Designing Podium’s Pulse Well-being Survey

Podium Pulse- Identifying the Need

In our last article, we at Podium started to talk about how working from home could effect the well-being and engagement of employees. The current circumstances are undoubtedly unprecedented and with so many of us suddenly having to work from home, we promised to do something to help organisations get through this period of change.
"Isolation is one of the most common issues raised by remote workers and can lead to lower levels of job satisfaction"
We designed the Pulse Well Being Survey to help organisations build a picture of employee well-being and identify issues that impact them while working remotely or during times of abrupt change. 

Research

In designing the survey, we reviewed large-scale surveys of remote workers such as Buffer’s ‘state of remote work’ survey and Global Workplace Analytics’ ‘Remote Work Statistics’.

We also reviewed the academic literature for job satisfaction, well-being and engagement for remote workers to build a survey that is relevant to these circumstances. The survey measures eight scales related to personal and work adjustment, and potential determinants of adjustment specific to remote working. These scales (well being, focus, motivation, work/life balance, communication, connectedness, support, and security) were measured by gathering the opinions from employees as statements and placing them on a point scale from 0-100 in each case.

1. Well-Being

Working from home - Pulse - well-being survey

The well-being scale concerns general life satisfaction and quality of life and is based on the 'World Health Organisation - Five Well-being Index' (WHO-5). The scale is brief and only consists of five non-invasive items which makes it ideal for a quick survey. A recent review by Topp et al. (2015) found the scale to have wide applications as a generic scale for well-being. As such, we use the scale as a positive indicator of general well-being and adjustment.

Participants are asked to rate how often they have felt about the statements over the last few weeks. Ratings are on a 6-point scale ranging from 'at no time' (0) to 'all of the time' (5). A total well-being index is calculated by summing the individual item scores and then multiplying the result by 4. The index score ranges from 0 to 100, where scores close to 0 represent low well-being or quality of life and scores close to 100 represent high well-being or quality of life.

Given the extensive use of the scale world-wide, organisations can benchmark against common international standards. For example, a 2012 survey of 35,500 Europeans in all EU member states found the average well-being index was 62 (Eurofund, 2012). We can consider this a baseline score for populations of similar countries undergoing an economic crisis, though we recognise that the current crisis is more profound than the Great Recession. In interpreting the results, organisations which find results significantly lower than the EU baseline can evaluate the written feedback responses to help understand the causes and what they can do to improve employee well-being. They can also look to the other scales measured in the pulse survey to see if specific actions can be applied.

2. Work Focus

Working from home - Focus

Another positive indicator of adjustment typically found in employee engagement surveys is the ability to focus on work. Working from home under suboptimal conditions and during sudden and unplanned transitions are likely to result in distractions that can reduce productivity (Kossek et al., 2006).

The Work Focus scale concerns the ability to ignore non-work distractions in the environment and focus on the task at hand. Participants are asked to rate how much they agree with the statements over the last two weeks. Ratings are on a 5-point scale ranging from 'strongly disagree' (0) to 'strongly agree' (4). Similar to the WHO Well-being index, a total Work Focus index is calculated by summing the individual item scores and then transposing the result to a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, where scores close to 0 represent low work-life balance and scores close to 100 represent high work-life balance or ability to switch off from work.

While managing distractions is not in the direct control of the organisation, managers should expect that disruptions and distractions are likely to be a part of any work-to-home transition. This is especially true for parents who find themselves having to manage additional parenting responsibilities. If work focus is an issue then organisations can take the opportunity to show their support and understanding as well as offer incentives or kits for setting up a home office, as day-care and other incentives, may not be an option for some time.

3. Work Motivation

According to Bakker and Salanova (2006), employee engagement is defined as “the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation, and put discretionary effort into their work.” The Work Motivation scale measures employees' expectations and motivations with regards to work and the discretionary effort they are prepared to put into the achievement of their objectives. We use this scale as another indicator of adjustment to remote work. 

Participants are asked to rate how much they agree with the statements over the last few weeks. Ratings are on a 5-point scale ranging from 'strongly disagree' (0) to 'strongly agree' (4). A total Work Motivation index is calculated by summing the individual item scores and then transposing the result to a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, where scores close to 0 represent low expectations, motivation and effort to achieve work objectives, and scores close to 100 represent high work achievement.

As life and work goes on, organisations want to be sure that employees are motivated and able to do their work. Use this indicator to gain insight into any issues your employees face in achieving their work objectives.

4. Work-Life Balance

Pulse survey - Work-lefe balance

According to a 2019 study "The State of Remote Work", one of the biggest challenges for staff working remotely is the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Among survey respondents, 22% said they had issues separating their work from their personal lives. These findings are supported academically with Halford (2005) and Harris (2003) finding that remote work blurred the lines between work and non-work time. Furthermore, work-life balance is important to well-being as imbalances can result in work-family conflict (Tremblay & Thomsin, 2012).

This scale looks at the ability of staff to switch off from work and maintain a healthy separation between work and non-work activities. Participants are asked to rate how much they agree with the statements over the last few weeks. Ratings are on a 5-point scale ranging from 'strongly disagree' (0) to 'strongly agree' (4). A total Balance index is calculated by summing the individual item scores and then transposing the result to a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, where scores close to 0 represent low work-life balance and scores close to 100 represent high work-life balance or ability to switch off from work.

Use this scale to help identify if a work-life imbalance is negatively affecting employee well-being or contributing to employee burnout. If organisations find themselves with low Balance index scores then their senior managers can set a good example by not engaging with work messaging apps or emails after hours or supporting non-standard work patterns. Employees need to know that their personal time is respected, so set clear expectations for work and show flexibility with regards to how and when people can work. After all, working from home has been generally found to be more productive than working from an office, especially when employees have the flexibility to manage their own time (Mann at al., 2000).

“Clear and unambiguous communication is especially important during times of crisis as employees look to organisational leaders for direction and reassurance.”

5. Communication 

Clear and unambiguous communication is especially important during times of crisis as employees look to organisational leaders for direction and reassurance. Organisational communication and access to communication-enhancing technologies have been found to improve employee feelings of engagement and reduce feelings of isolation (Golden et al., 2008). Improved communication can also help reduce the erosion of trust and loyalty between remote workers and their organisations (Mann & Holdworth, 2003). Furthermore, improved organisational communication can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction for remote workers (Smith et al., 2015). The Communication scale surveys employees' perceptions of the overall effectiveness of communication from executive team members during a time of unprecedented change. 

Participants are asked to rate how much they agree with the statements over the last few weeks. Ratings are on a 5-point scale ranging from 'strongly disagree' (0) to 'strongly agree' (4). A total Communication index is calculated by summing the individual item scores and then transposing the result to a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, where scores close to 0 represent a lack of communication and scores close to 100 represent the organisation and its leaders are communicating clearly and regularly and that messages are getting across.

Organisations with a low Communication index score may benefit from a wider range of communication channels and face-to-face opportunities where applicable. Such organisations can review their communication strategies to help all employees feel more connected to the organisation.

6. Connectedness

Working from home - Connectedness

Isolation is one of the most common issues raised by remote workers and can lead to lower levels of job satisfaction (Virick et al., 2010) and higher turnover rates if left unresolved (Cooper & Kurland, 2002). The Connectedness scale surveys how connected employees feel to their colleagues and the organisation. 

Participants are asked to rate how much they agree with the statements over the last few weeks. Ratings are on a 5-point scale ranging from 'strongly disagree' (0) to 'strongly agree' (4). A total Connectedness index is calculated by summing the individual item scores and then transposing the result to a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, where scores close to 0 represent low work-life balance and scores close to 100 represent high work-life balance or ability to switch off from work.

Organisations can use this feedback to provide opportunities for remote social interaction or establish more regular check-ins. Virtual ‘water-cooler’ conversations can help develop interpersonal relationships at work and improve feelings of connectedness.

“Remote workers feel that managers are out of touch with their needs more often than their office colleagues.”

7. Support

Managerial support and recognition can take many different forms, including effective communication between staff and managers, involving staff in important decisions and giving staff clear feedback on their performance. Remote workers feel that managers are out of touch with their needs more often than their office colleagues (Morganson, 2010). It has also been found that reduced impressions of support also lead to lower employee well-being (Bentley et al., 2016).

The Support scale probes employees’ perceptions of support (both emotional and material) as well as the amount of recognition they receive concerning their work. Participants are asked to rate how much they agree with the statements over the last few weeks. Ratings are on a 5-point scale ranging from 'strongly disagree' (0) to 'strongly agree' (4). A total Support index is calculated by summing the individual item scores and then transposing the result to a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, where scores close to 0 represent low perceptions of support and scores close to 100 represent high perceptions of support.

Use the feedback from this scale to increase the frequency of regular check-ins. While this can take the form of daily one-to-one calls or team calls, the most important feature of these calls is to provide employees with an opportunity to be heard and where they can express their concerns and state their needs. Using the Pulse survey is another method of showing support, though organisations which use the survey should aim to appropriately communicate the survey’s findings and any actions that may result as a method of showing support.

8. Security

Abrupt and unexpected change can lead to feelings of insecurity, which in turn, can lead to increased turnover and reduced work output. In developing this scale, we looked to the impact of the previous economic crash on well-being and one of the major contributors to reduced well-being was reduced job-security and uncertainty (Böckerman et al., 2011).

The Security scale concerns employees' feelings of stability, security, and trust in the organisation's ability to deal with uncertainty and future challenges. 

Participants are asked to rate how much they agree with the statements over the last few weeks. Ratings are on a 5-point scale ranging from 'strongly disagree' (0) to 'strongly agree' (4). A total Security index is calculated by summing the individual item scores and then transposing the result to a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, where scores close to 0 represent a low sense of security and scores close to 100 represent a high sense of security.

Organisations can use feedback from this scale to focus their communication on addressing or improving employees’ sense of security. Sharing good-news stories, company success and a plan of action with clear milestones can help boost confidence and allow employees to focus on their work.

To find out more about how you can access and use this survey for free during the Coronavirus pandemic, please contact your Podium Partner or get in touch with us directly by visiting www.podium365.com

References

Böckerman, P., Ilmakunnas, P., & Johansson, E. (2011). Job security and employee well-being: Evidence from matched survey and register data. Labour Economics18(4), 547-554.

Bentley, T. A., Teo, S. T. T., McLeod, L., Tan, F., Bosua, R., & Gloet, M. (2016). The role of organisational support in teleworker wellbeing: A socio-technical systems approach. Applied Ergonomics52, 207-215.

Cooper, C. D., & Kurland, N. B. (2002). Telecommuting, professional isolation, and employee development in public and private organizations. Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior23(4), 511-532.

Golden, T. D., Veiga, J. F., & Dino, R. N. (2008). The impact of professional isolation on teleworker job performance and turnover intentions: Does time spent teleworking, interacting face-to-face, or having access to communication-enhancing technology matter?. Journal of Applied Psychology93(6), 1412.

Eurofound (2012), Third European Quality of Life Survey - Quality of life in Europe: Impacts of the crisis, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. doi:10.2806/42471

Halford, S. (2005). Hybrid workspace: Respatialisations of work, organisation and management. New Technology, Work and Employment20(1), 19-33.

Harris, L. (2003). Homebased teleworking and the employment relationship. Personnel review.
Kossek, E. E., Lautsch, B. A., & Eaton, S. C. (2006). Telecommuting, control, and boundary management: Correlates of policy use and practice, job control, and work-family effectiveness. Journal of Vocational Behavior68(2), 347-367.

Mann, S., Varey, R., & Button, W. (2000). An exploration of the emotional impact of teleworking via computermediated communication. Journal of managerial Psychology.

Mann, S., & Holdsworth, L. (2003). The psychological impact of teleworking: stress, emotions and health. New Technology, Work and Employment18(3), 196-211.

Morganson, V. J., Major, D. A., Oborn, K. L., Verive, J. M., & Heelan, M. P. (2010). Comparing telework locations and traditional work arrangements. Journal of Managerial Psychology.

Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., & Salanova, M. (2006). The measurement of work engagement with a short questionnaire: A cross-national study. Educational and psychological measurement66(4), 701-716.

Smith, S. A., Patmos, A., & Pitts, M. J. (2018). Communication and teleworking: A study of communication channel satisfaction, personality, and job satisfaction for teleworking employees. International Journal of Business Communication55(1), 44-68.

Topp, C. W., Østergaard, S. D., Søndergaard, S., & Bech, P. (2015). The WHO-5 Well-Being Index: a systematic review of the literature. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics84(3), 167-176.

Tremblay, D. G., & Thomsin, L. (2012). Telework and mobile working: analysis of its benefits and drawbacks. International Journal of Work Innovation1(1), 100-113.

Virick, M., DaSilva, N., & Arrington, K. (2010). Moderators of the curvilinear relation between extent of telecommuting and job and life satisfaction: The role of performance outcome orientation and worker type. Human Relations63(1), 137-154.


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