Would a survey in the workplace improve our understanding of mental health?

The US Census Bureau has been collecting data on differing types of personal experiences we have endured around the isolation of the global Pandemic. To best analyze real-time snapshots of anxiety, depression and delays in medical care, these surveys will seek feedback to questions around health issues, physical and mental wellbeing of an individual. Therefore, is our future emotional and physical condition at risk?

Consider the taxing mental state of staff as they are being asked to return to the office: have you (management) inquired about your teams’ confidence levels around: using public transit; the anxiety of leaving a safe ‘bubble of trust;’ or a desire for flexible scheduling to account for safe distancing?

Every organization is as different as an individual. It stands to reason that comprehending the emotions of your team is a responsibility of every business. Anxiety could be caused by a lack of trust in management to maintain a safe environment. Being the boss means you need to show empathy, transparency and sympathy. Covid safety measures matters.  This means there is a big difference from yesterday’s style of business management as usual. Your workspace cocoons your workforce: proper alignment of the two is critical to a company’s survival and growth.

The simple act of asking employees for feedback will help build trust. Every organization should strive to reduce employee distress, avoid burnout and disengagement. Answers to well thought out questions will provide information most relevant to your business at the time they are asked to create a better way forward.

The goal is to maintain an engaged workforce for greater productivity, retention, satisfaction, and profitability. An emotionally driven survey offers tools that can identify issues and strategize for improved engagement. During a crisis, strong leaders should question their own management styles, balancing the needs of people against the organization.  Every survey should generate clear and actionable feedback about how best to support the teams. Once management analyzes and communicates results, explaining pending actions will demonstrate a commitment to well-being.

A Pandemic survey enables you to make better use of today’s resources to address tomorrow’s concerns. Employees might still have a level of anxiety around job security, likely tied to a lack of trust around business continuity. With empathy, authenticity, and inclusiveness, management can combat employee uncertainty and anxiety with positive reinforcement. The simple act of asking for feedback will increase confidence levels every organization should strive for to reduce distress and dissatisfaction. Answers will provide positive and negative feedback, yet any information relevant to organizational improvement serves a purpose.

“…The quality of survey data sets a baseline…having a survey…not only gives important information for policies and decisions…but is also an asset for examining the impact of major events,” Dr. Stephen Blumberg, NHIS

Asking the right questions is the starting point for continuous improvement. Instead of asking the worker if management is doing a good job, ask more specific behavioral questions. Use engagement statements that focus on what matters to their experience: l intend, I would recommend, or I am proud of is a great way to start an inquiry.  Culture questions revolve around company value and brand. Behavioral questions encourage thoughts on innovation, risk, opportunity and service.  Open-ended questions address culture, management to staff relationships, performance management and leadership styles.  Situation specific statements or trust specific statements provide additional insight.  Questions around wellbeing i.e. productivity, resiliency, energy, or company support, helps analyze mental, social, and economic health.

Caring managers build trust to navigate the unknown. Execute transparent surveys that reassure confidentiality, with no fear of retaliation for honesty. Seek answers to questions that provide context around sensitive and personal issues. Teams will share detailed versions of their experiences when they feel heard in a high-trust company culture.

Employees will answer questions around health and well-being. Measure sentiment, gather feedback and interpret levels of job satisfaction, motivation and retention. While the best surveys are targeted, they are but one tool to gaining insight. Take action following all methods of information gathering, but avoid asking unreasonable questions, over-reacting and using poor timing to measure employee sentiment.