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What You Need To Know About Employee Pulse Surveys

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Understanding the thoughts and feelings of your employees is crucial to the well-being of every business.

But how do businesses go about gathering this feedback on a consistent basis?

Employee engagement has become one of the key focus points for business leaders. Most people are already familiar with engagement surveys, but pulse surveys are becoming an increasingly popular tool due to its myriad of benefits in relation to employee engagement and wellbeing.

So, let’s take a deep dive into everything you need to know about pulse surveys.


What is an Employee Pulse Survey?

In short, a pulse survey is a short set of questions that is sent to employees on a regular basis. They are a fast and frequent survey system.

As the word ‘pulse’ suggests, the survey is to provide a pulse check on important subjects such as communication, job satisfaction, job-related roles, leadership, relationships, and the work environment.

Pulse surveys are generally only 5-15 questions, easy to answer and don’t take up too much valuable time.

Typically, they are used at strategic intervals such as monthly or quarterly, which helps businesses gain quicker, more relevant feedback.


Employee Pulse Survey vs Engagement Surveys

An engagement survey is usually done annually at the conclusion of the year or financial year. Engagement Surveys provide businesses with a one-off, holistic snapshot.

Engagement surveys are usually longer in format with more detailed questions.

According to a recent article in Forbes, the average employee engagement survey only gets a 30-40% response rate, whereas pulse surveys average a supreme response rate of 85%.

But this isn’t a battle between employee pulse surveys and engagement surveys. Both options should work hand-in-hand.

An annual engagement survey should give you a starting point for all the pulse surveys that follow. Pulse surveys should be viewed as strategic methods to complement the overarching engagement survey. Pulse surveys allow businesses to track the progress of the feedback derived from the annual engagement survey.


What are the benefits of an Employee Pulse Survey?

Whilst there are definitely benefits to using engagement surveys,  most companies, unfortunately, use them to simply ‘tick a box’, and there is sometimes no action taken from the results of the survey.

Furthermore, checking in on your staff only once a year is not good enough. With pulse surveys, you can regularly keep track of issues, employee morale and rectify any concerns before it’s too late.

The benefits include:

  • Increased employee engagement: Engaged employees are often more happy, motivated, and productive.  
  • More relevant and timely feedback: The high frequency of pulse surveys means that businesses can gain a quicker understanding of issues in the workplace, rather than waiting until the end of the year.
  • Gain meaningful data: Regular pulse surveys allows organisations to understand what motivates their workforce and enable managers to track the data to ensure improvements are being made, or how employees are adapting to change.
  • Quick completion time: The short and simple nature of pulse surveys entails that they’re easy for staff to complete and that the results can be actioned in a timely fashion.
  • Higher response rates: This conciseness and simplicity results in a higher response rate than the often-lengthy engagement survey.
  • Specification: Pulse surveys can often hone in on a particular topic that might be highly contextual, for example how employees have adapted to new technology that has been introduced.
  • Reminds staff that management values their opinions: Regular pulse surveys convey that management cares about what their employees have to say and that their input is valued in decision making.
  • Boost morale and employee wellbeing: Pulse surveys can make staff feel more cared for, which ultimately lifts morale and increases retention.
  • Company culture: The promotion of open communication can help foster positive company culture, create cohesion amongst employees and management and enhance brand reputation.


What does a good Employee Pulse Survey look like?

As each pulse survey is different, there is no set list of questions, but they should all be properly planned and structured.

Pulse surveys require an investment of time from a company’s employees, it’s essential to only focus on asking things that are relevant, and important to your organisation.

  • Define the goal: Outline what you want the pulse survey to achieve. This is important as these check-ins can go in a multitude of directions. Ask yourself exactly what information you want to discover?
  • Select the right questions: Carefully craft the questions so that they align with the goal you want to achieve. The data you collect must be meaningful and not vague.
  • Determine the appropriate length: The length of the survey depends on the overall objective; if the goal potentially has a quick turnaround, not many questions are needed. However, if it is a potentially large goal at hand, more questions may be required.
  • Announce the survey: The survey shouldn’t shock your employees. Announce in your internal communications streams so that your employees can prepare their thoughts.
  • Start the survey: Distribute the survey at a convenient time and through an appropriate medium that ensures maximum participation.
  • Analyse the responses: Once the outlined time period has expired, review the responses, and analyse any data trends or patterns.
  • Share the results: Employees should be privy to the results of the survey. This provides transparency to staff and helps explain the impending action that may need to be taken.
  • Act on the results: It is important to take any necessary action that is derived from the feedback. Don’t waste your employees time, otherwise, they may not be as willing to participate in future surveys.
  • Review and compare: Don’t discard the data from a pulse survey. Store the data effectively so that you can compare it to future surveys to measure improvement.

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