Engaging Employees During COVID-19 - Social Assurance
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Engaging Employees During COVID-19

April 7, 2020
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Banks, credit unions and businesses everywhere are taking on shifting their workforces to nearly 100% remote with the rapid response to COVID-19. As many financial organizations have begun to settle into their remote work environments, they are looking for tips and resources to ensure their employees are engaged and getting the support needed.

Join Social Assurance’s Ben Pankonin as he interviews Greg Harris, CEO of Quantum Workplace to discuss innovations to keep employees engaged with the COVID-19 remote work structures (and after). Quantum Workplace is a nationally recognized leader in employee engagement solutions and founder of “Best Places to Work™.”

This webinar will touch on:

  • Building employee trust during uncertain times
  • Creating virtual opportunities for employee engagement
  • Encouraging and promoting mental health awareness

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Ben Pankonin 0:12
Well, welcome to another webinar with social insurance. And we are continuing to be social at a distance with this webinar. And today we are talking about engaging employees during this crisis. And I am joined with Greg Harris, the CEO of quantum workplace. Welcome, Greg.

Greg Harris 0:33
Thank you, Ben. Great. Great to join you and your audience today.

Ben Pankonin 0:36
Well, yeah, and, you know, we’re, we’re excited to have you. You know, I’ve known you for quite a while now. But, you know, it’s fun to get to work together on this project. You know, I was kind of thinking, you know, some of the time it’s just a selfish thing to just ask you to be on here because I’m thinking, hey, how can I? How can I help engage our employees We’re all remote. You know. So it’s fun for me to sort of look through the questions that we had from a lot of banks, as we look at kind of how we can talk together.

Greg Harris 1:11
Yeah, that’s great. Now, this

is such a fun opportunity. This is top of mind for so many people, all of a sudden, you know, for 10 years, organizations have been building up and building up and getting smarter about the social and the cultural elements that create great performance. And sometimes it takes a good crisis to let some of that new learning and some of those new processes crystallized. And we that’s the opportunity that we have

in front of us right now.

Ben Pankonin 1:37
Well, I appreciate that and you know, later today, I’m going to hopefully get my my Corona cut that it looks like you’ve got you got a head start on me. Ah, the ball jokes have already started. I’ll

Greg Harris 1:52
tell you what this is, this is this is gonna become cool in the next four to six weeks. I think as long as we’re in our home. I don’t Yeah, I’ve been cutting my hair at home for 15 years.

Ben Pankonin 2:05
Awesome. Well, well, you know, you’ve got a lot going on. Obviously, you’re working from home now. But you’ve also, you know, one of the things we’re seeing in this whole time period is that people are juggling a lot of different family things and stuff like that. You’ve got a son who’s graduating this semester, right from high school.

Greg Harris 2:26
I do. We have four kids in the house right now, the second kid we have a sophomore in college at UNH University, Nebraska and Lincoln. Our two kid is a senior in high school and he’s been the most interesting to watch through this. It’s been that you know, to have him have less structure from a school environment for the last two weeks. One of the weeks that we’ve been home has been was spring break, so we expected him to sleep till noon every day that that week, but knowing that he’s preparing for college and making some college decisions for next year. It’s been interesting to see him in a schooling environment. Where he doesn’t have as much structure, it gives me an opportunity to coach him to figure out he’s actually going to have to wake up in daytime hours next year when he gets to the university. But it’s also it’s also a kid that a month and a half ago was asking us to call him out to go to state basketball. And now you know, so he’s looking for opportunities to get out of class now, he the gravity of not being in classes set in and he’s wishing he he was there. He’s wishing he could be experiencing some of those lasts the last English class the last paper to turn in so

Ben Pankonin 3:38
different. Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. And as we kind of caught up a little bit, you know, talking through this webinar. It’s just fun to see the way you’re engaging with your employees and just seeing the model you’re leading and your staffs been growing company’s been growing a lot in the last couple years. And so that’s been exciting to see as well. But You know, we kind of looked through a lot of questions from banks. And, you know, we’re sitting right now at this really kind of critical juncture, I think, in banking, because, you know, this last weekend, we experienced a ton of stress dealing with PPP loans, and you know, managing just a really incredibly stressful time. For a lot of employees. I had some emails with a number of lenders and text messages. And, you know, some of them, were just saying, Hey, you know, it’s not just me, there’s so many people at at our company that are helping us through this. So I think it’s just a really timely time. And even you know, a couple weeks ago when we were thinking about when to do this one, I thought, wow, I think it seems about right, but just in light of this last weekend, and all of that stress, I think this feels even more timely. So I’m excited for you to kind of help us understand a little But more about what you do, how do you how you understand employee engagement and help us kind of walk through that process. It’s great.

Greg Harris 5:08

this is a, this is a phenomenal opportunity, in fact, an opportunity to catch a few hundred individuals in the financial services space is a perfect time to honor that there are industries that are serving the world right now that we probably take for granted in normal circumstances. There are banks, there are grocery stores, they are, they are the nursing, you know, these are organizations these are these are the essential workers that are doing the work to keep the economy running or to keep it ready to start running again. And so I look at financial services as being on the frontlines just as I do nurses just as they do food service. So this is an exciting time and this is also going to test some of the stuff The ideas that we have, you know, we’ve seen banks in, in Europe in the challenger banking model who have created innovation around where we do our banking where we transact what we actually need and reinventing what that banking relationship looks like and to go virtual, not by decision, but by mandate is, is going to force a lot of innovation probably catch this country up with some of what we’ve seen in Europe. Ultimately, what quantum workplace does, we are in the employee engagement business. We’re a software firm that does survey, design, survey data collection, and we manage the touchpoints that leadership teams and managers have with their employees. So engagement really is the emotionally intellectual commitment that employees have, to their workplace to their work. And there’s three layers of it their commitment that they have to their work, the commitments they have to their team, and the committee. But that they have to their organization as a whole. So there’s three dimensions of that. And we came into the scene 18 years ago quantum workplace with one of the very early companies that said, Hey, measuring this thing called engagement should be a universal construct. The things that drive engagement in the human experience really are the same whether you’re a 50 person, retail shop or a 50,000 person, global financial services organization, because what drives motivation, what drives performance is the same in people. Whether you’re a teller or whether you’re a C suite executive, you want to be recognized for work well done, you want to be that you would have no you want to have clarity of the goals and have an understanding of where the goalpost is and how to get there. You want to have supportive management that knows what you need knows how to clear obstacles but isn’t so in your business. As to as to interfere in those drivers of engagement. Those components that create an engaged workplace really are the same across industry, across size and even across economic cycle. So we are in the business of creating the tools that managers use to collect feedback to diagnose engagement, engagement issues, as well as to create the communication that drives engagement. The things we just talked about recognition, social, one on ones, helping structure their conversations that managers and employees are having about their performance and to be able to solicit feedback on a on an on demand basis.

Ben Pankonin 8:40
Awesome. Well, we did just a couple quick questions this past week. And we’re actually going to be sending these out just to a bunch of people who have registered and a number of banks but I wanted to share just a few things about where people are. One of those is just as far as as banks go, will you You know, a lot of them are doing drive thru only as open, you know, branches are all closed. So, you know, the vast majority are kind of sitting in that space right now. And then how many are working remotely? This has actually been consistent the past about 10 days that we’ve done a few of these kind of quick surveys to understand about 73% of the people who have attended our webinars and and follow through on questions. we’re answering that they were partially or mostly working remotely. And actually that kind of correlated last week when we did our webinar, we asked how many people were were working remotely and they rate it just over 70% had said they were they were attending remotely. So just to kind of give you a quick status of where we’re at, but, but we’d love to have you walk us through a little bit of employee engagement and then if you do have questions, Feel free to put those into the GoToWebinar chat, you can send us a Tweet as well. I’ll be interrupting Greg, and and you know, trying to address as many of those questions as possible.

Greg Harris 10:12
Absolutely. The, just as we discussed, there’s three dimensions of engagement. It’s the individual’s experience with their work and their commitment to their work to the team around them. And their organization. Each of those three layers has not just a perception of experience, but also an individual’s understanding of what the goals are of that, you know, what are the goals of my work? What is how do I know that if my oars in the water and rowing that it is moving the team in the direction that it wants to go, and that my entire team’s set of oars is moving in the direction of the organization. So, so strong and highly engaged cultures are those that have that have the communication layers and the feedback layers that are connecting the dots on all Three of those, those dimensions. So the beauty of it, you know, that’s the science behind engagement. And what one of the things that makes it unique is that it is both an outcome of great culture and strong leadership. It is also a driver of great culture. So it was set up 15 years ago, we would argue and we would have intellectual conversations about is it do is engagement the result of great performance? Or is performance the great result of of engagement? The answer is both and it is a virtuous cycle. to spur performance, we need an engaged team and it’s why so many summit so often we’ll use sports analogies for this because engagement, understanding what the how to score and what the and having a tangible scoring mechanism is so much clearer and obvious to our to our culture, but that’s what we’re trying to measure into drive culture to get proactive about culture means we don’t Just diagnose, survey which we do our engagement which we do through survey. But we also prescribe or we get prescriptive about engagement, that’s manager to employee communication and recognition of great work and goal alignment. So, the why that’s the big I think in this time, I think the unique message about engagement in this type of fields as leaders, as managers, as HR people, it feels like the world has changed in the last 30 days, and it has a lot of ways. But there are other ways it hasn’t how to engage employees, why to engage employees really hasn’t changed the the human factors, the human levers that we have, you know, driving trust within an organization and their relational qualities. That is what creates an engaged workplace and though the need for that doesn’t change when we have engaged, work workplace we have more innovative thinkers we have discretionary effort. For being given it we and we perform it about her at a better level and that’s a symbiotic relationship between employees and employers because both sides want you know, he humans have a natural instinct and a desire to be great at what they do whether you know whether they’re raking leaves or they say raking leaves as I’m looking at seeing somebody raking out the or whether they’re buying and selling companies so so the what is engagement doesn’t change isn’t different last year than it is this year. Well isn’t different last month and it is this year. Even the why even though why we want engagement to some extent the why why do we want to engage workplaces kind of I mean, it is better it is more fun, it is more enjoyable to be working alongside people that want to perform as much as you do. So that the what and the why haven’t changed it If anything’s changed in the last 30 days, it’s the how how do we create? How do we poke at engagement? How do we know when engagement is changing? If it has changed, whether that’s at an individual or at a team, layer, and we do that through listening and I,

when, you know, if we’re in an economic environment where we can’t see 24 hours in front of us, what we have to do is rely on other senses. And the other sense that we have is listening is the sound of our employees telling us and we have to get a little psychological we have to go back to our high school psychology books with Abraham Maslow and figure out if, if we can’t be solely focused on self actualization right now we’re on preservation itself. And this is this is a more general idea probably than it is for financial services because financial services and a lot of ways have the exact opposite problem where they have so much business right now and so many loan applications The process that they can barely see straight. But other other industries in this in the customers that those financial services organizations are serving and trying to keep alive are in crisis mode. And so they have to reduce, they have to go back down the the pyramid of needs and start thinking about the tool. Do I have the tools to do my work? Do I have the managerial support? It’s so the How to have engagement comes to surveys, you know, engagement is measured and has been measured for decades by this big research project. We know what the drivers of engagement are, we’re going to ask 37 or 40 items of all employees, and we’re going to cut that data down to two employee demographics. And we’re going to distribute all that data out to managers so that they can know you know, does my IT team. are they feeling trust in senior leadership? Do they know what their goals are? They feel engaged with those goals. That the measurement, the science, the science of engagement doesn’t change. But we also know that in battle, if this is more time, if two months ago was peacetime, and this is wartime, we can’t just rely on that annual process, or semi annual even if you do twice a year or once a year, once every three months, even that the feedback that I need from my team, I can’t wait three months to find out that half of my team is having internet issues, working from home because they live in one section of town. I need to know that right now. And so Yes, sir.

Ben Pankonin 16:35
Actually. Yeah, we had a we had a question in that was about, you know, sort of, like, how do we know if we’re doing an engagement survey once a year like, like, we can’t wait till December, but like, how do how do we how do we gauge whether or not employees are are engaged now?

Greg Harris 16:52
Yeah. You do that through the feedback that you’re getting. You do that through communication that you’re having about customer service you do but you do that by measuring the work that people are performing. The engagement survey is not engagement. It is a measurement just like you’re a fitness person, then your, your big strap an athlete person. I mean,

Ben Pankonin 17:21
every computer nerd does, yeah,

Greg Harris 17:24
fitness isn’t. If the fitness comes from the daily investment of time in the gym, it’s not the getting on the scale once a week or once a month. You have to get on the scale once a month and know if you’re making progress or not how much progress you’re making. But it’s the actual the image that you have up there surveys goals, one on ones feedback, recognition, talent reviews, these this is the blocking and tackling. This is the weightlifting and the cardio that goes into creating engagement. So we have to separate our thought or our association with engagement to being a single instance survey. It’s an important process. To do but engagement itself is much bigger than that in it. That’s the outcome. That’s the test. But the study is how are we setting and communicating goals and how we how we’re tracking that in a work from home world. Our goals as visible as they were? Did we have physical images physically, we have screens up at the offices that a call center had know how many calls that were making, what their time of response was on physical screens there. Do they have that same visibility to goals goal attainment, at when they’re working from home? Those are the questions that managers have to ask and have to solve for. Are they having Are they still increasing frequency of the conversation around those goals? That’s the one on one our managers doing check ins, with even more frequency is our senior leaders having more communication, one of the things we instituted we’ve been home three weeks now we’re 105 person technology company. So we all had the tools that we needed to work with from home before this, we just haven’t had the opportunity to use it and use it in unison, across all hundred five people. But one of the things we’re doing is increasing the level of senior leader communication that we do I read it daily digest and it’s, it’s really an opportunity for me and it’s a it’s a test for me to make sure that I’m plugging in and I’m poking around at people throughout the day 123 layers down in the organization to figure out what are the conversations? What are we hearing from customers? What are the employees and the more the better we are at doing that I digest that into a little Slack channel conversation that I’ve created in increasing engagement around that. So increasing the frequency you know, I in even with daily communication like that, I’ll have other members of our executive management team that will say, Hey, remember to remind people when we’re going back to the office, it’s been three weeks now and I’m like, well, isn’t everybody paying attention Due to the news, it’s not next week, it’s not a days it’s weeks, maybe months still. But But leadership communication at time of crisis involves over communication. And in sometimes we need our, our peers around us to say, you know, if you think you’ve said it once or twice,

go ahead and say it again.

Ben Pankonin 20:20
Yeah, I like I like that. I like that kind of concept to think about,

you know, how are you doing those check ins? And so, I did have some questions about how do we sort of creatively think about new ways to engage employees during this time that you know, when and one of them centered around, I believe this river city said, Hey, like, how do we, how do we do this in a way that we were used to doing in the office so one of the things we’ve kind of set around the offices you normally like, I could walk by somebody I could gauge from their demeanor, that you know, hey, they’re, they’re like they’re having an okay day to They or they’re maybe they’re not. And there were certain things I could just as a manager, whatever, be able to sort of like say, it looks like Greg’s doing okay today and, and like even with webcams that’s just a lot harder to do right now. Like, like how do we do that when I’m not seeing someone because that I’ve sort of realized that that tool of me sort of seeing their demeanor is gone right now. And we had several questions that were about that how do we do that?

Greg Harris 21:29
Yeah. So it’s a great question and you do it the same way I think or


we, if we know our people, if we their relationships with the people that we work with on a day in and day day out, I mean, I I know that one of our salespeople if I pull him up on our video cam, I know to the extent that his brow is furrowed,

what his week or what his day has been like he’s got the furrowed brow indicator. So it videos not perfect, but it still does. Give me the cues that I need. And in the the thoroughness that employees will come back, you ask them a question and the degree to which they are. They’re providing detail and providing rich context of the conversation they’re having with their customers is going to be, it’s going to be a tell. So it’s it just takes a little bit more focused effort. If I’m in the office, I’m not thinking if I’m on the road, I’m probably not checking in every day. But knowing that we’re all working from home simply asking people we almost have the license. You know, sometimes when we’re in the office, we go and stand over somebody’s shoulder and they’re like, what are we What are you working on today? They feel indicted they feel like you know, they’re being micro man. It’s we have that license to do that and to ask those questions that would be otherwise awkward right now and we didn’t do it you ask with excitement you don’t ask what are you doing today? As if though, you are checking to see if they’re, you know, watching Oprah etc. I don’t think that the show anymore sorry.

Watching the young and the restless, I know that shows still exists.

or, or, or working or, but it’s more you’re asking with a tone with an excited tone like what are you working on right now? What are you excited about? You know, is there anything that just punch in the face today? Those are the kind of questions that are going to create conversation and engagement in a virtual world.

Ben Pankonin 23:25
So we tried to figure out a cadence of questions like every week with our employees. And in fact, we shared this a couple weeks ago that that we asked two questions of our employees. So so I’m going to be vulnerable and say, This is what we do and and you can maybe help me to do this better. So the first question we ask is, what’s one thing that’s encouraged you this week? We started this kind of the week. And then and you know, we kind of break that out into our teams and try to like, you know, that way, you’ve got kind of a team of six to eight so you can kind of like check in on everybody. And then the other one was We ask is, what can we as a group do to support you and your community? So community meaning like family, the community, like clients, customers, this whole community of banking that we serve, that that kind of thing. So those are the two we asked, What else should we be asking?

Greg Harris 24:20
Yeah, I think that’s great. First of all, I think I think

keeping focused, you know, we turn on the news at night, and we have a million stimuli telling us that we should be really depressed and scared about what’s going on. But elevating the level of positivity by asking for encouragement or offering encouragement is a great place to start. I, I think keeping I think asking a question about performance asking the question about a goal that you’re working with, is there anything that you’re seeing right now that you see as an opportunity? Is there any conversation I’m doing this with a frontline of our customer, our account managers Our customer success managers almost on a daily basis, but is there anything that you’re hearing that’s different that you aren’t used to hearing? And sometimes the answer is no. Which is fine too, because that increases the idea that hey, maybe there is we are regaining some normalcy but but I love your idea of what what do you see that’s encouraging. I love asking a question about, about a goal that they have. And I also like to ask him about an obstacle. Is there anything that standing in your way? Is there anything? Is it tools? Is it people? Is it resource that you see where you’re not able to chase an opportunity?

Ben Pankonin 25:38
No, I love I love that feedback. We have a call later today and I’m gonna, I’m gonna be changing that. So I appreciate that. That’s some great feedback. We had a question in from from Brittany, who says many companies recommend doing like a virtual water cooler to keep up that sense of social interaction. What else would you recommend? helping employees feel engaged and interactive with coworkers like, like, how do we how do we help that?

Greg Harris 26:08
Yeah, I think that can work. I think it’s a great idea. And I’ve seen it executed I, I this this, this challenge exists, whether we’re virtual or whether we’re in the office, each team, you know, if you have a customer support team, if you have a lending team, if you have an analytics, analytics or a finance team, each of those teams probably has and can be characterized by a set of skill sets that might be more or less likely to engage it to have some of that social type interaction. So having team having a context of the team to create some of those, I think, for us, as a you know, where all our hundred and five people could kind of be put in three buckets. We have our sales marketing, we have our customer success and our analytics that people that are designing surveys and crunching data and then we have our research and development or our technology and product teams. Those three buckets are really are charged with the creating an opportunity for sharing and so they have, but they were doing this when we were all in the office or they’re doing it now, as we are remote they’re having show and shares as teams are having. They’re having training opportunities to make sure that we’re just as invested in career development. Career Development is a unique concept that’s a driver of employee engagement. It’s it’s what people people leave organizations when they don’t see opportunity for their, their career to grow. But in a world where we’re all a little, you know, we’re all tightening our belts a little bit probably a little less likely to send people away to conferences and buy them expensive training. We’re looking for opportunities to keep people sharp and keep people’s skills growing and so creating team opportunity to do that virtually and again, you know, you have somebody that’s really sharp with Excel let’s let’s put a note out to the whole company to say we’re going to have a 45 minute Lunch and Learn and Wes is going to do some tips and tricks you know you will too, you want to take your resume or your video conference experience to the next level. Jason is the best at that he’s going to show you how to create breakout rooms in a 45 minute, show and share. So creating training opportunities, creating social inbox in creating some social instance where there is there is open time where maybe there’s not a not an agenda in a cadence of those is, is a value, but it’s all in the context of the team or the or the division within within a company.

Ben Pankonin 28:34
I love that thought of how do we think about learning at this time and you know, growing in that way so and just career passing and developing. So we feel like we’re moving forward because we are if we’re doing the right things we are finding ways to move forward. No, I love that some some great questions. Now. I know that one of the things you guys Also sponsor and develop and gain a lot of insight and data from is this Best Places to Work and I see it, you know, some of our banking clients are, are among your lists of Best Places to Work so proud of them. So kudos to that. But also, this is something that you do nationwide to really celebrate good places to work. How do I how do I become a Best Places to Work? And what what does that mean? Yeah, that’s, I appreciate you asking about

Greg Harris 29:34
that. Our best place to work list of which we run five of 45 of those every year some of the most visible work that we do so we are capturing data, we are accepting applications, the the scoring that goes into Best Places to Work competition is 100% driven by the response to the survey questions that we’re getting from employee experience surveys. So we’re not having We’re not doing benefits audits we’re not at we’re not, you know, making subjective decisions about a really good essay that was written about an individual company. We’re going out to all employees, we’re capturing data. And this is what we’ve been doing for 17 years. And these processes, and we, we, we do this on a city by city basis, because we think that for the most part, recruitment is local, and to the extent that organizations want to brand themselves as a place that cares about culture, and that is forward looking with culture, this is a great opportunity for the highlight companies that are doing great work. So it’s so that that concept of engagement that we’ve talked about that we have, we have a research construct of 10 different components 10 different dimensions of engagement. Each of those dimensions is three or four items that we’re asking. And so we capture about a million and a half of those surveys every year, across 11,000 organizations we crunch that data that we publish those out as local lists to 45 different Media sponsors and we give an opportunity not just for organizations to make a list and brag about how they’re a great place to work, and that’s awesome. But we also want to tell the story of of work. Well done. You know, sometimes the business page of The Wall Street Journal does a really good job of, it’s kinda like the local newspaper shows us who’s who’s, who’s who the bad actors are. We want to create content around who the organizations are, that are really competing. I mean, it’s, it’s it in a world where from 2009 to 2019, we went from 11% unemployment to 3% of employment, recruitment and retention is a competitive sport, especially if you’re in metro areas where, where it is common for employees to hop from one organization to another. We are in a skills we have a huge skills gap in this in this country, and we do today and we did a month ago and we did a year ago. And so organizations have To be very strategic and very intentional about branding themselves, it creates accountability when you’re on a list of the best place to work, it creates accountability for you to get better, there has to be authenticity about what their real experiences working at your organization. And what you put out there. It’s no different than customer marketing. If you spent a ton of money on ads to say that you are the greatest product that does this. And customers come in and experience something different from that you’re done. If there’s not an authentic the same thing with branding as an employer, if you say you are a highly engaged workplace that values fun and values work life balance and somebody comes in fight figures out that’s not necessarily the case. You’ve got a real challenge to overcome. So it increases the accountability of what organizations can create a continuous improvement in their culture.

Ben Pankonin 32:52
Hmm. Well, I love the way you’re thinking about like, how you how you increase that culture long term, and I think so Sometimes, you know, we’ve got some people that are messaging me a little bit about these virtual water coolers. And I think the way you’re talking about, hey, we want to be a better engaged workforce. And the way we learn that is right now, right, like, like, that’s kind of what we’re learning as a company. We had. I’ve shared this a little bit publicly, but, you know, we have about a third of our workforce works remotely. And on a normal day, and so one of our almost fully remote staff members, works about three hours away from us comes in, you know, every few weeks or so, and she said, she said last week on one of our calls, she said, you know, nothing really has changed about my work. But what has happened is I feel more engaged because all of you got better at basically a one hand as a leader I felt I mean, I was crushed, right? Because like, I Have not supported her well. But on the other side, like our team is learning how to do this remote work much better. And I even think of, you know, branch to branch types of remote work where you’re collaborating across teams or you’ve got a team that’s separated across branches. Like we really could use this time to learn better. How to do that. Any any insights from you on like, how we how we really use this time to learn how to do that better? Yeah.

Greg Harris 34:33
I we’re going to we’re naturally going to because we’re thinking about it, because we’re talking about it. We were making these decisions six months ago, and had been for years and physical offices. We just didn’t probably know about it. We organize our offices, we put teams here and that theme there, and we put a kitchen here and we create this flow of traffic probably with some organizations will do that intentionally and some, some may not. So we’re making all the same decision. Today, we just have to, we have to be thoughtful and intentional about the flow of conversation that we are creating. And that almost always starts with managers on one to one conversation and one to Team conversation. So the job right now is on managers to reach out and for employees to be receptive when they, they reach out. So I don’t know that there is a, I don’t know that a white paper that says do these six things would be the right thing. But just having that awareness saying, the flow of information changed, the need to catch that information has not changed. And that, you know, I remember growing from a 30 person company to 100 person company, and taking out an entire floor and an office space in Omaha. And the r&d team was kind of in the back of the office and they had a back door and they would get to the elevator and leave without anybody seeing them. And that was A visibility challenge that we had to try to solve, do I lock that door down? Do I create more times in the day where we’re going to bring people together? Do I bring food in? So we we solved those? We, we asked ourselves those those same questions in a physical environment. Now we’re asking them in a virtual environment, and in a lot of times, the solution may not be completely different.

Ben Pankonin 36:27
Yeah, I appreciate that. And we had a couple more questions on, hey, how do I do this virtual water cooler? I can tell you that. I didn’t come up with it. But somebody at our office will actually came up with it at our office. He said, Hey, I’m going to open up a Slack channel called office hours. And then I’ll just whenever anybody wants to jump in, you can turn video on or not turn video on but like, if you’ve got a sort of like gap, and you’re not on, you know, zoom or GoToMeeting or whatever, chat You can just go go into that chat. And there might be one person in there. There might be five people in there. But but it’s a way to kind of like, circulate that kind of conversation.

Greg Harris 37:12
Yeah, we’ve done that with our zoom rooms in the office. We’ve done that with some of our remote, we do about eight or nine remote employees in a normal environment will just leave rooms open we, I feel like we use slack as an organization but whether using slack or teams or Skype, whatever messaging however people are communicating with each other in real time. There are affinity channels that are created I would look I look at it in a water cooler or virtual water cooler doesn’t have to be a live feed necessarily a good simply, I’m looking at some of ours and I’m trying to figure out how many of these were created in the last three weeks we have one about good reading. We have ones called dogs of Q w which is really an assortment of people posting pictures of their dogs. We have some some very business very practical, we have one called customer facing, which is capturing voice of the, of the customer. We have a ping pong channel that’s been shut down for about three days, actually, there’s a virtual image of Pong, the old 1980s video game. So to the extent that those threads represent affinity and affinity groups that allow people to opt in and opt out and really dial up, there are going to be, there’s going to be a temptation probably to, to over to you, we can get inundated with some of that. So actually, in a remote work environment, I’ve got all of those notifications turned off, because I know that the pinging of those is, has been increasing in the last month.

Unknown Speaker 38:43
Yeah, no, I appreciate that. And you’ve got some data here too, that you’ve got on kind of understanding this work from home. I’d love for you to dive into that with a little bit of, you know, help us understand what you’re thinking about these Kind of checkpoints and and what kind of numbers you’re looking for?

Greg Harris 39:03
Yeah, absolutely. So three weeks ago, the one of the first things that we did when we tried when we started asking ourselves, how can we help our customers? We know that asking that the typical business of asking 40 questions in these big long engagement surveys is going to be a tougher ask of our of our customers. But what’s the what what’s Top of Mind what’s the most urgent use of our ability to solicit feedback and we really tried to create, we created a work from home template to work from home readiness survey template asked about Do I have the technology to do I need to have the support from my manager? And I have some data here and this is I think there are about 40 organizations represented probably about 35 to 40,000 completed surveys, represented here in the blue bar that you’re showing Ben is the percent that agree or strongly agree to that statement. If you notice anything, you know, we can read the items, I have the technology I need to stay connected, I feel well supported, I feel by my manager and I feel well supported by my organization. Remember the three dimensions of the organization of the company experience that we talked about. And the frequency of communication from leaders has been effective? Those are the questions we were most interested in hearing from our customers. And we thought that was the data that would be the most actionable and of course, correct days into them going work from home. In some cases, some of these customers ran this actually, before they even formally went work from home. That’s why it was called a readiness survey. But I think that just looking at that chart zooming out on it, the fact that that six of those, I’m sorry, five of those six items, have favourability. That’s in the 89 to 93% rates means that organizations actually are doing well. A couple things could be at work, they’re either either change management either our customers are really good at change management. That’s awesome. Their quantum customers


the the employees just are sinking more, you know, when when they know what’s when there is a harmony between what the employee wants and what the employer wants, there’s generally going to be more favor. And I think both of those things can be at work right now. But you, you know, anybody that’s run an organizational survey, when they give employees an opportunity to rate anything on a six point Likert scale 90% favours or above, it’s fairly rare there. We have a unique opportunity with our employees, we have their attention, we have their engagement. And more than anything in that data, I think it says we have that most organizations have an employer base that wants to make the adjustments that they needed wants to be just as successful or more successful in whatever environment that they’re working on and really the 1% 2% 3% that were strongly disagree or disagree to those items, really creates an opportunity for managers to dive into those individual instances. And in figure and those are usually very tactical things. It’s the internet instance I talked about earlier out, somebody realizes they’re, they’re in a dead spot, or they’re balancing their video conferencing with their three kids that are doing work from school from home down downstairs, it’s great bandwidth issues, but those are those are, if they’re not direct instances to respond to that you have a problem. You know, sometimes that might be an ISP that that can solve that. But simply having the empathy and recognizing where that problem exists, increases the trust between manager and employee. Yeah, I know I appreciate that. And I know you’ve got some some other questions about the impact of these. Were just really interesting to Yeah, we asked employees a How does this change how is your work changing in 66 and a half percent say this is a no work No impact to my work at all. 30.7% say it’s had some impact, but a very small numbers that have had a major impact. And I think though that 3% is where managers have to be very sensitive to and, and that’s where there’s an element that we haven’t really talked about yet today with work from home, Ben. And that’s almost the emotional or the state of mind that happens with big change in the sensitivity that we have that there are unique family relationships that are unique individual psychology relationships that we have to be sensitive to. And in that 3% may be an indicator of the degree to which or the scale of that challenge that we have to

have to try to overcome.

Ben Pankonin 43:47
Yeah, yeah, we’ve got a lot of a lot of new new teachers out

from our office, that are that are now part time teachers and all of them have been advocating for teachers to get a huge raise. That, isn’t that that that makes so much sense. It’s exactly right.

So yeah, I can I could definitely hear that.

So overall favourability by org now what do you what are you displaying here?

Greg Harris 44:15
What we’re trying to show in this image is the range, the best in class or by for work for work from home right readiness versus the the lower end and even the lower end in this case, I’m going to arrange and favourability is 85 to 99% on that first question, and at the lowest the the I have the materials to perform effectively My home is 63 to 95%. So showing the variation across organization that shows you that there is there are people that are getting this right and there are people that might be their organizations that might be struggling. But that’s that’s the value of of that data over All that tread line again, if we, you know, when we report on overall engagement when we issue a trend report, which we do once a year on the engagement of small, medium large organizations, we’re not getting favourability in the 85 to 95% across, across across most items. So there is variation, but the the overall results are trending very favorably.

Ben Pankonin 45:26
I had a message that came in just a minute ago that from a banker who said they can’t do zoom calls, you know, there’s obviously some security concerns with zoom and different different video technologies. Color there’s a there’s a lot of different options there some Microsoft Slack, and we’ve talked through several of those, we’re using GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar as well. But you know what, what are the key elements that need to be present to be able to collaborate I noticed tools were one of the lowers sections on these three surveys. So like what needs to be there to be able to engage well remotely

Greg Harris 46:09
it’s it’s communication and if that’s phone communication, we still have phones that dial out and that dial in if that’s the way to the company that says we can’t do video calling, I would stay on top of that I get regulation I get highly regulated environments but stay on top of that because even the major players in this space the Cisco the WebEx, the zoom the GoToWebinar have been advancing their security even in the weeks that we’ve been in work from home I know zoom had a two weeks ago one week into this work from home at a huge upgrade that bolts new button pushing that allows actually you have to accept people in and that’s how you keep hackers from from getting in. And so so the technology is improving faster than its improved in the past to stay on top of that because that that there may be opportunities To introduce it but but phone in chat in it, we just need person to person and person to Team communication however you’re going to however that’s going to,

to formulate

Ben Pankonin 47:15
No, I appreciate that. That’s.

That’s great. By age, I think this is a really interesting one because a lot of times we talk about millennials and how they engage and you know, the challenges associated with different different age ranges. This one was some interesting data when I kind of looked at it. Yeah,

Greg Harris 47:34
that’s why I wanted to throw this in here because it is our It is our supposedly it has been our millennials that have been raising their hand for 10 years or eight years. And asking, you know, to equip me to work from anywhere in the world that I want to that I want to work. One of the

things I noticed that I

I’ve heard anecdotally from very close customers of ours that when they announced work from home You know, we have been, we have been equipping many of our people in technology or in professional services to work from home for a long time. But as we have been doing that and getting in workplace flexibility is something that we know from survey people has been an important demand from talent for four years.

Immediately upon announcing that we’re going to work from home who was it that raised their hand first What? What generations Oh, no, what do you mean I have to work from home.

I don’t like my chair at home. I don’t I don’t know if I

have reliable internet connection. I don’t, you know, this same population that was the first in it but it tells us probably what they were asking for all along. They didn’t really want to work from home two years ago. They wanted to work, work flexibility, they want to be able to ramp up work when they are in the most creative hour, the days maybe ramp work down if they are or to change that on a day by day, week by week basis. That probably doesn’t work for all organizations or follow all industries who have very specific hours. But this is an interesting data point and that the 35 to 65 year old age set seems to have adjusted to the change the best. It is the over 65, which we could probably speculate in terms of, of new tool adoption, there are going to be some challenges there and just behavior habits. But the under 35 were the least favorable or had the highest expectation coming in to materials and equipment. And so we’re still working on that we still trying to dive into the why on that, but it is interesting, nonetheless, because it is a stark difference. That’s why we print those No, those numbers in red.

Ben Pankonin 49:48
Yeah, no, I that’s

it was honestly surprising, but I could see, you know, I can see where you’re coming to some of that. So I mean, I’m anticipating some more questions as already results of that one out and it looks like blowing up here, some Twitter ones. But yeah, I’m seeing some saying, hey, like how do we? How do we engage a younger demographic? Are there some different tactics you would use to engaging a younger demographic?

Greg Harris 50:21
I think that

I think where I would start is inclusion and decision making to the extent that younger demographics or newer employees, but boys with younger 10, less lesser 10 year may not feel they have the managerial span of control to be a part of decision making to pull to pull individuals in to the advisory teams or to cross cross functional teams that are making decisions about tools. If you’re evaluating this tool or that tool or introducing a new, a new process that’s going to respond to this, to be inclusive of those not just the managerial decision makers that are probably more than likely to be in the 35 to 65 year old age group, but grab some of your over 65, grab some of your under 30 fives, as advisors, the earlier you get all talent into that decision or all segments of your talent into that decision making the more bought, and they’re going to be in the decisions that, you know, if decisions are forced on me, I’m probably going to have a stronger and more negative opinion about them than if I was, you know, if if we can do that, whether that’s an advisory committee that’s making those decisions or whether it’s going back to the idea of pulse surveys, whether we’re just asking people, you know, what do you what do you do here? What do you recommend here, this is a time where the millennials, the digital age, the digital generation that grew up on these tools should be educated the entire workplace. So so even leaning on them harder to get to create readiness and to create solutions around tools is a very real strategy.

Ben Pankonin 51:54
So I had some, some questions around recognition that I’d love to ask you about. One of those is sort of, we’re seeing certain people are, it’s just easier to recognize that I met this time, right? If you’re a commercial lender and you just processed, you know, 50 PPP loans over the weekend, you’ve got some very thankful small businesses that are messaging you, you’re getting some affirmation there. But you know, we also know that there’s a bunch of underwriters behind that there’s a bunch of different job functions that maybe don’t get as much recognition. Like, how do you do that? What would be your recommendation for helping that?

Greg Harris 52:40
Yeah, it is the job number one of manager for anybody that carries a manager or anybody that has one to 10 direct reports. This is the question that they have to solve because their job and it’s you have to put your MBA hat on and say, for every job category that I have for every job description that I have one One or two or three numbers does that job description drive. And if we know those numbers, and we can break those into annual or quarterly or monthly or to some summonses daily, but we know the activities that generate that loan renewal of that loan initiation. So we have to break the work down into numbers, tangible KPIs, and we have to do that anyway. Because we have to have monthly conversations around for with every individual about performance or quarterly, we have to figure out at the end of the year, who’s best, who’s most right for promotion, so we just have to make sure that the systems and the data that we’re looking at from a performance perspective is informing how we, how we recognize and breaking that up into segmental measurable numbers, but it is that is the job number one of managers is to figure out and to figure out who’s performing who’s performing at their best in every job category. There is because you have to the The better you are recognizing model behavior, the more more of a performance oriented culture that will that will raise out of that the more the more others and newcomers into the organization will look around and say, oh, Jackie is getting a lot of recognition for that I’m going to do the things that are going to get that that’s the end. This is I’m talking short solely about intrinsic recognition. I’m talking about high fives I’m talking about elevating the visibility of great work. I’m not talking about 50 $50 gift cards or or, you know, rewards that might come that’s a different that’s a different topic.

Ben Pankonin 54:34
Yeah, yeah. No, we’ve, we’ve kind of done that in a couple ways. One, we’ve been putting some things into our app that we’re going to be announcing about just messaging positive engagement. But you know, we we’ve always been trying to do that I stole from an entrepreneur friend of mine who created a channel, a Slack channel called wows. And so we we started adopting that years ago, where it was just a way for people to say, Hey, I just got this feedback from a client from the community, from whatever somebody got recognized. It’s just a way for us to kind of jump in there and say, Hey, you just did a great job. And somebody noticed,

Greg Harris 55:15
yep, we had that. That’s a that’s a product. It’s one of our it’s one of the products that’s getting the most usage usage from our customers. Right now. We’ve seen a spike in recognition usage, because we did some of that stuff was already happening offline. With high fives and shout outs and gongs and in the office outside of the office, you know it but it’s two things together. It’s it’s for us the product is it looks like a social feed. In fact, it probably feels a little bit like Facebook, but the recognition is being tied to a goal. So on the left hand column, it shows organizational goals and the team goals that drive those organization goals. And then there is a feed of Greg recognizes Jodi for such and such and then as a storytelling element, I write a paragraph and I think do that once a day, I could do that 10 times a day. But all of a sudden you have this long newsfeed, you can cut that by department or cut that by, by division. But increasing visibility of that of that work. And then when I’m on the road, or you know, I just, I just, instead of checking Instagram, I’m thumbing through

what are the kids call it scrolling? Through our recognition feed? So I know. Yeah.

Ben Pankonin 56:27
Well, I think I think that’s a critical piece for you know, for anybody when you start moving remotely as we, you know, we sort of started one area, which is like a triage unit where we’re like, hey, let’s, let’s make sure that mechanically we can communicate and then we start to you open it up talking about Maslow’s hierarchy. Maybe we need like an engagement hierarchy. Then we reach, you know, positive reinforcement, you know, assignment two goals. It seems like you’re really building a lot of those blocks for us in this webinar today.

Greg Harris 57:00
Hoping to?

Ben Pankonin 57:02
Well, thank you. I mean, thank you so much for the expertise and the data that you have to share with us has been phenomenal. You know, I know you’ve got a few ways for us to engage with you. Obviously, you have products to really help with this engagement space and really are at a national leader in this so so thanks for sharing your expertise. I’ve got got your contact info there. If people want to get ahold of you, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

Greg Harris 57:33
Yeah, thanks man. email, Twitter, LinkedIn, any social media

is is just fine. That email will will come straight to me I love to love to answer any questions and be of support we’re here to help.

Ben Pankonin 57:49
Awesome Well, thanks again for your time. Appreciate your your friendship through all of this and and hopefully, you know your your son will get his graduation And you’ll you’ll have some good social media on how he’s sort of like getting his diploma. So That’s right. That’s right. I’m gonna make him wear whereas guys

Greg Harris 58:09
cap and gown for a week inside out.

Ben Pankonin 58:13
Well, I will talk about some great photos videos, you know, make him feel like, like he just had the best opportunity with this one.

Greg Harris 58:23
Absolutely. We’ll do it. Thank you, Ben. Thanks for this opportunity. Hey, thanks, Greg. You bet.