Employee Surveys, Pandemic Safety and Corporate Filter Bubbles

Employee Surveys

You don’t need employee surveys to tell you that people aren’t logical. Just look around at the Summer 2020 Coronavirus surge. Despite clear safety precautions for mitigating the spread of the virus and reducing the resulting deaths, here we are with out of control virus spread in many parts of the country and a large enough portion of the U.S. eschewing safety protocols for a variety of reasons. Seems crazy right? Wrong. The science is settled: People are emotional creatures and typically make decisions emotionally and then try to support them logically.

You do need employee surveys, however, to alert you to employee attitudes toward polarizing issues that affect their responsiveness to corporate policy. Given the current need for new safety protocols and careful compliance in the workplace for the foreseeable future, organizations would be wise to understand how their employees view the current environment.

The Corporate Filter Bubble

One of the many lessons the Summer of 2020 is teaching us is that we all can look crazy to each other when viewed from each other’s personal filter bubbles. Filter Bubble is a term coined by Eli Pariser in his book, The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think. It describes how our constant connection to personalized technology platforms like Google, Facebook and others give us a view into our world that tells us exactly what we want to hear. 

Algorithms “learn us” and tailor content to reflect our interests and preferences. Those algorithms have learned that we strongly respond to inflammatory content so in today’s filter bubbles we tend to see the world as either directly in line with our beliefs or directly  threatening our beliefs.

As your organization looks to comply with both mandated and market-driven safety measures, it’s dangerous to assume your employees  would be any different than the seemingly divided and polarized society at large. 

If you don’t approach this issue with a hunger for the kind of data that employee surveys can provide, combined with an openness to being surprised and a desire to hear what one Survale client calls the “the good, the bad and the ugly” of talent feedback, then you may be viewing your organization’s talent through your own corporate filter bubble.

Employee Surveys Can Inform Talent Programs and Communications

Understanding your workforce’s motivators, their view of their circumstances, their desires and worldviews can give you strong clues as to how to communicate important strategies and initiatives to them. It can give you a clue as to whether you might be at risk for employee conflict (employee to employee or employee to the outside world), 

I’m not here to argue one way or another about the validity of personal attitudes toward following, ignoring or resenting safety guidelines. I am here to remind you that your employees come from a wide variety of backgrounds and navigate their lives with varied attitudes, belief systems and, yes, filter bubbles. They have varying perspectives and, like it or not, your organization’s ability to recover and thrive after the effects of this pandemic, has become a political issue.

If 20% of your workforce feel powerless, or that their personal liberties are under attack, you might need to approach communicating important workplace requirements in a more educational way that preserves an employee’s right to choose or offers alternative assignments, for example. 

You might also have a potential safety problem as you could have a segment of your workforce that’s more likely to engage in risky behaviors outside the workplace and bring that risk into work with them.

This is just one example of the kind of intelligence that regular employee surveys can provide. Data that could indicate myriad risks to your business, from discrimination to lack of engagement, to stressors, and anxiety about the future. All information that is vital to the understanding of your workforce and the long term success of your business.

The key is to integrate feedback into all your talent facing programs and regularly ask for employee feedback so data can be gathered and analyzed over time and a regular line of communication can be established.

Both social media and the daily news are full of organizations that didn’t realize they weren’t listening to their employees and/or not communicating with them effectively. This is a problem that is easily solved with automatic, real time employee surveys.