Employee Pulse Survey

Employee pulse survey defined

An employee pulse survey is frequently used in companies to measure employee engagement and satisfaction. These quick, regular surveys featuring a small number of questions provide real-time insights into the workforce, allowing management to make informed decisions about improving the work environment. This employee feedback method helps to foster open and up-to-date communication, encouraging a more efficient and productive workplace. The biggest advantage is that these surveys capture a nearly real-time snapshot of employee views on specific topics that HR teams are interested in.

What are the advantages of pulse surveys?

Pulse surveys offer numerous benefits to organizations. They provide real-time feedback, which allows managers to address issues promptly. The frequency of these surveys keeps employees engaged and gives them a voice in the organization’s operations and strategies. Moreover, they add a dimension in being able to track trends over time, allowing organizations to make more informed business decisions affecting employee culture. Overall, pulse surveys enhance employee satisfaction and business productivity.

Common uses of pulse surveys

While hard to get right, employee pulse surveys offer an oftentimes superior alternative to the annual employee engagement survey that, according to Gartner, approximately 74% of organizations deploy. After all, Qualtrics reports that 77% of employees want to provide feedback more than once per year, and a majority would provide quarterly feedback to their employers.

Employee pulse survey questions

Key questions in an employee pulse survey

There are certain tips that enable creating impactful and effective pulse surveys for your organization. HR teams need to ask questions that elicit measurable and insightful responses – that is, questions ought to be designed with the intent to create an actionable plan. Ideally, questions should reveal something about the state of employee engagement. Responses should shed insight into what’s working, what’s not, and create space for employees to offer suggestions for improvement. After that, harness the power of regular feedback and open communication to foster a positive and productive work environment.

Types of survey questions you should be asking your employees

There are three main types of questions that give information HR teams are often most interested in.

  • Driver questions: Also known as actionable questions, these questions help determine your employees’ main drivers for the issues you care about, including company practices, culture, or behaviors. This can be measured through the use of sentiment scales, such as a Likert Scale, to easily capture how your employees feel about the issues you want to gather more data on. The goal of driver questions is identifying potential actions and solutions for future plans to be enacted.
  • Outcome questions: These questions are often used after your team starts an initiative, and are used to measure trends or the impact of an initiative over time. Good ways to phrase these questions include using scales – such as a 1-5 Likert Scale – to see how strong the opinion someone has is.
  • Open-text questions: Also known as open-ended questions, these questions allow for employees to explain themselves in more detail by providing the opportunity for them to write their own responses. While these give you deeper and more valuable insights, open-ended questions are harder to analyze in aggregate, as well as potentially causing survey fatigue.

3 tips for more effective employee survey questions

  1. Keep it short and snappy. While single question surveys are best, the longest surveys should be no longer than 10 to 15 questions. Short surveys are often correlated with higher response rates, as well as yielding results that are easier to analyze.
  2. Ask relevant questions. While some issues you are surveying about may cross over into other areas, it’s important to stay focused towards your specific goal. Your pulse survey questions should address the main issue within your company culture you are trying to learn more about.
  3. Focus on actionable questions. Make sure that answers to your questions have potential action plans. Survey fatigue often sets in when employees don’t see changes in response. This puts your ability to gather future data at risk, as participation rates can quickly drop when no visible action happens post-survey.

Top three pulse survey queries for gathering employee input

Driver questions:

  1. I feel like my company offers growth opportunities.
  2. My work gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  3. This organization strives to maintain a safe work environment.

Outcome questions:

  1. I feel like my company allows for workplace flexibility.
  2. I have the same resources at home as in the office.
  3. I have been informed on the new [initiative].

Open-text questions:

  1. Are there specific areas of your position you need assistance with?
  2. What do we need to improve in order to retain our top talent?
  3. If you were to write a new core value for the organization what would it be?

How long should a pulse survey be?

Pulse surveys are meant to be brief in order to gather quick feedback. They typically consist of 5-15 questions and should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. The length of the survey heavily depends on its purpose and the type of data needed, as well as how frequently pulse surveys are taken.

How frequent should pulse surveys be?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how frequently surveys should happen. However, the frequency of administrating a pulse survey should directly correspond to its length – longer surveys should occur less frequently. Furthermore, there are two additional questions teams should ask:

  1. How frequently does the business need to see results from the surveys?
  2. How quickly can the business respond to the results?

You should make sure that surveys are only taken when there is an ability to create change. Every item in your employee pulse surveys should contribute to your goal in some way, and that you can create an action plan based on survey responses.

Implementing an employee pulse survey

How do I conduct an employee pulse survey?

When selecting a platform that enables an efficient distribution of pulse surveys, you should bear in mind certain key aspects:

The most efficient way to administer an employee pulse survey is via an online tool. Data from these online surveys is immediate, reliable, and cost effective. The pulse survey may be sent individually to every employee’s email or posted on a modern intranet via an announcement.

During this announcement, it’s a good opportunity to remind employees why their feedback is important – ideally, this would encourage more honest and high quality responses. Other tactics, such as reminding them and following up on actionable steps further increases engagement, encouraging better response rates.

Once a survey has been distributed, the responses start coming in. When that happens, data will need to be “cleaned,” which involves a process of weeding out viable responses from junk responses. These junk responses may include duplicate entries or contradictions. Duplicate entries tend to not be too common in employee pulse surveys; however, contradictions do occur on occasion. Contradictions mostly include instances where a respondent completely contradicts themselves from one question to another, making their true sentiment unknown. Oftentimes, it means they’re not paying close attention or rushing through the survey.

Finally, once the survey has been completed, it’s important to express gratitude to your employees and thank them for completing the pulse survey questions. There are various ways to improve participation rates, including offering incentives to managers for having their organization complete it, or by providing a general recognition via your internal communications tools or intranet.

The basic steps of conducting an online pulse survey from within Simpplr is outlined in our pulse survey guide.

Interpreting and acting on survey results

Measuring employee engagement

Remember that the main goal of employee pulse surveys is tracking metrics and attitudes concerning the employee experience, especially in response to actions from the business. You may want to evaluate other metrics such as participation rates too, to ensure that you are capturing a comprehensive view of the organization rather than only a select few. If only a small minority is filling out your survey, it’s important to incentivize completion to get a full and accurate picture of your company culture. This also provides an opportunity to investigate whether there are deeper issues that need to be addressed, as engaged employees are happy to fill out surveys and will usually do so promptly.

Improve employee engagement with a modern intranet

Creating action plans from survey findings

Using survey results to boost employee engagement

After gathering your pulse survey data, it is important to demonstrate to your employees that their feedback was taken into consideration. The best course of action is to take a proactive approach by setting clear objectives and developing actionable strategies. Find the stakeholders in your organizations’ teams with the authority to enact change, and assign responsibilities, establish timelines, and regularly evaluate progress to ensure implementation of meaningful changes.

Feedback doesn’t always look positive – after all, changes often occur after ideas are offered and issues are raised. Embrace negative feedback as an opportunity for growth. Address the concerns raised by employees, communicate plans for improvement, and involve them in the process to show that their input is valued.

When you were writing your pulse survey questions, there were probably a few important issues that you wanted more data on. After collecting this data, group questions into certain categories to address themes holistically. This enables better employee listening to quickly identify the areas where you may want to focus more attention on in developing programs to improve the employee experience. Having a platform with an insights dashboard – combined with periodic pulse surveys – can make spotting these trends much easier and allow for tracking the impact of your programs over time.

Examples of effective action steps

Action steps are important in promoting continued and sustainable employee engagement. These could be as simple as creating a regularly scheduled update from leadership, or perhaps creating a diversity program

Impact of pulse surveys on company culture

Survey findings may include understanding what is important to your employees, how satisfied they are with those factors, and what factors can lead to higher employee loyalty to the organization. Finally, pulse surveys measure how your organization stacks up against its peers through benchmark studies and metrics.

How Simpplr can help

Uncover insights and data from polls, pulse surveys and conventional surveys, Sentiment Check, Awareness Check, as well as everyday employee interactions. Learn more about Simpplr’s Employee Listening AI insights.

Employee listening beyond the survey