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How to retain your top talent using pulse surveys

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Retaining top talent should be a priority for all organisations. Replacing top talent can cost a business two to three times the outgoing worker’s annual salary. One resignation can also cascade into other departures. 

On the flipside, keeping talent leads to boosted productivity, a stronger culture, increased revenue and a better experience for customers and other employees. Gallup estimates that organisations with highly engaged employees enjoy 21% more profitability than others. 

Retaining employees comes down to keeping them engaged and satisfied. The problem is, employers don’t always have a clear insight into how their staff are feeling. 

Research by YouGov and The University of Melbourne reveals a third of workers under 54 are considering quitting their jobs. 

It’s now more important than ever for organisations to stay on top of employee sentiment and understand what’s going right, and wrong, during an employee’s workweek. 

Engagement surveys are a popular way for organisations to ascertain how employees are feeling. Employee feedback gained this way can help improve retention. The drawback is, engagement surveys usually happen once or twice a year. 

Pulse surveys, which are shorter and occur more frequently, supplement engagement surveys and help leaders gather consistent, real-time data about how employees are feeling. Pulse surveys are thus becoming a must-have tool for leading organisations. 

In this article, we deep-dive into pulse surveys explaining what they are, why they are important for retaining talent and how you can use them for best results. 

Xref branded graphic with text that says, "What are pulse surveys"

What are pulse surveys? 

Pulse surveys are short questionnaires of about 5 to 15 questions. They are designed to gauge how employees feel about their workplace and job role. Pulse surveys are designed to get rapid, real-time snapshots of employee sentiment across a team and organisation. 

Pulse surveys ask questions about things like communication, job satisfaction, the performance of leadership teams, relationships, and work environments.

By using pulse surveys, organisations can regularly keep track of employee sentiment and act on important feedback.  This data is invaluable when it comes to keeping a strong retention strategy. 

For example, a decrease in ratings on the work environment may indicate a need to review working styles and office layouts and amenities.

Xref branded graphic with text that says, "How can pulse surveys help improve retention? "

How can pulse surveys help improve retention? 

Every HR professional knows recognising employees and listening to feedback is the first step to a strong culture and retention strategy. Pulse surveys help teams gather feedback, provide insights for leadership teams and remind staff that management values what they think. 

Here’s a snapshot of how pulse surveys can help improve retention:

1. Real-time insights: Pulse surveys provide organisations with immediate access to valuable insights into their employees' experiences, opinions, and satisfaction levels. Engagement surveys aren’t frequent enough to capture changing dynamics within an organisation. Pulse surveys allow for continuous monitoring and adjustment.

2. Boosted employee engagement: Asking for feedback shows your organisation values employee input and cares about their well-being. Consistently pulsing shows a commitment to creating a positive work environment which can boost employee engagement.  

3. Red and green flags: Pulse surveys identify red flags or areas of improvement before they escalate into major problems. Identifying issues early helps in nipping problems in the bud and fosters a culture of transparency and trust. On the positive side, pulse surveys can also show organisations what they are doing right and where to keep directing resources. 

Overall, by taking the time to regularly understand what motivates and satisfies employees, organisations can create better strategies for talent retention. 

Xref branded graphic with text that says, "How to create a pulse survey"

How to create a pulse survey 

Below are 3 steps to setting up a pulse survey.

Step 1: Planning a pulse survey 

Every pulse survey is different. It all depends on what you want to track and measure. Identify the key topics you’d like to regularly receive feedback on and create a list of questions. 

Ideally, your organisation will already have a list of HR-approved questions about engagement and employee happiness that you can draw from. 

When you choose the questions to include in your pulse survey, ensure they align with your goals as an organisation. You want to generate data that is meaningful and actionable, which starts with clear intentions and questions. 

Step 2: Sending a pulse survey live 

Once you have a pulse survey created, make sure you announce it to your team or company. Let them know why you are running the survey and what you plan to do with the results. 

Pulse surveys should allow employees to provide feedback anonymously. Anonymity will encourage honesty and usually boosts participation. 

Step 3: Using the data received 

It’s best practice to share the results of your pulse survey. Transparency with employees helps create a culture of openness and trust. 

Release the results of your pulse survey and let employees know what you intend to do with the feedback. 

Acting on results is a crucial part of pulse surveys. If you don’t act on results, employees will be less likely to participate in future surveys and, the whole purpose of a pulse survey may be moot!

A great way to boost engagement is to compare pulse survey results and identify areas of improvement and areas that still need attention. 

Employees will be glad to see their feedback is leading to improved sentiments across the business. 

Comparing data is also invaluable for leadership teams who want to track progress toward goals.

Xref branded graphic with text that says, "Tips for implementing feedback from pulse surveys"

Tips for implementing feedback from pulse surveys

Acting on the feedback received from pulse surveys is so important we’ve dedicated a whole section to it.  

A huge part of high employee engagement and retention is making employees feel heard and cared for. This means, actioning feedback when it comes in and communicating openly.  

Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. 

So, how can you ensure you action the feedback received in pulse surveys? Here are our 5 top tips. 

1. Take pulse surveys seriously 

If you’re committed to running pulse surveys, then the data received should be taken seriously. Assign a person or team to review pulse surveys very soon after every intake. 

Make reviewing and actioning pulse survey feedback a top priority and work it into a regular cadence. 

For example, if you decide to run pulse surveys monthly you might plan it so employees always receive results one week later. 

2. Establish a timeline for actioning feedback 

Act promptly on the feedback received from your pulse surveys.  One of the most critical aspects of pulse surveys is asking employees how they feel but also acting on what you learn. 

Review survey results, identify patterns, and take concrete steps to address the concerns raised by employees. 

Regularly communicate the actions taken based on survey feedback to demonstrate that employee opinions are taken seriously.

It helps to agree on a timeframe for actioning feedback. For example, your leadership team may commit to act on feedback received from pulse surveys within two weeks. 

If action cannot be taken, employees should ideally receive communication as to why (in the right scenario, communication can be an action, in and of itself).

3. Communicate openly 

Open communication is a crucial part of any healthy work culture. When it comes to pulse surveys, be clear with employees from the start. Explain why you are running the survey and then be transparent with the results. 

If you receive negative feedback, be clear on how you plan to act on this feedback. 

For example, if survey feedback shows employees are unhappy with company direction, the leadership team can take the time to explain why certain strategic decisions are important. 

If feedback is positive, it’s important to share these wins also! 

4. Keep feedback anonymous 

Pulse surveys should ideally gather feedback anonymously. Not identifying respondents encourages more participation and honesty. Leadership should always strive to keep specific survey feedback private. 

It’s important not to zero in on a particular person, or team within your organisation. Even if you are simply curious about feedback and want to ask follow up questions, this type of laser attention may be counterproductive. 

It’s best to keep things anonymous and avoid singling people or groups out. 

5. Consider using technology

Leveraging technology can improve the efficiency of the pulse survey process in multiple ways.

For one, technology can automate the sending of pulse surveys and the collection of feedback. Without the need to manually distribute and receive surveys, HR time and resource spend is significantly reduced.

Also, survey data is stored in one place, making it easy for HR to uncover trends in the data and make informed decisions to drive change and improve employee engagement.

Using technology also makes it easy to comply with confidentiality, as employee data and survey feedback is stored securely.

Final thoughts 

Pulse surveys offer HR leaders an invaluable opportunity to keep in touch with employee sentiment. By soliciting regular feedback from employees, HR leaders can quickly gauge what’s working and where improvement is needed. 

Xref’s new product, Xref Pulse Surveys, automates the collection, measurement and analysis of honest employee feedback. Survey data is presented in easy-to-read graphs, meaning it is easy for HR to understand what employees like and dislike about the organisation. Armed with regular insight, HR teams can drive organisational change to improve employee engagement and retention.

To learn about Xref Pulse Surveys and how your organisation can benefit, book a demo today.

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