What are Pulse Surveys
Pulse Surveys are a quick and straightforward way to gather anonymous employee feedback.
No more long, dull surveys filled out once a year. Modern companies prefer an updated solution. Pulse surveys are short, easy, and even fun to fill out. A typical cadence is five questions sent every week, so employees only need to answer one question per day.
When employees fill out one long survey per year, it may not always reflect their true satisfaction levels. As a result, Pulse Surveys are considered a more robust way to gather accurate information. The ongoing nature of Pulse Surveys enables managers to take a more precise “pulse” of employee well-being.
Put your time and resources in the right place
Employee unhappiness strongly affects business. When satisfaction is low, productivity suffers. And if solutions aren't put in place, disengagement and turnover are just a step away.
For example, a 2019 survey showed that a third of employees who quit their jobs did so because they didn't learn new skills or better performance.
Another 2019 employee study showed that employees often quit because of three key reasons: Poor communication, management, and office environment.
What do all these things have in common? They are under the organization’s control.
But employees aren't always ready and willing to voice their opinions. It's vital to offer a "safe space" where employees can speak their minds anonymously. As a result, organizations can get to the bottom of the issue and come up with solutions.
Surveys results allow leaders to uncover the precise source of the problem. More targeted solutions can be applied as a result. In short, your time and resources are put in the right place.
That said, many workplace experts agree on the value of employee surveys. The head of People Analytics at Facebook, Scott Judd, co-wrote an insightful article about employee surveys.
Employee Surveys Are Still One of the Best Ways to Measure Engagement, argues employee surveys remain a critical "high-performance" HR practice. In short, they should not be abandoned in the modern workplace.
Why yearly surveys are a thing of the past
Employee engagement is always shifting, just like your general happiness levels. It ebbs and flows in the same employee throughout their tenure in your company.
Given the fluid nature of engagement, it simply can’t be measured once a year with a long, dull survey. This approach yields weak results.
Although surveys are a critical HR practice and produce many benefits for companies, one tricky problem remains. Traditional corporate survey methods often result in low participation and response rates.
Businesses make the employee survey process time-consuming and dull. They also fail to communicate the benefits to their workforce.
As a result, completing surveys becomes an inconvenient task for employees. Employees then rush through filling out surveys, skipping over entire questions—distorting the resulting data and insights.
In short: Long, complicated surveys sent once a year are a thing of the past.
Methods of communication and gathering feedback should be modernized to fit the 2020 workplace.
Benefits of using Pulse Surveys
Pulse Surveys are quickly becoming the favoured alternative to the yearly employee survey. The key benefits stand out:
- A more accurate measure of employee engagement
- Managers get real-time results and can quickly adapt policies and practices
- Easy and fun to answer (high response rates!)
- Gives your employees a voice
- An excellent vehicle for change
Pulse surveys sample questions and examples
What do you like about your job?
You can probably list a few things that make you happy and satisfied at work.
In other words, many areas of the work environment contribute to employee happiness.
So if the goal of surveying employees is to measure satisfaction accurately, you must examine all areas of employee engagement.
As such, Pulse Survey questions are designed to measure sentiment regarding a variety of workplace topics.
At Applauz, we have developed our list of the fundamental drivers of employee engagement.
- Employee Sentiment
- Career Growth
- Diversity & Belonging
- Wellness & Balance
- Recognition & Rewards
- Mission & Purpose
- Goals & Alignment
- Autonomy & Empowerment
- Benefits & Compensation
- Team & Communication
- Safety & Security
- Work & Performance
Here are some examples of questions for a few key topics.
These questions are answered on a sliding scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Or with a simple “yes,” “no,” and “maybe” response.
Diversity & Belonging
- Our organization values diverse opinions and ideas.
- Do your coworkers treat each other with respect?
- My manager shows me the same respect he shows my teammates.
Recognition & Rewards
- Receiving recognition from my manager and my peers motivates me.
- Has your manager given you any recognition in the past month?
- The last time you successfully accomplished a project, did you receive any recognition?
Autonomy & Empowerment
- I generally feel challenged at work.
- Do you feel responsible for your team’s performance?
- I would perform better if I were given more autonomy.
Organizing questions by topic allows managers to pinpoint exactly which area of your workplace needs improvement.
As a result, surveying employees should shed light on employee pain points. And also help identify the root cause of common HR issues, such as employee turnover.
Pulse Survey Best Practices
Use a Pulse Survey tool
If your budget allows, shop for a third party Pulse Survey tool. These days, you can outsource the work of building Pulse Surveys affordably.
The benefit: These tools take care of most of the work of creating and administering anonymous surveys.
Expert-driven questions are pre-set to measure critical areas of engagement. These tools also offer detailed reporting features. In short, the program builds dashboards and interprets the data, so areas of improvement are quickly identified for you.
Have a clear goal in regards to what you’re measuring
Many businesses send out surveys to go through the motions. They know it’s a critical practice. But there is no clear goal in mind.
Don’t send surveys just to “go through the motions.” Whether you outsource the work or build a survey in-house, you always need to have a clear goal.
For example, are you trying to investigate a complicated HR issue like high turnover? Or are you simply trying to get a general sense of employee satisfaction? Or maybe you specifically want feedback about a new policy?
Ultimately, the goal of the survey will inform the questions you ask. So be sure to articulate a clear goal before you start to build a survey.
Take the “pulse” of many workplace topics
Suppose your goal is to take the general pulse of employee satisfaction. In that case, it’s important to design questions to measure many areas of employee engagement.
For instance, if you only asked questions related to management, you might only receive an incomplete view of employee dissatisfaction. What about all the other areas of the workplace that are important to engagement? For example, challenge, mission, purpose, goals, autonomy, diversity, etc.
Promote Pulse Surveys to your workforce
This seems like a no-brainer, but many businesses fail to promote and position their survey efforts. As a result, employees may forget to fill out surveys or generally feel less inclined to complete them.
The solution: Explain to employees why responding to the survey will benefit them and their teams. It's about cultivating a greater culture where employees are given a voice and heard. Appeal to their interests. Let them know this survey's ultimate purpose is to improve the employee experience.
Share results and announce next steps
Employees are likely to be curious about the survey results. It’s also reassuring to know that other employees are experiencing the same pain points as them. As such, make sure the HR team shares the most important survey findings regularly.
Also, it’s crucial to highlight which issue you will be prioritizing. For example, your results might show employee recognition is lacking. As such, you should notify your workforce the HR team will prioritize the launch of an employee recognition program.
Follow through with action
This is the final and most important step: following through on your promises.
If you are sending surveys but doing nothing with it, this can be worse than not asking. Simply put, your survey efforts will ultimately be futile if action is not taken to fix them.
Taking action also creates a positive feedback loop. When employees acknowledge leaders are taking action on their feedback, they will be more eager to respond to future surveys. Survey results will only become more honest and accurate.
How Pulse Surveys Improve Employee Engagement
You might be wondering how surveys can impact engagement levels. There are a few key reasons why surveys are an essential component of managing workplace engagement.
Pulse Surveys are a diagnostic tool
When you are sick, a doctor will typically run tests before choosing the correct treatment. Without running tests first, the doctor risks applying the incorrect medication.
The same process occurs within organizations. When a workplace culture is “sick” (i.e., low employee engagement and morale), smart businesses must run tests to understand the underlying problem. Employee surveys are a test that helps leaders uncover workplace issues, so the proper treatment and solutions can be applied. As a result, engagement issues are treated more quickly and effectively.
On the other hand, some businesses don’t focus on investigation and jump straight to treatment, for example, by buying into short-term fixes like ping pong tables and free snacks. As a result, they will likely miss the root of the problem. Naturally, employee unhappiness will continue.
Prioritizing surveys give employees a voice
All people desire to feel seen and heard. When people don't feel seen and heard in their relationships (including the relationship with their employer), this can give rise to frustration. Chronically feeling unheard makes people feel helpless and disempowerment. It's only a matter of time before employees feel disengaged.
A 2020 study asked remote employees how they wish to be recognized. One of the top responses: "Ask us how we feel and what we need." How simple!
Surveys are not a cure-all for disengagement. However, when HR teams prioritize employee feedback, it demonstrates to your workforce, with action, that the organization is prioritizing their satisfaction and happiness. This feeling will work to mitigate feelings of disengagement.
Employee Surveys for Remote Teams
We are currently living in an era where working from home is quickly becoming the norm for professionals who perform knowledge-based work.
According to Buffer's 2020 State of Remote Work Report, 98% of respondents said they would like to continue working remotely for the rest of their careers.
Although work is shifting to a distributed model, this doesn't mean employers should retire employee survey efforts. In fact, during the transition period into remote work, it's even more important to be in touch with employee's well-being.
Why surveys are important for remote workers
- Dissatisfaction can fly under the radar in a remote setting: When managers are in the same office as their employees, it is easier to assess morale. Body language, tone of voice, and general enthusiasm are easy to detect when you are sitting face-to-face with someone for 40-hours a week. Simply put, it’s easy to tell if someone is “off” from their normal baseline. In contrast, this is much more difficult in a remote work setting.
- Transitions can be challenging: Transitioning into a completely new style of working can be difficult for some employees. A change in environment can recharge some people, but it can be a source of stress for others. Surveys allow managers and leaders to understand where employees are having a difficult time adjusting.
- Prioritize company culture: One of the biggest challenges in running a remote organization is maintaining company culture. Prioritizing surveys and giving employees a voice helps leaders understand where the remote culture is falling short. When employees are isolated in their home offices, it’s easy to forget that they are part of a larger team. Sending out surveys is a reminder that they belong to a larger organization. And, more importantly, one that is striving to prioritize their well-being.
Pulse Surveys serve to identify areas of improvement quickly. As a result, the organization's resources and time are directed to the right places.
Also, there's no need to waste hours making sense of the raw data. Pulse Survey tools distill results into clean, easy-to-read reports and dashboards, eliminating all the guesswork.
Ultimately, Pulse Surveys have modernized the long, tiring yearly employee surveys. With the help of a Pulse Survey tool, HR managers have more time to focus on the initiatives that genuinely matter.