A rapidly-launched employee survey is bringing deep insights to Americares and helping to create a more connected organization.

Every year, Americares reaches more than 90 countries with health programs, medicine and medical supplies. The world’s leading nonprofit provider of donated medicine and supplies, Americares supports more than 4,000 partner health centers worldwide, while at the same time operating primary care clinics in Colombia, El Salvador, India and its home state of Connecticut.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Americares is providing millions of infection-prevention supplies including masks, gloves and disinfectants to health facilities in more than a dozen countries.

Many of its employees work directly with patients or with health workers, providing critical training in areas such as infection prevention, disaster preparedness and mental health.

This work has been crucial to the organization’s COVID-19 response as staff of under-resourced health centers have struggled to cope with the demands placed on them.

Overcoming the barriers to gathering feedback from a global workforce

For an HR leader working in a humanitarian NGO, the health and wellbeing of employees carries a deep sense of responsibility, especially when your people are directly and indirectly helping to save lives and improve health in the midst of a pandemic.

As Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Americares, Kevin Gilrain was faced with the challenge of how to gather feedback from its globally-dispersed workforce and ensure they were well supported throughout the pandemic.

“On March 16, the majority of our global workforce, around 400 employees, suddenly started working from home,” says Kevin. “By mid-April, it was clear that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis was going to continue for months.”

The organization needed a fast and reliable mechanism to find out how employees were feeling and coping with the new reality of work. Kevin decided to try the Peachy Mondays COVID-19 Employee Pulse Check as a way to rapidly gather insights from the workforce. But it wasn’t going to be easy, since many staff are based at remote locations and communications would need to be distributed in multiple languages.

“We have done broader annual HQ employee opinion surveys in the past, but this is the first time that we have been able to build a common survey for all our global staff, because of the ease of launching the survey in multiple languages. That felt good and gave us a true global perspective on how our staff were doing across the globe.”

Real-time insights led to immediate action

A total of 427 employees from 11 countries were invited to participate in the survey, and 304 responded. While 95% of HQ staff responded to the survey, the overall response rate was 71%.

Kevin believes that, because it was the first time they had surveyed beyond HQ, some staff were uncertain about, or were not used to, sharing feedback based on cultural norms. Nevertheless, the organization was able to glean valuable insights from its overseas offices.

The quick turnaround – from setting up the survey to seeing the results – meant that Kevin and his team could build a picture of how their employees were coping with the crisis and where they could provide more support.

What is especially helpful about this survey tool is that you can see the results as the participants respond and see how the sentiment is building. We were able to immediately get a sense of staff wellbeing and their ability to effectively work from home.

Kevin Gilrain, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Americares

“The core questions about leadership, management, and clarity of communications provided insights into the frequency of our messaging to staff, the support we need to provide to our managers to effectively demonstrate empathy and flexibility to their team members, and the ability for all to continue to get their work done and understand shifting priorities.

“An immediate action we took as the feedback was still coming in, was to establish bi-weekly manager forums, to share, support and exchange ideas and approaches for empathetic and clear management of staff.”

Insights that are creating a more connected Americares

Employees’ willingness to take part in the employee survey check has given Americares valuable insights that are feeding into its workforce and scenario planning.

“In addition to getting a quick and accurate read on staff wellbeing – we care deeply about our staff and their safety – we were able to quickly add a custom question about people’s openness to return to the workplace, when the time was right,” Kevin says.

“This extra question enhanced our understanding of where staff were hesitant to return, where some were looking forward to return, and where staff felt it unlikely that they could or would return to the office any time soon, if at all.”

As a result of the pulse check and the action that Americares has taken in response, the HR team has a better understanding of how to support employees throughout the crisis.

“The feedback has already helped us build deeper and more regular communications channels with staff. We are sharing messages about our work, our work-from-home reality, the COVID-19 pandemic, and support resources that are available to staff and managers,” says Kevin.

“The Peachy Mondays COVID-19 Employee Pulse Check provided clear, real-time feedback with the ability to explore deeper insights in an anonymous way.”

The COVID-19 Employee Pulse Check is free to use, quick to set up and offers rapid insights. To find out more contact the team@peachymondays.com.

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