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Leveraging Strong Leadership and Communication in Times of Uncertainty: An Energy and Transportation Story

Case Study

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A large diversified North American company focused on construction, transportation, and energy, had been planning for months to launch its employee engagement census survey when, in early February, the first few cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 in North American were beginning to surface. As the potential for a pandemic grew, it was time to make some important decisions about delivering the survey. Given that much of the work performed by this organization was deemed essential, as well as most jobs comprising the workforce, the client decided to move ahead with its engagement survey.  Leadership knew it was paramount and more important than ever to listen to employees during this unprecedented time of uncertainty and crisis.

A couple of weeks after the employee engagement survey launched, it became clear how dire the healthcare and economic crisis could become.  The organization began struggling to get a high response rate for the survey as the focus of leaders and managers turned to triage, employee communication, and delivering needed resources to the workforce. As a result, the leaders decided to close the survey rather than continue extending the participation period.

After closing the survey, WSA consultants advised the organization to create a filter that would compare employees who completed the engagement survey before the current crisis was visible to those who completed it after the organization ramped up crisis-communications and resources for employees.  It’s important to know that communication of the crisis was very fluid throughout the organization. Employees received daily communications across multiple channels regarding its actions on safety, strategy, potential impact, critical leadership decisions and pre-and-post-crisis survival strategies.

The outcome was incredible. As a result of the proactive communications from leadership and continued listening efforts, scores on more than 80 percent of the items were more positive for the group who completed the survey after crisis communication began.  In fact, seven items regarding communication, equipping employees, future/vision, teamwork, and even diversity & inclusion, exhibited significantly more positive scores compared to employees who completed the engagement survey early on when the crisis was less apparent.

It’s important to note that employees who completed the survey post-crisis-visibility also had a much stronger belief that positive change would happen as a result of employees providing their feedback via the survey. So, essentially, their efforts were worth it, leadership cared what they thought, leadership would take action and their voices would be heard. Everyone organization wants that–that’s what creates a high performing workforce.

This is an organization that leveraged the power of Qualtrics’ XM technology and WSA Consulting to listen to employees in unprecedented times, make pivots to their strategy, and increase communication, to ensure employees were receiving what they needed to be successful and feel safe, and to drive itself to a stronger workforce post-crisis.

Workforce Performance Down to a Science.

To read more about effective workforce communication and listening strategies during a time of crisis, read Who Do Your Employees Trust?