10 February 2021

Hello… is there anybody out there?

Anecdotal feedback is one of the most powerful tools in an IC or HR professional’s toolkit. But how do you listen when no-one is talking? We share five ideas to get you going.

Remember the days when we could have cheeky catch-ups with colleagues in the kitchen? Or get their opinions on that new financial process while walking back from a meeting? Now, with so many of us working remotely, those days feel long gone. HR & Comms people are feeling the loss of all that brilliant, anecdotal feedback. And they’re not the only ones. According to one study, a third of employees say they feel disconnected, while nearly one in five feel lonely.

Constant feedback is essential for creating strong employee experiences, strategies and messaging. So if you can’t catch up with people in person, you need the next best thing: a dedicated listening programme.

Here are five ideas to re-connect with your colleagues and get that golden, ad-hoc feedback.


1) Try social listening

If your people are active in your online workspace, you’re probably already keeping an eye on the chatrooms/forums. Easy if you’ve got 100 employees, less so if you’ve got 10,000. But now, software can make sense of all that unstructured data. Digital tools can pick up key themes and trends about any topic you choose, no matter how many people are commenting. If you’d like to hear how some of our clients are using this approach – and using the results – get in touch with McCann Synergy’s Lucy McKerron.

Try this: Use social listening stats to encourage managers to get involved online.


2) Call just to say ‘hi’

When facing our huge daily to-do lists, it’s not easy to make time for a quick and informal catch-up call. But, if you add it to that list, suddenly it becomes a must-do rather than a nice-to-have. So put 10 minutes in your diary every day to make it happen. Make a list of topics you want to talk about, and simply have a ring around. Even better, encourage leaders to do the same. Help things along by providing:

  • A topic of the week
  • Conversation prompts
  • A list of people for leaders to call – get them talking to people they would never normally have contact with.
Try this: Have your catch-ups while making coffee, going for a walk or having lunch – just like you would in the office!


3) Share the listening

If you have an Employee Engagement Committee (EEC), ask them to run online group feedback sessions. But don’t be surprised if it’s harder than usual to get people to volunteer. According to one study, 59% of us feel more self-conscious online than in real life and Zoom fatigue has become a real issue. Up the comfort level by:

  • Creating smaller listening and feedback groups with like-minded individuals
  • Giving people the option of doing it over the phone
  • Being clear about expectations on attendees, and the opportunity to follow up afterwards
Try this: Cover as many different audience types as possible to include lots of voices, not just the usual suspects.


4) Make it anonymous

Sometimes it’s hard to speak up (take a look at our recent article on this). Anonymous digital suggestion boxes are a simple way to help people to talk without any pressure. At McCann Synergy, we’re avid users of Suggestion Ox. Our EEC reviews the submissions from colleagues at their monthly meetings, reporting on discussions and actions at our monthly Town Halls.

Try this: Keep your digital suggestion box alive by having a topic of the month.


5) Power up your pulse survey

Surprisingly, only 21% of companies survey their people’s engagement three or more times a year. But, whether it’s a quick poll on Workplace or a one-question check-in you send out for team meetings, don’t underestimate the power of a pulse survey. Keep response rates high by:

  • Making each survey about a specific topic
  • Keeping them short and sweet (3-5 questions)
  • Closing the loop by telling people what’s happened as a result.
Try this: Encourage managers to pick up on pulse survey answers in their 1-2-1s. 


Fancy a chat?

We’re all ears. Get in touch with Lucy McKerron to talk all things measurement, from surveys and stats, to proof of concept and ROI.




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