annual surveys are dead

Is the Annual Survey Dead?

While it’s true that there are better solutions for gaining employee feedback, annual surveys are not entirely dead. No matter what industry you’re working in, odds are that you’ve filled out at least one annual survey. They’re a ubiquitous part of many workplace cultures, and most businesses start there when it comes to gathering feedback from employees.

But is an annual survey the best way to get feedback? 

In most circumstances, the answer is “no,” at least not without a companion tool for employees to leave regular feedback. Changing workplace dynamics and the fast-paced nature of work and daily life mean you need a surveying mechanism that captures more frequent feedback and keeps a real-time pulse on worker needs. 

Enter: WorkHound.

The Employee Survey & Today’s Workplace

Annual employee surveys have been around for many years, with the earliest versions dating back to the 1920s. Companies ask employees to fill out extensive surveys designed to measure how satisfied they are with their work, the company, coworkers and managers, and other aspects of the workplace.

While the annual survey is well-intentioned, it is often not well-executed.

Research has shown that these surveys are often poorly designed, causing employees to question anonymity and fear retaliation. This causes employees to give "safe" or political answers and keeps businesses from truly understanding employees' wants, needs, and morale. On top of that, many employees simply feel overwhelmed to pack an entire year into one survey, making it difficult for businesses to get the most accurate insight of all of their employees.

But the biggest issue with annual surveys is that they’re constrained into one window of time. In a go, go, go world, asking for employee feedback and comments only once per year means you’re missing out on a vast amount of feedback — and the chance to make improvements.

A One-Two Punch

Combine your annual survey with a real-time feedback solution to unlock its value. Instead of thinking of annual surveys as a one-time solution, think of them as a once-a-year confirmation that your more regular feedback cadence is resulting in improvements.

“Variables are changing all the time,” says Katie Love, Marketing Manager at WorkHound. “The time horizon is different for every industry, but for frontline workers, if something makes them mad one day, they may look for a new job the next, long before you’ve ever asked for their feedback. Asking for feedback more regularly helps you stay on top of the latest concerns, that way there are no surprises on your annual survey and you're getting the full picture from every worker.”

The annual survey captures a picture of what employees need and want and can be valuable in tandem with other resources, but all alone, it’s a partial, incomplete picture. 

“Annual surveys have some value in serving as a checkpoint, but that effort should always be complemented with real-time feedback,” Love adds. “With variables changing weekly and even daily, feedback changes, too.”

There’s another factor at work there, as well — particularly in high turnover companies where feedback is only asked for once a year. In these cases, the annual survey only gives companies a picture of the employees who are working for the company at the time the survey is given, meaning data can become out of date almost as soon as it’s collected.

If you get an annual survey once a year, you can be blindsided. With company goals and executive compensation often tied to annual survey metrics, the last thing you want are surprises on your annual survey. But if you add 24/7 always-on feedback to your arsenal, you can manage these metrics in real-time and support plans that are already in the works.

A Better Way of Gathering Feedback

What are employees looking for when it comes to feedback? To put it succinctly, an easy and frequent way to give it.

“The truth is, people are looking for a way to give feedback,” Love says. “If the company is not providing a tool to do that, employees will look for other ways to share feedback, like online review sites or social media. If you offer more than one tool, such as a continuous feedback service like WorkHound plus an annual survey, even better.”

Using a tool like WorkHound to capture feedback gives employees an easy, seamless way to share their needs and wants with their employer. This, in turn, benefits the business. 

“Many of our customers are surprised to find out that their employees have great ideas for solving problems,” Love says. “Asking for feedback regularly and then taking action because of that feedback not only expedites process improvement, but it also earns trust and improves workplace culture. Just imagine how much that, alone, will change the response in your annual survey.”

Ready to put WorkHound to work for your business? Sign up for a free demo to learn how we can help your business.


Q3 2020 // Product Release Recap - Full Text Search

Product feature updates are continuing to pick up speed for WorkHound customers, prospects, and internal users to provide faster and more effective service. The primary focus of WorkHound is to raise the voice of the dispersed workforce. Our goal is to collect and deliver worker feedback in a way that helps companies quickly take action. Updates in Q3 further accomplish that vision.

Q3 product feature updates expanded on big changes in Q1 & Q2 of 2020, like the new activity page, the addition of the new themes “praise,” the ability for users to leave status updates for one another, as well as the new One-Time Notification feature that allows customers to quickly answer questions and concerns within feedback. 

Q3 Featured Solutions

Full Text Search

July delivered a product feature requested by many customers and prospects and so, enhancing our service in this way has helped customer functionality. Full Text Search enables a keyword search within the text of each comment. The search feature is flexible and intelligent to help users further hone in on subsets of comments. It’s even possible to search within specific themes and the feature respects filters selected by users.

The ability to search full text within comments can help companies collect specific information related to major decision-making. 

Activity Page Filter

On the new-to-2020 activity page, users can now filter comments by ‘Sentiment.’ 

When workers leave feedback, they are prompted to rate their experience on a scale from 1 to 10. With a combination of that score as well as the content of the message, comments are determined either “positive,” “negative,” or “neutral.” 

Now users can filter comments on their dashboard within each sentiment. This can help users understand the areas of the company that require the most improvement based on worker feedback, as well as areas where your company is going above and beyond. 

sentiment filter

Performance Enhancements

As WorkHound serves more and more companies with thousands of workers, the WorkHound Product Team is constantly working behind the scenes on advancements. These changes maintain speed and efficiency. Their efforts are also enhancing internal resources for the betterment of the WorkHound Customer Success team service provided to our growing list of users. 

A Distributed Workforce Raising the Voice of your Distributed Workers

Q3 has continued to develop our understanding of communication needs for dispersed workers as WorkHound remains a fully remote business. While remote work has always been a significant part of the WorkHound culture, we’ve continued to invest in tools to help us collaborate more efficiently within our organization, and for current and future customers.

Because almost every workforce is now a distributed workforce, WorkHound is relevant across all parts of most organizations. We have witnessed a shift in how WorkHound is used. Once only used for frontline workers, current WorkHound customers are now gathering feedback from their now-remote office staff. Together, we are gaining powerful insight into their needs.

Proactively gathering feedback from your newly distributed workforce is the key to gaining critical information for helping your team adapt to new conditions. Give us a call when you’re ready, we’re here to help.


How to Turn Every Hire into a “Quality Hire”

In any type of business, you’ll often hear the words “quality hire” thrown around while referencing employees. That’s definitely the case within the trucking industry — and not always in a good way.

“There’s a notion in trucking that there are high-quality workers to hire and then there are workers who aren’t worth the time or investment,” says Katherine Vanderford, Director of Customer Success at WorkHound. “Companies will hire employees and then not invest in them because they’re convinced that they’re just going to leave.”

Are there really “high-quality” and “low-quality” workers? While you will definitely find that some employees set themselves apart from others, we believe there is value in treating all drivers as a high-quality hire. Read on as we explain why.

Drivers Can’t Always Be Categorized

It’s important to consider that drivers are people, and as such, they have unique characteristics. The qualities that make each of us unique also make it difficult to assign workers to a specific category.

“There’s an expectation that drivers are binary people — that they’re either 'good' or 'bad',” Vanderford says. “But just like everyone else, drivers are multifaceted.”

When a company places workers into one bucket or another, it’s a disservice — both to the employees and to the business itself.

Classifying employees as high- or low-quality permeates every aspect of the work a company does, from initial training of new hires to the ways in which feedback is analyzed.

“Oftentimes, if companies believe that a hire is low-quality, there’s not a lot of optimism that the driver is coachable, learning, or willing to learn,” Vanderford says. “From our perspective, one reason a company’s turnover is high isn’t that they aren’t willing to do something about turnover, but rather because they have a belief that they’ve hired low-quality workers.”

“Quality” Labels & Feedback

A trucking company once asked WorkHound whether it’s possible to weed out feedback from workers they deem low-quality. The answer was "no" because doing so would result in a skewed view of how the business is performing and the state of the workforce overall.

“Some companies want to know who gave the feedback so they can determine if it’s worth paying attention to,” Vanderford says. “If it’s a ‘high-quality’ driver, they would take action to help retain the driver; if it’s a ‘low-quality’ driver, they probably won’t invest the time or the money.”

While companies might feel this is a solid line of thinking, in reality, it can backfire: If drivers find out that this is the mindset behind how feedback is being received, trust will quickly erode. Ultimately, feedback and open communication are used as a tool to build and maintain trust between employees and a business. If it’s clear not all feedback is being reviewed with the same level of concern and discernment, a feedback program may wind up doing more harm than good.

An “Every-Driver-Matters” Mindset

“We don’t see drivers as ‘high-quality’ or ‘low-quality’ — we see them as drivers,” Vanderford says. “In our coaching and our conversations with customers, we encourage them to see all drivers as a valuable part of the operation.” 

That’s part of why the WorkHound platform offers drivers anonymity to share concerns and feedback. Anonymity protects everyone — it helps drivers feel secure and free of potential retaliation, and it helps businesses remove potential biases in how they receive and handle feedback.

“There are a lot of different variables of why drivers work the way they do,” Vanderford adds. “The one thing that a company can control is how they treat their drivers, moving consistently toward a culture that empowers them and gives them a reason to become more loyal to the company.”

Ready to put WorkHound to work for your business? Sign up for a free demo to learn how we can help your business.


Pulse-Check: What We’ve Learned in 6 Months

A sudden shift to a remote workforce happened overnight in the middle of March 2020 due to COVID-19. Now 6 months later, we're finally in the predicted "new normal."

This abrupt change caused ripple effects across multiple industries and work disciplines, affecting the essential workers who maintained work as usual. Whether behind the wheel of a truck, serving patients across the multiple areas of the healthcare industry, or working on the manufacturing floor, work looks similar, but interpersonal communication is a lot different as well as how personnel is managed.

On this webinar, we invited business leaders to talk about the lessons they've learned while managing remote teams over the past 6 months and their predictions for the next 6 months and beyond.

Get to know the leaders in the conversation:

 

Jeston George
Jeston George is the CEO & Co-Founder of Apptegy

Jeston George is the CEO and founder of Apptegy, a Little Rock-based education technology startup. Jeston was born in Kerala, India, and his parents moved the family to Little Rock for better opportunities when Jeston was three. He and his wife Jill have twin 2-year-old daughters Priya and Divya.

Jeston started and successfully exited two companies before founding Apptegy, an app that brings private sector-quality tools to school leaders and improves involvement for students’ families and communities.

Apptegy has raised Series A and Series B investment rounds from Five Elms Capital, a major capital firm out of Kansas City. Apptegy has grown to over 170 full time employees and works with over 1,500 school districts in 49 states.

 

Ted Alling
Ted Alling is the Partner Dynamo VC Fund & Co-Founder Chattanooga Preparatory

Ted Alling is a serial founder who uses his entrepreneurial achievements to create opportunities for others. He is the co-founder and former CEO of a $500 million logistics startup, Access America, that eventually merged with UPS subsidiary, Coyote Logistics. 

Ted co-founded Lamp Post Group, a venture capital firm and tech-focused incubator in Chattanooga backing a very lengthy list of start-ups in our local community, and Dynamo, an $18 million venture capital fund aimed at revolutionizing the logistics industry. Dynamo is the premier global knowledge leader in logistics technology and supports the most innovative new businesses in the field. 

And now, along with his wife and co-founder, Kelly, Ted has embarked on his true passion project, the Chattanooga Preparatory School, an all-boys public charter school for the young men in the city’s urban communities.

Ted lives in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, with his wife and three children.

Dipanwita Das is an award-winning global technology entrepreneur. She co-founded and serves as the CEO of Sorcero, a venture-backed startup that is building a Language Intelligence Platform that powers mission-critical decisions for Life Sciences and Insurance.

Dipanwita Das
Dipanwita Das is the CEO & Co-Founder at Sorcero

Previously, she was the founder & CEO of 42 Strategies, managing digital transformation projects for Richard Branson's Virgin Unite, Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. 

Di completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business's Executive Program for Social Entrepreneurship, earned her M.A. from the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and her B.A. from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. She is heavily inspired by science fiction and philosophy and writes her journal in Elvish.

Watch the complete webinar:

 

https://youtu.be/4cZ7INmqZDs


feedback now

3 Reasons You Need Feedback Now

Today, we’re digging into the three reasons why every company needs feedback now than ever before. 

In our recent blog about how open-door policies don’t really set the stage for an effective feedback program, we mentioned the new struggles workers are facing as many companies continue in full or hybrid remote-work settings. (TL;DR: Open-door policies are ineffective when the “door” requires a video chat and team members don’t know the best way to access managers while remote.) 

Here's why you need feedback from your workforce right now:

  1. People are struggling.

This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to lose track of where employees stand as normalcy returns. Even for employees of companies performing especially well in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, work isn’t the only variable they’re considering.

“People are juggling a lot right now — whether it’s worry over an unemployed spouse, the stress of helping children with online learning needs, or finding safe care solutions for elderly parents,” says Cindy Wincek, Senior Customer Success Manager at WorkHound. “When you’re seeing people in-person, you’re more likely to notice when they’re having a hard time.”

By proactively asking for team member feedback and providing an easy-to-use outlet to collect that information, you’ll be able to keep a finger on the pulse of your team’s overall worries and concerns — and respond to them accordingly.

“It’s so important to do something with the feedback you receive,” Wincek says. “And when it comes to feedback that indicates team members are struggling, the “do something” could just be a one-on-one conversation — but there may also be a need to do something bigger like implementing a flexible scheduling policy that accommodates the needs of your team.”

  1. We’re in a constant state of change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the most rapid changes to workflow, employer policies, and general daily routines that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. 

The pandemic has created periods of tumult for even the most change-accepting, nimble members of all teams — just imagine how stressful this must be for those who are change-averse.

As you’re deploying new procedures at such a rapid clip, it’s necessary to keep tabs on how they’re actually impacting your team.

“Even with the best-planned policies, it can be tough to predict true impact until you see it in action,” says Wincek. “This was true even prior to the pandemic, and it’s especially true now, as needs emerge so rapidly. By regularly requesting feedback, you’ll help team members feel more invested and engaged as their concerns are being considered and addressed quickly.”

  1. Hiring and retention are still high on the priority list.

Previous methods used to accomplish hiring and retention goals may not be useful in the current climate.

If you were a pre-pandemic hire, think of your first couple of weeks on the job. Now, imagine that you were unable to have regular meetings with managers and peers, that you didn’t get to head to lunch with your new team members, and that your training was conducted entirely online. Feels pretty lonely, doesn’t it? 

Common causes of turnover include misunderstandings regarding job duties, a lack of adequate training, feeling undervalued, and misunderstandings about compensation or benefits — all topics that can typically be addressed and remedied if managers are made aware of issues. 

When you take away the ability for workers to connect and build trust with managers who can help them sort through problems or concerns, you may quickly (and potentially permanently) damage trust. At a small scale, this means individual worker turnover. At a large scale, your overarching company culture may take a hit.

“The things that lead to turnover are generally things that can be addressed, and in many industries, turnover happens fast,” says Wincek. “Some of the interpersonal elements of building trust between employers and their workers have been lost, so it’s crucial that companies find other ways to stay in tune with their teams.”

Ready to see how a feedback platform could benefit your team? Our team of experts are ready to chat. Contact us today!


remote work

5 Tips for Successfully Managing Remote Workers

Just a few months ago, managing remote workers wasn't as common as it is now. Most of our waking hours were away from home in the workplace. Enter COVID-19 and the workplace dynamic changed dramatically, with many more people now working from home or another remote location.

What’s interesting, though, is that remote work was already on the rise before the pandemic. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 4.7 million American employees worked from home at least half of each week, pre-pandemic. That’s about 3.5 percent of the total workforce.

While that doesn’t seem like much, the number of people who were working remotely at least once per week, even before the pandemic, has grown by 400% in the last decade.

With so many people spending at least part of the time working away from the office, there’s no better time than now to learn more about how to effectively manage a remote team. Our team at WorkHound — where we’re navigating this new dynamic along with you — has some suggestions.

Tip 1: Schedule Regular Check-ins

Since you can no longer walk down the hall to check in with your employees, it’s important to walk down the virtual hall often. Build-in regular touchpoints that allow the entire team and/or individual departments time to talk through projects and the work on their plates.

“Managing remote workers effectively really comes down to two factors: communication and transparency,” says Max Farrell, CEO and Co-Founder at WorkHound. “Having regular meetings to touch base is important because it gives you a good opportunity to talk about obstacles, whether home or work-related, in the work you’re doing.”

 

Tip 2: Have Multiple Ways to Communicate

Don’t rely on one way of communicating with your employees. All too often, we can fall into a routine of sending emails to ask questions and seek clarification. While email can be an important method of communication, it shouldn’t be the only one.

Email can be very impersonal, and it lacks the human interactions that other methods offer. Mix in methods such as video conferencing that allow you to pick up on visual cues from your employees when something is wrong or they don’t quite understand a project’s goals or expectations.

Other communication methods, such as messaging systems like Slack, can also help you communicate effectively when it’s an easy or simple message or question.

 

Tip 3: Build in Boundaries

This is an important one! When you’re working from home, it can naturally become more difficult to separate your work and your home life. 

It’s important to establish expectations about when work should be done — and to let employees know that they won’t be expected to be “on the clock” around the clock. 

“Something else that’s really important for keeping the train rolling is encouraging time off,” Farrell says. “Set an expectation for your team that they don’t have to be online after the end of the workday. Being ‘on’ all the time leads to burnout and really causes our work quality to suffer. Our bodies and brains are programmed to need rest.”

It’s also important to remind employees that it’s beneficial to take time for themselves.

“Without being able to travel, it’s really easy to fall into a habit of not taking time off and not taking PTO,” Farrell adds. “Even if you’re not going anywhere, it’s important to step away from work for a while.”

 

Tip 4: Find Different Ways to Gauge Employee Well-Being

When employees aren’t working in an office space, it can be much more difficult to pick up on clues that they aren’t at their best. You can’t see their faces — and aren’t even hearing their voices quite as often as normal.

That makes it even more important to have built-in tools for employees to share feedback, concerns, and what they’re thinking and feeling. A continuous feedback tool like WorkHound allows employees to provide perspective whenever and wherever they need to, allowing you to keep a good finger on the pulse of how they’re doing.

“In times of transition like this, it’s especially important to solicit feedback, because that’s when turnover is most likely to happen,” Farrell says. “Times of transition and change tend to be the most sensitive to workers of all kinds and this is also when rumors and misinformation pop-up.”

Beyond simply allowing for feedback, it’s especially important at this time to ensure you’re either responding with empathy or taking action related to the feedback. Employees want to know that they’re being heard and that their voices matter.

 

Tip 5: Be Flexible

We’ve outlined some good best practices for managing remote workers, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. These practices are a good place to begin.

As we navigate unusual and challenging times, though, with many parents taking on responsibilities as “at-home teachers” on top of all their other responsibilities, flexibility is the name of the game.

Recognize that no matter what processes you have in place, they will sometimes need to bend a little to allow for individual employee circumstances. And that’s OK. It’s all a part of being an effective employer for a remote team.

Gauging how your remote employees are feeling is easier with a tool like WorkHound! Sign up for a free demo to learn how we can help your business.

 


culture of trust

A Culture of Trust: Learn How to Build One

Culture of trust was the latest hot topic on our monthly webinar, reflecting on what we’ve learned over the past 6 months and how leaders can rethink the future of work.

As they say: The show must go on. It can be easy to get caught up in analysis paralysis while navigating what to do next, but we know that the companies that will come out ahead on the other side of 2020 are the ones exercising calm, instilling confidence in high performers, and showing a willingness to adapt.

Both employees and employers are facing new challenges in communication as most workforces become dispersed. Even if you are working from the office, an open-door policy isn’t as possible as it once was.

In the past 6 months, the nature of work has changed. Offices and teams have abruptly started working remotely. This year has been jam-packed. We’re navigating a pandemic, a recession, and a battle against systemic racism.  Social distancing is the norm and hugging and handshakes are now taboo.  These are weird, yet heavy times.

In this webinar, the group of panelists addressed whether or not work is more empathetic, mental health challenges, measurement of accountability and productivity, and self-management. And together, how all of this ties back to building and maintaining trust within our teams.

Tune-in to this replay of last week's webinar to learn the important lessons shared by our group panelists. And then reach out! We'd love to know what stood out to you and how it will impact your work with your team.

If you'd like to learn more about how real-time feedback can improve your company's culture or get in touch with one of the panelists, reach out here or email info@workhound.com.

Additionally, mark your calendar: The next webinar will be on what we've learned in the last 6 months on Sept. 15.


burnout

Danger Ahead: A Look at Burnout in Healthcare

Burnout. We hear the word all the time these days, but do we have a good understanding of what it is — and how it can impact the work we do?

The reality is that most Americans have experienced work-related burnout at one time or another. In fact, a 2018 Gallup survey found that 23 percent of participants reported feeling burned out at work “very often or always,” while another 44 percent feel burned out sometimes.

In most work environments, burnout can lead to a dip in productivity or a negative impact on an employee’s quality of work. But in a healthcare environment, that can translate to a danger to the affected employee, other employees, and patients. 

What Burnout Looks & Feels Like

You may never have identified yourself as having burnout, but you’re likely familiar with what it feels like. Burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.”

Burnout isn’t always related to work — it can sometimes be the result of stress from parenting, taking care of an elderly or sick relative, or a romantic relationship. But work is the most common cause.

If a healthcare worker is experiencing burnout, it may show up in a variety of ways, including physical symptoms:

  • Expressing cynicism or becoming increasingly critical at work
  • Having difficulty motivating his or herself to complete tasks
  • Becoming irritable with coworkers or patients
  • Lacking the energy to be productive
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Not finding satisfaction in work, even if previously successful or enjoyable
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to help cope
  • Having sleep difficulties or changes in routine
  • Dealing with more frequent headaches
  • Having GI issues

Feeling burned out is often the result of stress from one of three major causes in the workplace — unclear or unrealistic expectations, a dysfunctional workplace, or a perceived or real lack of support. Having a diminished work/life balance is also often a factor when burnout develops.

How Burnout Can Impact Safety

Burnout in any job hurts. Burnout as a healthcare staffer can have disastrous consequences.

But it’s also incredibly common. The healthcare environment is filled with potential stressors, including a sometimes-overwhelming pace, intense demands, and a high sense of responsibility. 

All of those stressors add up to an increased risk for burnout, and there’s a demonstrated link between burnout and the risk of medical errors. When employees feel emotionally impacted by the stresses of their work, the number of healthcare-associated infections increases, while patient access to care diminishes.

Beyond having a negative association with patient care, burnout in healthcare workers also greatly increases the danger to the workers themselves, making them more likely to experience depression or suicidal tendencies.

“Burnout causes a compromise in an employee’s quality of work,” says Max Farrell, CEO & Co-Founder at WorkHound. “If healthcare workers are feeling burnout, they are potentially compromising patient safety. Healthcare workers have a responsibility to so many different stakeholders. In an environment of care and with responsibility for lives, there’s no room for compromised care — so it’s essential to ensure the workers themselves are cared for.”

If you believe an employee to be experiencing burnout, it’s important to take action to try and help. Even small gestures can make a big impact.

“Any gesture companies can implement that shows employees how much they’re appreciated and respected — that you have empathy for the work they’re doing — can go really far in helping them overcome burnout,” Farrell says.

A feedback tool like WorkHound can help you keep an eye out for signs of burnout in your healthcare team. Sign up for a free demo to learn how we can help.


safety

How to Improve Safety in Manufacturing

“See something, say something” is no longer an effective way to improve safety in manufacturing, especially when workers aren’t sure who is on the receiving end of their elevated concern.

When was the last time you thought about how to make a meaningful safety improvement in manufacturing? Did you know that employee-driven feedback is often the catalyst in the industry to push innovation and efficiency forward?

In many cases, those changes have their root in feedback from a worker’s vantage point. Maybe a worker on the line mentioned an inefficient way to track employee concerns, or another staff member identified a point in a process that always caused a hiccup and suggested a potential way to improve it.

Feedback is a driver of change, and in manufacturing, continual improvement is something we’re always striving for. Tweaks and improvements are especially important when it comes to employee safety within the manufacturing setting.

Employees can often provide insights into deficits within safety guidelines and suggestions on how to improve them. That’s where offering a continual feedback mechanism is so important.

The Dual Channels of Employee Feedback

It’s important to note that there are two overarching categories of feedback within a manufacturing setting: The first is emergent and must be handled immediately. The second is less urgent and offers valuable insight for making a case to improve.

“In an emergency situation, obviously, employees need to make a more immediate connection with someone to report an issue,” says Max Farrell, CEO and Co-Founder at WorkHound. “But WorkHound is a solution to employee communication. Ultimately, every communication breakdown presents a potential risk at work, so it’s vitally important to offer workers an outlet for their feedback.”

While feedback in any industry plays an important role, it’s an especially necessary component in manufacturing settings, where seemingly small issues can turn into significant problems very quickly. 

“I think a lot of manufacturers use ‘see something, say something’ as a universal phrase to encourage employees to have their voices heard,” Farrell says. “But sometimes employees simply don’t know where to go to share their feedback. Or maybe they do and are concerned about repercussions.”

Feedback’s Safety Role in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The timeline of COVID-19’s emergence and impact in the United States alone presented volatility in every industry. During the course of just a few months, the virus spread across the country and created chaos — and a significant burden on the supply chain.

By nature, frontline workers are presented with significant physical and emotional stress on a good day — which means having a sounding board for feedback is even more important during a pandemic.

With a tool like WorkHound, manufacturers can work not only to improve safety but also to prioritize their employees. This includes multiple facets, encompassing both physical safety and emotional health.

“Employees don’t always want to openly share that they’re overwhelmed — they don’t want to look weak,” Farell says. “This can help leaders and other admins know when employees need a break and when they’re at risk of burnout.”

Raising that silent alarm is especially important right now, with changing dynamics in the way that many manufacturing companies are working.

“HR teams are working from home in some cases,” Farrell says. “And even if they’re not, they’re separated from what employees are actually seeing on the floor, as well as the changes and information they need in this evolving climate. WorkHound provides a tool for overcoming that barrier and improving safety all around.”

Ready to put our feedback tool to work for your manufacturing company? Sign up for a free consultation to learn how we can help.


technology

Prioritize the Mental Health of the Skilled Workforce

The risk of experiencing mental illness as a frontline worker is high — leaving many workers debilitated, unsafe while operating equipment, burnt out, or with suicidal tendencies.

If left untreated, mental illness can pose significant threats to more parties than just the worker. Customers, shippers, and equipment are at risk as well. The damage in these circumstances is astronomical for everyone involved. But these aren’t the only reasons why mental health for frontline workers matters.

Strap In for the Long Run

As a company, you can help steer your staff to safety. Putting resources in place to help protect your workers is not only responsible, but it’s also smart business. According to estimates from a recent World Health Organization-led study on mental health, depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

In addition to safeguarding against damages and inspiring productivity, it’s an employee retention opportunity in a perennially competitive hiring market. You have everything to gain by making your company more amenable to workers — especially in the arena of mental health.

So what are the best ways to take action? Above all else, you want to take time to explore the mental health tools and options available for your employees. But before you swing into problem-solving mode, you need a firm grip on the issue at hand — the stressors, the risks, and the underlying needs that cause them. These insights should form the basis of your approach.

Know the Mind Behind the Mask

Many essential jobs take a unique toll on the psyche. Take, for example, a truck driver. The complexities of life on the road are myriad. The isolation of extended days and time away from family leaves many workers feeling deeply alone. The monotony of daily tasks can be numbing on the one hand, while the dangers of the job can spike anxiety on the other.

On top of that, workers like truck drivers often witness a greater number of major accidents than the average person. And some have been in critical accidents themselves. The trauma of these experiences can be particularly damaging to a worker’s stability.

“PTSD is an ongoing risk in the transportation industry,” said Katie Love, Marketing Manager at WorkHound. “Accidents involving injury and death are extremely shocking events to witness or experience directly. Drivers may develop obsessive fears or flashbacks while having to remain on the road for prolonged periods of time.”

Another challenge for workers is the amount of time they must spend on the job. This makes maintaining relationships difficult for some. Time spent with family and friends is often inadequate, perpetuating the sense of loneliness many already feel while isolated in their trucks. For some workers, the ripple effects can be far-reaching.

Employers: Reach Out and Listen

As a company, the single most important thing you can do to support workers struggling with mental health is to make a connection. “Stigmas around the topic of mental health can make it very difficult for workers to admit when they’re struggling, even in ‘open door policy‘ cultures,” said Love. “But when employers proactively and consistently communicate about the issue, workers start realizing they’re not alone in their experiences and are thus more likely to seek help.”

Another way to make employees more comfortable expressing their mental health needs is to provide them with an anonymous way to do so, suggested Love. “The real-time feedback platform provided by WorkHound is designed to facilitate sensitive conversations like these,” she explained. “It’s also a great way to gain insight into potential changes you can make internally that would better accommodate employees’ mental health needs while making them safer on the job.” Some of those changes might include:

  • Implementing an emergency phone line that allows workers to call trained professionals for support when they need someone to confide in while on the job
  • Adjusting your insurance policy to provide coverage for remote therapy sessions
  • Providing workers with their schedules far enough in advance so that it’s easier for them to arrange quality time with family and friends
  • Amending your bereavement policy so employees have adequate time to travel for funerals and experience necessary grieving with loved ones
  • Working against loneliness with policies like allowing companions for truckers
  • Creating physical spaces that encourage social interaction for workers when they are in the workplace
  • Being more receptive to workers’ needs for time off
  • Allowing truck drivers to use PTO in some of the locations they travel for work or providing a stipend for their vacation time
  • Offer assistance for self-care routines, such as gym memberships, a massage, or even necessary hygiene practices, like a hair cut at a barber

Most importantly, remember to listen closely and be responsive as ever. Workers know what they come up against on the job better than anyone, which makes them excellent partners in tackling this problem. And be sure not to wait to take action or communicate updates.

Skilled workers who reach out with mental health concerns and assume they’re going unacknowledged will take note — and potentially seek employment elsewhere. But when employees feel valued and that their needs are being taken seriously, especially on the topic of health, it makes a real difference. And ultimately, employee safety and company safety always go hand-in-hand.

WorkHound provides an easy-to-use feedback platform that raises the voice of skilled workers. If you’re ready to learn how using our tool could improve the feedback culture at your business or organization, talk with an expert today.