analyze the data and results

Most organizations now have a special COVID-19 taskforce or committee consisting of business leaders, business continuity teams, Human Resources, and communications professionals.

All the data collected from your Return to Work Ongoing Pulse should be provided to your COVID-19 taskforce. The insights will help them make informed decisions quickly and tailor policies, protocols, and communications to employees during this uncertain and rapidly evolving environment.

Step 4: Take action

Once you have these insights, it’s crucial to take action. Make sure you:

  • Prioritize actions - identify your lowest scoring questions as a starting point
  • Leverage open-ended comments - this will help you to understand what’s top-of-mind for employees
  • Communicate results - share what you've learned with your people for alignment
  • Close gaps between groups - get support to the groups that need it the most
  • Look for ideas and solutions from your employees - use the open text comment suggestions to kick-start your next steps


Start listening and taking action. Get start with the Return To Work Ongoing Pulse

Lauren Rice // Principal EX Consultant

Lauren is a Principal Consultant – Employee Experience for Qualtrics, supporting clients in designing and scaling employee experience programs. Prior to Qualtrics, Lauren was part of Johnson & Johnson’s HR Workforce Analytics team where she helped lead J&J’s employee survey program. Lauren earned her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Georgia, and holds a B.S. in Psychology from High Point University. She is an active member of the Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

Tara Di Domenico // Principal Employee Experience (EX) Consultant

Tara is a Principal Consultant, Employee Experience for Qualtrics, supporting clients in designing and scaling employee experience programs. She has deep expertise helping organizations create workplaces that are both engaging and productive. She has 10+ years of experience consulting with senior leaders and Fortune 500 companies and holds a Masters Degree in I/O Psychology from New York University.

Tika Wadhwa // Principal Employee Experience (EX) Consultant

Tika is a Principal Consultant – Employee Experience for Qualtrics, supporting clients in designing and scaling employee experience programs. She has deep expertise in coaching leaders and organizations to lead change initiatives to significantly enhance the employee experience. A prosci certified change management practitioner, she has 10+ years of experience consulting with senior leaders of many Fortune 500 companies. Tika holds a Masters Degree in I/O Psychology from Claremont Graduate University and a Bachelors in Economics from DePauw University.

Yesenia Cancel // Associate Consultant - Employee Experience, Qualtrics

Yesenia is an Associate Consultant – Employee Experience for Qualtrics, supporting clients to develop customized, strategic employee listening programs designed to improve organizational outcomes. Yesenia has focused on survey design, analysis, and data storytelling throughout her career. Yesenia earned her MS in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida, and holds a B.S. in Psychology from Iowa State University.

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