How to Survey Employees During COVID-19

April 29, 2020

“Our people have survey fatigue.” Sound familiar? I tend to disagree with this notion. Most people appreciate the opportunity to share their opinion! What causes fatigue is when people are repeatedly asked to share feedback, and then that feedback isn’t acted on or even acknowledged. 

With that in mind, let’s talk about surveys. And this global pandemic. The way we’re living and working right now is so drastically different from a couple months ago, I still struggle to wrap my head around it. In Patty’s blog post "The Post-COVID World of Work: 6 Ways You Can Prepare," she shares the list of questions racing through her head. This excerpt keeps cycling in my mind: 

“Were organizations prepared for this? Are employees receiving the communications they need to stay informed and connected to their teams? Are they feeling valued and cared for? How is this experience shifting goals, priorities and expectations?”

The best way to get a sense of where you are today and what your people need — from communications, leaders, IT, etc. —  is to ask them. Whether you’re already in the survey trenches (good for you!) or debating on how to get started (it’s never too late!), check out our tips below. Need a hand? You know where to find us


The rollercoaster of news and emotions mean how your people feel and what they say today is likely going to be different next week, next month, the month after that, and so on. The takeaway: Surveying during COVID-19 isn’t a one-and-done effort. 

Regular pulse checks are a must. Start with weekly or monthly, but lean on your data to inform your cadence. There isn’t a one size fits all approach.


There are lots of good resources out there to help you get started. You know your people best, so pick and choose what makes the most sense and tailor questions to fit your company’s culture and align with your survey goals.

  • 11 High-Impact Questions Managers Should Ask Remote Employees (Culture Amp)
    So many of these questions are relevant to the COVID-19 situation right now — you could easily weave these into an all-employee survey and/or give these to managers to survey their teams (just be sure they pass along the data to you). I appreciate the phrasing and tone of these questions — really human and authentic. Some favorites:

    What do you like best and least about working remotely?

    [Follow-up questions: What is the high point of a typical day (for example, yesterday)? What is the low point of a typical day (for example, yesterday)?]
    What is your work setup like?
    [Follow-up questions: What equipment or process improvements would make things 10% better? What technology issues have you encountered?]
    What is your daily routine? 
    [Follow-up questions: What do you do to take breaks/ recharge? Are you able to fully disconnect at the end of the day?]
  • Emergency Response Survey Templates (Culture Amp)
    This includes question sets for both pulse checks and an extended survey, with the latter including sample questions that could be applied to any sort of emergency situation.
  • 8-Step Guide to Launching a Coronavirus Employee Survey Program (Survey Monkey)
    Includes one companywide template and one template that managers can share with their teams to understand individual needs.
  • Free COVID-19 Work Pulse Solutions (Qualtrics)
    Includes free resources and solutions for organizations of all sizes like the Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse, Remote + On-site Work Pulse, Healthcare Workforce Pulse, and more. 


Real quick...before you launch, assign roles and responsibilities. Who is sending out the survey and reminder messages? Who will analyze the data? Create a mini project plan to keep everyone on track, particularly when we’re all moving so quickly each day.

Prioritize your findings. You can’t tackle everything at once, so look at potential solutions through the lens of: 1) level of effort to address the issue; 2) level of impact addressing the issue will have; 3) Organizational readiness — are there things that need to happen FIRST in order to implement a solution? Don’t be afraid to go after the low-hanging fruit -- action and urgency are critical right now.

Communicate your findings and action plan. Remember how to avoid survey fatigue? Thank participants for their time, share what you learned and explain what you’re going to do about it right now — whether that’s via email, your intranet, during your next Town Hall or All-Hands — whichever channels you have available. It doesn’t have to be pretty, just actionable. 

Let your people know if there are questions or issues you don’t yet have answers or solutions for, but are working on. Embrace transparency and openness.

Use findings to bring your people together. Are employees struggling to adjust to working from home? Solicit tips and tricks from your people and share them. Encourage people to offer up their tried and true ways to keep the kiddos entertained during the day. There’s a lot of opportunities to source practical advice from your very own people that could make a positive impact in someone’s day-to-day life.

Use your findings to build your post-COVID business case. What are the programs, channels, tools or resources you need in place to address what you’re hearing from your people? What would move the needle in a noticeable way when it comes to employee engagement? 

Now more than ever, the value of internal communications is understood and appreciated. Keep track of your observations and supporting data points to help create your case for future budget and resources. 

Interested in learning more about how to use measurement during COVID-19 to strengthen your communications function? Stay tuned for part II. Until then, be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Becky Sennett

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