Posted June 8th, 2022
When you ask yourself, “What are common remote employee challenges?” some obvious answers are communication issues, working across different time zones, and technical woes.
But what about problems that don’t get as much attention–like harassment increasing with remote work, or ‘selectively hearing’ the voice of the employee?
Keep scrolling to learn about challenges your remote employees are experiencing that you may not have considered before.
When you swap in-person meetings for Zoom conferences and desk chatter for Slack, there are fewer boundaries, more opportunities to disguise oneself, and greater susceptibility to harassment.
The EEOC defines harassment as: “Unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy), national origin, older age (age 40 plus), disability, or genetic information (including family medical history).”
FastCompany reported some alarming statistics about the uptick in harassment since the pandemic alone:
“Since the start of the pandemic, employees have felt as if online environments are the Wild Wild West, and the usual rules don’t apply,” said Jennifer Brown, DEI expert, to the New York Times. “…HR in most workplaces still has not caught up to what virtual forms of misconduct and harassment look and feel like, and there’s a lack of policies and procedures around what is acceptable.”
Organizations must develop standards for unacceptable remote communication on channels like instant messaging, video conferencing, email, etc. A critical part of curbing this behavior is to host discussions and training to show employees you’re holding them accountable and help those who’ve been the target of unwelcome virtual conduct.
According to SHRM, nearly 70 percent of professionals who transitioned to remote work in the pandemic say they now work on weekends. Forty-five percent say they work more hours during the week than they did pre-pandemic, and working parents were more likely to work on weekends than childless employees.
“While remote work affords employees more flexibility, it makes disconnecting extremely difficult,” said Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director at Robert Half. “Many people feel pressure to keep up with rising workloads and are putting in long hours to support the business and customer needs.”
Employees may also feel like their managers take advantage of the lack of commute and travel to assign more work. Being overworked may not only cause employees to seek greener pastures with other employers—it may lead to long-term health problems.
“The pandemic has pushed companies to prioritize employee experience,” said McDonald. “Savvy employers are making lasting changes to support their staff’s needs and well-being, such as providing greater autonomy and flexibility.”
Remote work adds a new layer to company culture and employee engagement. Nearly half of employees say their company doesn’t have an established feedback loop, according to research from SpiralMethod, an executive coaching company.
Transparency is also a common issue. Three-fourths of employees say that more transparency would boost their morale and improve their company’s success.
While employees value transparency and feedback, there is clearly a disconnect for most organizations to realize those principles. Leaders also must recognize that even though they may receive employee feedback, it may not be honest.
“In many cases, management is hearing what they want to hear,” says Leslie Jones, SpiralMethod founder. “If you’re not listening to the growing voice of your employees, you’re missing an enormous opportunity to cement your company culture in trust —and they will know it. There’s so much you can learn from your teams if you really listen with an authentic concern to hearing them.”
The remote work era has transformed business culture. Workplace principles are constantly evolving. Leaders must be aware that just because their employees haven’t directly complained doesn’t mean they’re not struggling.
Organizations need to provide ways for remote employees to give authentic feedback. Even though they’re not physically present in an office, you should still make sure they’re heard.
Do you want a way to capture candid, remote employee feedback? We’re here to help.
Posted May 27th, 2022
In 2021, employee engagement rates were the lowest they’ve been in a decade. According to Gallup, 34% reported that they were engaged in their work and workplace. The factors that Gallup used to gauge employee engagement were how employees felt about their employer’s clarity of expectations, development opportunities, and opinions counting at work.
“If you are driving a racecar, you don’t wait until you blow a tire to realize it’s time to make a change; you have to be proactive and have measures in place to address problems before they become critical issues. Employee feedback, especially open-ended responses to survey questions, has been neglected for years. Still, it is the single best source for understanding not only your employees’ needs but their expectations. Listening to their feedback and acting on it is key to engaging and retaining them.”Forbes
It’s common for employees to be on the receiving end of feedback, but they also need opportunities to give it. The problem is that it’s easy for feedback discussions to devolve into grousing sessions.
Here are some tips to guide your employees to give honest and effective anonymous feedback.
Imagine that an HR executive is reading your suggestions, hoping they’d be helpful in enhancing a new program or boosting your company culture. It won’t be helpful if you use feedback opportunities to vent. Think about how you receive feedback at work, whether it’s from a manager or another department. You’d likely want the feedback to be objective and practical, not a barrage of criticism or complaints.
Calling your manager hateful names or criticizing your coworkers when you submit the feedback will probably mean readers won’t take your suggestion as seriously as they should. If you’re enduring a personal complication like a coworker disagreement, bullying, or a violation of your employee rights, it’s best to go directly to HR.
The reader shouldn’t have to wade through your words to extract the takeaway. Consider adding bullets or data points to consolidate your thoughts or back up any points.
Organizations appreciate resourceful employees. “[Resourcefulness is] a rare quality to find,” says Tarek Pertew, Co-Founder of Uncubed, to The Muse. “Folks who can work through obstacles creatively are my favorite…I look to assign someone who is capable of digging his or her heels in and independently creating solutions.”
Seventy-four percent of employees say they’d feel more comfortable giving feedback about their company and culture if the feedback was truly anonymous, says a Forbes report.
Keeping feedback anonymous will:
Yet employees often fear that their anonymous feedback will be read and used against them, potentially leading to job loss.
As an employee, you may want to verify that the feedback mechanism you’re using is truly anonymous. Leaders should explain how their suggestions are anonymized to protect the integrity of employee participation. Then submit your honest, constructive feedback.
Leaders need to thoughtfully consider the feedback they receive, view it objectively, and then act on it. After all, feedback is ineffective if it remains unused. Employees should realize their voice is powerful. Two minutes taken to offer insight could lead to a new initiative launching or drawing attention to an overlooked issue. Whether you’re a leader or an individual contributor, your perspectives and contributions are instrumental to advancing a company and shaping its culture.
Are you looking for a way to collect and analyze anonymous feedback?
Posted May 18th, 2022
Leaders might assume that because their employees aren’t complaining, they must be content. They may actually be struggling or want to suggest something but are too afraid to speak up.
Why are employees keeping quiet? Fear of job loss, reputational damage, and organizational ineffectualness are just some explanations.
This post discusses issues employees keep mum on, from taking mental health days to voicing new ideas. We also include recent data points on what’s concerning employees and why they don’t verbalize them.
Sixty-two percent of employees worry their boss will judge them for taking mental health days, according to Forbes. The pandemic shined a spotlight on nurturing mental health, both in and out of the workplace. Yet:
Multiple organizations are gradually instituting time-off periods for mental health—from Cisco to Starbucks to Google. As a whole, though, there’s still a long way to go for companies to provide relevant resources and adequate time off for employees to take care of themselves.
Four in ten LGBTQ employees say they aren’t fully out at work, says CBS News and Glassdoor. The fact that more than 50 percent of LGBTQ workers say that they’ve experienced or witnessed anti-LGBTQ comments from coworkers is likely a huge driving factor.
Half of those surveyed said their fears about expressing their identity were:
However, if employers let their employees bring their full selves to work, employees would be much happier and more engaged.
In 2022, more than 75 percent of employees report they’re frustrated with their manager, says a new study from Real Estate Witch. The biggest manager-related aggravations were:
Additionally, one in five workers (20%) say their managers negatively affect their confidence and self-esteem during performance reviews.
One strategy to improve your happiness with your manager is to bring up one constructive suggestion and solution at a time, de-personalizing it as much as possible. For example, if they’re reluctant to let you work from home or use a hybrid style, speak with them about how much more productive you are without a daily commute. Suggest a trial period and demonstrate your effectiveness during that time.
Think more open discussions about mental health and discrimination have mitigated workplace bullying? Not exactly. Remote work may have made it easier for colleagues to harass their comments.
Now that remote and hybrid work is omnipresent, organizations need to develop policies and plans specifically for curtailing virtual bullying and harassment.
While companies claim they encourage innovation, employees don’t feel like they can voice new ideas. Why? According to the UNC Social Research Lab:
Cognitive diversity is what will propel organizations. Everyone That starts with creating a culture of feedback that encourages employees to bring new ideas to the table.
Of course, it’s easy to tell employees to suggest new ideas and not as easy to make sure they’re set into motion. Devise a system or strategy to nurture ideas and make them actionable. Anonomyizing suggestions will assuage fears about confidentiality and make employees feel comfortable submitting new ideas.
Your employees are the heartbeat of your organization. If they’re afraid or discouraged to speak up about their concerns, they’ll find another organization where they can. Organizations need to find ways to encourage employee feedback and engagement and use it to advance the organization.
Use technology to help you. The importance of collecting anonymous employee feedback is what drove us to create Incogneato, a secure, anonymous online suggestion box.
Want more details? Reach out to one of us here.
Posted January 14th, 2020
Traditionally, collecting employee feedback was limited to annual performance reviews or irregular feedback requests. Smart organizations gradually realized that employee feedback should function as an ongoing loop, ever evolving to strengthen the organization.
Using a “loop” as a visual indicator helps to convey the revolving nature of employee feedback. The loop begins with the collection of candid, honest feedback, which management then analyzes and uses to develop a plan of action. Once the plan is in place, employees are encouraged to continue submitting feedback and the plan of action continues to evolve. The result is a stronger organization with happier employees, who in turn create more satisfied customers.
In order for a feedback loop to continue evolving, it needs a continuous supply of honest, open feedback. Without it, action plans can become watered down, or in the worst case, never develop. As we’ve covered in another post on anonymity, employees tend to avoid negativity when providing direct feedback and are reluctant to irritate or challenge their superiors. In an article on conducting employee surveys, HBR noted that when asked to submit feedback, anonymity is the number one concern for employees. The same study shows that when employees have a guarantee of anonymity, they are more likely to submit honest, productive feedback — and even submit more of it.
Incogneato plays an essential role in both closing the employee feed loop and helping it continue to revolve. As a trusted third party, Incogneato helps organizations collect anonymous employee feedback without having to worry about inadvertently storing log files or otherwise finding out the identity of an employee who wished to remain anonymous. With a trusted system in place, employees will be more likely to continue submitting the type of honest, productive feedback that keeps the feedback loop revolving.
One of the key differences between Incogneato and other suggestion boxes is the ability to hold an anonymous conversation. Often times that initial piece of employee feedback leads to more questions that would otherwise go unanswered. Our Anonymous Chat feature lets you immediately ask a follow up question or for request further clarification. This one feature is key to a more effective employee feedback loop, as it helps management to more thoroughly understand the issue before an action plan is developed. Another difference is price.
If you haven’t already, give Incogneato a try by setting up a free anonymous suggestion box. No credit card is required during your trial.
Posted September 3rd, 2019
If you know what we do at Incogneato, then you can likely assume our position on this question. However, as the number of companies we help collect anonymous employee feedback continues to grow, we uncover new reasons for why it is so effective.
Most often, we hear “anonymity breeds negativity.” It’s hard to argue with that one. Just hang out on Reddit for a few minutes and you’ll see it firsthand. However, we’ve found that anonymity does not exclusively breed negativity. And oftentimes when it does, the negative feedback is also constructive. The trick is to brush off the negativity — and if you can — learn to pick out the constructive pieces.
Take for example the following (fictitious) piece of feedback:
“Bob the manager is universally hated. He treats everyone like garbage and genuinely has a chip on his shoulder. I quit because of him.”
Obviously, the feedback is harsh and Bob would prefer not to be told off in this manner. At the same time, it’s brutally honest. Bob likely does have issues with his employees and may have never known they felt this way before. He may have previously viewed himself as strict but fair based on face-to-face feedback he’s received. If Bob can move past the comment’s bluntness, he can change for the better.
According to HR expert and author Steve Cohen, many employees fall into the category of flighters. In other words, they eschew conflict and often busy themselves with other work or avoid managers altogether when there is perceived conflict. Flighters are also more likely to withhold knowledge and gossip internally, which is never healthy for an organization. On the opposing end of course are fighters. These people gain power by force or personality. Often times when fighters go head-to-head with flighters, the flighter backs down and decides to withhold key information. Anonymous tools that remove the risk of conflict (like Incogneato) are highly effective in gaining honest insights from these conflict-averse employees.
While unlikely, let’s pretend there exists an organization where every employee and manager is approachable, cordial, and accepts feedback graciously. Can this organization still benefit from anonymous feedback? Absolutely, and here’s why. Sitting in front of a screen composing feedback allows the employee to collect their thoughts without having to focus on a person in front of them. We are biologically attuned to the emotions of those around us. Removing them from the situation opens up our ability to convey our thoughts honestly without thinking about how others will immediately react. In other words, employees are in a safe place where they can focus on the feedback instead of the person.
One of the key differences between Incogneato and other suggestion boxes is the ability to hold an anonymous conversation. Often times that initial piece of employee feedback leads to more questions that would otherwise go unanswered. Our Anonymous Chat feature lets you immediately ask a follow up question or request further clarification.
Of course, there’s also the fact that Incogneato is less expensive than most competitors. How do we do it? We run lean. We do not employ a sales force so our team is solely focused on making the best product we can.
We believe that all organizations should be able to safely collect anonymous feedback without having to pay hefty monthly fees.
When you’re ready, give Incogneato a try by setting up a free anonymous suggestion box. No credit card is required during your trial.