Online Retailer Leans on Employee Feedback to Inform its Return to Work Plan

Uncommon Goods gains valuable insights fast
from short, focused pulse survey.

When Uncommon Goods, a Brooklyn-based online and catalog specialty retailer, sitting at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, began considering how to transition back to the workplace, they knew they had to strike a delicate balance. How could they successfully comply with government restrictions, meet ongoing business demands, and continue to fulfill their commitment as a Founding B Corporation to consider all stakeholders, including employees and customers?

They turned to Energage for help. A leader in helping organizations connect with team members to make informed business-critical decisions, Energage has specialized in enabling organizations to gather and act on team member feedback for more than 14 years at over 60,000 organizations. With a unique combination of expertise in survey creation, proprietary knowledge of the critical culture drivers that shape team member-focused cultures, and a patented team member engagement platform, Uncommon Goods knew Energage could quickly deliver the right information to inform their return to work plans.

As leadership began its planning sessions, Uncommon Goods issued an Energage Pulse survey. Comprised of just seven questions and crafted in collaboration with Energage people scientists, the Return to Workplace pulse survey provided Uncommon Goods team members a fast, easy and anonymous way to share their honest feedback and true feelings around returning to the workplace. Issued to all 200 team members across the business, analysis of the results was presented to leadership within 24 hours of the survey closing.


Leadership wanted a quick, easy way to unearth team members’ true feelings about returning to the workplace before finalizing transition plans.


Energage Return to Workplace Transition Series Pulse Pack. Short, 7-statement, anonymous survey was created, issued and closed within 48 hours.


Analysis and recommended next steps were presented to leadership within 24 hours of survey close. Action plans and communications strategies were easily revised based on survey data, and employees were appreciative that their voices were heard and valued.

Surprising Results Strengthen Transition Plan

As leadership has had to manage complicated, competing priorities during this crisis, team members’ feelings on returning to work are equally complex. The combination of job function, commute logistics, caregiver responsibilities, personal health, and those of family members all play a role in team member sentiment.

The groups that expressed enthusiasm to return to work were somewhat unexpected, as was a difference in sentiment between the leadership team and managers. Also surprising were the percentages of team members who considered themselves as high-risk or were in close contact with a high-risk relative and those needing to work with HR before being able to return fully.

Team member comments also provided an additional layer of context around what would help team members feel more comfortable upon their return, including practical suggestions around safety measures that could be implemented.

Next Steps to Move Forward

“Our team members are our priority,” said Beth Rivera, head of human resources. “Hearing directly from them, in a safe, anonymous way, is extremely helpful as we finalize our return to work plans. Issuing this short, focused survey gave us tangible insights that we could incorporate into the plan or draw on to quickly pivot actions so team members feel heard and respected.”

As Uncommon Goods continues to navigate the return to work, these results will inform communication efforts, including what messages most need to be communicated to which groups. Once the plan is finalized and communicated, continuing to provide a safe channel for two-way communication is crucial. Then, as the transition continues, a check-in from the leadership team and managers to see how things are going and if team members are feeling safe, supported, and can maintain productivity will improve the chances of transition success.