This case study shows how even partially-digitalized government agencies can use data science to boost employee resilience and productivity amid chaos.

A certain government agency founded in 2001 was ‘partially digital’ when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. Almost overnight, it had to go fully digital in order to remain a viable public service.

One of the first points of action was reimagining how the organization could gather and make use of employee engagement data. Although the entire civil service already had an ongoing program for running an employee engagement survey every two years, this agency decided that more frequent checks on engagement levels were needed to identify the drivers of positive employee experience with more granularity.

Therefore, from January 2020, the agency leveraged a ‘people analytics platform’ Engagerocket, to conduct surveys and obtain real-time insights at crucial points of their employees’ journeys. This included the onboarding process for new joiners, and also the pandemic lockdown period to understand the changes in employee expectations and any emerging requirements that may need addressing.   

Three actions identified

The data gathered was analyzed and used to guide three important employee engagement policies:

  1. Investing in enhancing the mental health of employees 
    The public service’s data showed that one in five employees had felt stressed out during the country’s complete lockdown. This was reflected in the agency’s data as well, prompting it to invest in initiatives to improve the mental well-being of employees.

    The agency procured a dedicated counseling service that employees can call, email, or meet with face-to-face to ease the transition during the WFH period. Supervisors were also encouraged to go through a recognized training program to learn how to support mental well-being in the workplace. The aim was to create awareness and equip supervisors with the knowledge and skillset to help themselves and their team members.
  2. Starting a productivity fund
    Productivity was another pain point uncovered by analytics data at a national level, revealing that 36% of surveyed employees felt less productive when working from home. The agency was equipping employees with personal laptops and other essential work equipment, but with the help of analytics, decided to also introduce a productivity fund per employee to cover the additional expenses incurred by staff to set up their home office. More than anything, it was an indicator of organizational support for them.
  3. Launching a mental well-being campaign series 
    Singapore employees were surveyed and 95% were generally happy with communication during the pandemic. Throughout this period, the agency in this case study had conducted an active ongoing electronic direct mail campaign, rolling out useful information like how to cope during the circuit breaker and navigating the constantly changing policies and precautions in the country. Townhalls and meetings hosted by the senior management team were also conducted to keep staff updated on the pandemic situation, how it had impacted the work of the organization.

Human resource teams also rolled out well-being initiatives to help employees cope with WFH teething issues and any social issues arising from lack of personal contact with team members.