(Photo by Anchiy/iStock by Getty Images)

Not much more than a generation ago, figuring out what was on the mind of employees could be more trouble than it was worth: Paper surveys, low response rates, and a long lag time between asking for input and getting responses to the right managers. All these steps impeded efforts to communicate. But with technology comes opportunity. The question is whether you are making the most of it. 

Many employees are frustrated because they have an overall impression of not being heard or seen by their company, as opposed to more isolated factors such as benefits or workload. According to research undertaken by McKinsey & Company in 2021, the top three factors employees cited as reasons for quitting were that they didn’t feel valued by their organizations (54%) or their managers (52%), or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51%).

Hybrid work environments are strongly desired by employees and supported by many organizations, yet they add another element of difficulty in gathering relevant and timely information. Adrián Campomanes, senior product marketing manager at Workday, an enterprise management platform, says old approaches in which employees were asked for input just once or twice a year are no longer good enough. By the time any relevant data reaches the appropriate person, it is too old to be of use. “Moreover, these surveys were not personalized, so how can managers address employees’ concerns with different circumstances, in other words, hybrid and non-hybrid workers?”

To get current information that applies to the varied experiences of different employees, whether in different positions or different locations, requires specialized technology. “Organizations should implement an employee-listening platform to gather real-time insights into employee sentiment across their whole organization,” Campomanes said. When choosing a platform to facilitate this data-gathering, it’s important to consider these elements:

•It makes the experience personal, regardless of size of organization. That means that someone who is a relatively new hire would have a different experience with the platform than someone who has a longer tenure; someone working from home full-time would see something different from someone who is at the office all the time. Even in a small company with fewer than 50 employees, the experience of each will be unique.

•It seeks out trends or issues of import. Knowing how someone feels is important, but knowing why they feel that way can be the difference between solving a problem or letting it fester. 

•It recommends necessary changes to address those issues of import that are brought up by employees.

•It asks questions based on organizational science, not just standard-issue queries from a template. Your organization, and the people in it, are different. “Out of the box” question sets address this. 

“The most important thing is that companies should make a clear assessment of their needs and implement the one that ticks most of their boxes,” Campomanes said.

A From Day webinar on Tues., Jan. 31, at 2 pm ET titled, “Bridging the Distance: How Tech Can Boost Engagement and Recognition,” will explore this topic more deeply, focusing on how the right technology can help motivate employees–and how the wrong ones can be counterproductive. Among the confirmed executive speakers are Lynn Kubinski, VP of digital excellence & Strategy at Bristol Myers Squibb; Christopher Shryock, the SVP and chief people officer at Sam’s Club; Loren Blanton, chief talent officer at the marketing and communications company VMLY&R; and Freddie Simshauser, VP of leadership development & learning at Ciox Health. You can register for the webinar here.

Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Workday, for sponsoring this forthcoming webinar.

Lisa Jaffe is a freelance writer who lives in Seattle with her son and a very needy rescue dog named Ellie Bee. She enjoys reading, long walks on the beach, and trying to get better at ceramics.