Ask, Analyze, and Act: A Pulse Check on Crisis Communications

June 8, 2020

Retainify helps organizations make feedback normal in the workplace. Their unified SaaS solution helps companies increase the frequency of giving and receiving feedback by tracking the sentiment of employees throughout their employment lifecycle and sharing the feedback data back to business leaders. Improving the frequency of feedback helps organizations proactively identify and address issues early to mitigate business risks. 

We spoke to Retainify founder Yvonne Lau to understand how to execute a crisis communication pulse survey.

Retainify is part of ventureLAB’s inaugural Tech Undivided cohort.


Building a healthy and strong workplace culture is a top priority for many high-performing organizations. An atmosphere built on positivity encourages employee development, improved performance and a culture that embraces innovation and diversity. On the opposite spectrum, the culture pendulum can swing towards a negative environment that can lead to adverse effects on team dynamics.

One of the best ways to raise employee morale and create a more positive and happy workplace environment is to regularly take a pulse on culture that fosters and encourages honest feedback. If your employees feel safe to always share what they think about your organization, management, and other employees, they are more likely to be engaged and actively promote your organization to help you build your employer brand. This is particularly important while weathering the effects of COVID-19, when working remotely and feeling disconnected can lead to lower productivity and engagement.


Ask: When there’s an elephant in the room, introduce him. 

Data is an integral part of decision making. Feedback can become a controversial issue that everyone knows about but no one discusses because it creates uncomfortable tension. During a crisis, communication and evidence-based decisions are a critical part of the business continuity . 

“Companies who lead with compassion will come out of this crisis stronger than ever before because compassion increases employee loyalty and trust,” says Retainify founder Yvonne Lau. 

Compassion can only be built by understanding the elephants in the room and proactively discussing them. Retainify’s Crisis Communication Pulse Survey can help you assess and improve communication with your employees.


Analyze: The “HR Police”

“Better not let HR hear you say that.” Anyone who’s ever worked in a corporate setting has expressed a similar sentiment. The relationship HR has with the company’s employees is a reflection of the overall culture of its workforce. Relevant facts can help to separate the emotional element that naturally comes with receiving feedback. Instead of trying to figure out how to put a bandaid on the problem, it is important to take the time to truly understand the depth of the concern, who it will impact the most, and how to address it. Evidence-based decision making can remove the level of fear and demystify the situation for employees, reducing anxiety and providing hope for the future. 

“In this crisis, our clients have been forced to ask the question: How do you continue to build relationships as the nature of work changes and the nature of the HR role changes?,” Lau says. “There are many opportunities to make the use of data more impactful in crisis situations and leverage the power of data to drive decisions in a more human-centric way.”

Using surveys, pulse tools, and dashboards, can provide managers a lens into the health and well-being of their employees and their families. 


Act: Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis!

Choice overload can lead to analysis paralysis. When you cast a net out, and receive comments back from surveys, it can be overwhelming. In fact, once the amount of data reaches a person’s threshold, their brain’s ability to process starts to decline up to a point when the person ultimately becomes paralyzed to make a decision. Using technology to process the data can eliminate some of the decision-making layers and fatigue. As a first step, differentiate between decisions that require immediate attention versus decisions that you can make later. Use the data to break decisions into smaller steps. Instead of creating a blanketed approach to a perceived problem, can the data be used to isolate the problem. 

One of Retainfy’s clients, Ellis Don, a major construction and building services company headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, used Retainfy to automate and break down data to isolate specific gaps in their crisis-response. Using this data, they were able to identify geographical locations that required attention, and focus their resources on tackling the bigger issues.


Take care of your employees. Embrace a culture of transparency, compassion, and honesty to chart a new course to better your company and employee communications. It’s a ripple effect; your workforce will look back and remember acts of kindness and consideration.



Tech Undivided’s vision is to build an inclusive tech ecosystem that is not biased or divided by gender. By focusing on and supporting diverse and underrepresented women-led tech companies while working with women and allies, Tech Undivided removes unconscious bias faced by women and underrepresented persons. Tech Undivided is funded in part by the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Applications for the Tech Undivided Program are open until June 15, 2020. Learn more about the program or join our community now.

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