Employee engagement surveys, or an employee pulse survey, have been around for about 100 years now.
You might think they'd be outdated by now, but in actuality, they're still one of the best ways to accurately gauge employee sentiment.
Which means that in today's climate, companies that don't survey their employees are at risk of increased turnover, decreased morale, and more employee disengagement.
Get ahead of these company-killers by implementing an employee survey strategy. Here, we'll go over how to get started.
What is a Pulse Survey?
First, let's establish what a pulse survey is.
A pulse survey is a tool used to measure how employees feel about their work, their job satisfaction, and their commitment to the organization.
These surveys get their name due to the fact that they act as a way to keep a pulse on employee sentiment.
The word "pulse" also comes from their periodic cadence - typically every quarter, six months, or monthly, for example. This cadence helps to provide feedback and a benchmark for progress.
These short surveys usually include a few questions that touch on:
- Job satisfaction
- Engagement levels
- Top concerns
- Commitment to the organization
- Employee satisfaction
Pulse surveys can be administered in many different ways, but most today are conducted online through pulse survey software.
Additionally, some companies choose to make their employee surveys anonymous, while others allow employees to put their names on the survey.
Depending on the purpose of the survey, you may or may not choose to utilize anonymous surveys.
Pulse Surveys vs. Employee Engagement Surveys
Employee pulse surveys are a bit different than employee engagement surveys in a few ways.
- Pulse surveys tend to be shorter than employee engagement surveys. Fewer than 6 questions for pulse surveys versus 10 to 15 for engagement surveys.
- Because they're less in-depth, pulse surveys are conducted more frequently than employee engagement surveys. Typically quarterly versus an annual engagement survey.
- Pulse surveys also provide an immediate glimpse into the current climate at your company and can be targeted around specific initiatives.
How Pulse Surveys Impact Engagement
New research from Gallup found that nearly 85% of people are disengaged at work.
Determining why they are disengaged is what will ultimately help shift tides to make positive changes.
That's where employee surveys can help.
While employee pulse surveys have been around for decades, they've become increasingly popular in recent years. And it's no wonder why.
Pulse surveys provide valuable insights into how employees feel about their work.
When done right, pulse surveys can help organizations improve communication, boost engagement, increase job satisfaction, and increase productivity.
So much so, research shows that companies with a highly engaged team are 21% more productive and 22% more profitable than a disengaged team.
With only 15% of the workforce feeling engaged, improving team morale and engagement should be a priority amongst all business leaders.
And because employee disengagement impacts business performance, retention, and team culture, it's essential that companies address any issues that have an impact.
Why Use Pulse Surveys
While employee pulse surveys are designed to be shorter than an annual engagement survey, they still offer significant benefits for businesses. These benefits include:
Spotting red flags - Because these surveys are typically anonymous, employees tend to not hold back.
They'll let you know what problems are ongoing and what issues they're facing right now. This employee feedback allows leaders to take action immediately, before issues get worse.
Benchmarking - Pulse surveys naturally lend themselves to tracking. Depending on the software you use, the responses to your survey questions are captured and reported.
Over time, you'll be able to compare pulse survey data about things like job satisfaction, engagement, and commitment levels year over year.
Goodwill - Employees want to feel like their voices matter - and they should. Sending out pulse surveys shows employees that you care about their point of view.
Just be sure to use your survey responses to drive action. Otherwise, your efforts can come across as insincere.
Understanding the benefits of an employee pulse survey is only part of the equation, though.
You need to also be asking the right questions.
How to Design a Pulse Survey
Asking the right questions is key to getting useful and honest feedback back from your employees.
However, asking too many or too complicated questions can result in a lower response rate.
So, when crafting your pulse survey, there are a few key areas you'll want to focus on.
Define Your Purpose
Whether you're sending out the same set of questions in each survey or are changing it up every time, letting employees know your intentions is always a good idea.
A quick sentence introducing your survey can be enough to clarify the purpose of your pulse surveys.
Write Your Questions
Getting your questions right can make or break your survey. Here are a few tips to ensure you get it right.
Keep it short - Because your employees already have plenty to do, you want to avoid your survey feeling like a chore.
Keeping your pulse survey to 6 or fewer questions can help boost survey completion.
Open and Close-Ended - Include a mixture of open-ended and closed-ended questions.
Providing an optional spot for employees to elaborate on closed-ended questions can be a great way to get qualitative and quantitative data.
Likert Scale - Likert scale questions are close-ended, scale-based questions. Think: strongly agree to strongly disagree type of questions.Including these in your pulse survey are a great way to gather objective data.
Just be sure to include a neutral point in your scale so as to not skew your data one way or another.
Rethink Mandatory Questions - As tempting as it may be to make your questions mandatory, think twice before doing it.
Some respondents may genuinely not have an answer to some questions, so making them mandatory can skew your data or even deter participation all together.
Determine Your Cadence
It's important to determine the right pulse survey cadence for your goals and your team.
But this can be a delicate balance that's unique to your company's culture.
Send out surveys too rarely and you may not get relevant and timely employee feedback.
Send them out too frequently (or make them too long) and you risk survey fatigue.
And remember, only survey as frequently as you can act on the results.
Track Data and Take Action
Possibly the most important aspect of an employee pulse survey is the action that comes after.
This is because, another critical aspect to survey fatigue is inaction.
When nothing changes after repeated surveys, survey respondents begin to feel that filling out surveys is a waste of time.
It can even come across as performative or hypocritical to send surveys at all without any follow up initiatives.
So, when gathering employee feedback, use your pulse survey results to drive change.
Be sure to also communicate to your team how the results have changed over time (or been consistent).
Communicate what you plan to do with this information and how it will impact the team.
Employee Pulse Survey Example Questions
Once you're ready to write your pulse survey, it's time to come up with your questions.
Below, we've outlined some example pulse survey questions to help get you started.
- I am proud to work for [Company].
- I would recommend [Company] as a great place to work.
- I rarely think about looking for a new job.
- I see myself working here one year from now.
- I feel motivated to do my best work.
- My team leader is accessible.
- My team leader is approachable.
- My team leader communicates expectations clearly.
- I feel supported by my leader.
- I learn useful skills from my leader.
- I feel a sense of belonging at [Company].
- I enjoy my colleagues.
- I feel appreciated and/or valued.
- I feel empowered in my role.
- I feel safe to be myself at work.
- [Company] values diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- [Company] makes efforts to support minority or marginalized groups.
- [Company] has a diverse leadership team.
- People from diverse backgrounds have equal opportunities for advancement [Company].
- Inclusive practices are in place to accommodate diverse needs (e.g., religious observances, parental leave).
- I have the resources I need to do my job well.
- I have career growth opportunities at [Company].
- I'm able to balance my work life and my personal life.
- My role fits my strengths.
- The work I do is meaningful to me.
- Describe [Company's] culture in three words.
- What does [Company] do well?
- In what areas can [Company] improve?
- Is there anything we used to do that we should bring back?
- Is there anything we're currently doing that we should stop?
- What steps should be taken to promote inclusivity in the company?
- Is there anything we should include in our next pulse survey?
Start Building an Employee Pulse Survey Strategy Today
Building a thriving culture full of satisfied employees won’t happen overnight. But pulse surveys are a simple and effective place to start.
And if you’re looking for guidance along the way, Terryberry can help.
Terryberry provides solutions to help drive employee satisfaction through effective employee engagement. These solutions include:
- Pulse Survey Software: Be Heard is an employee engagement survey solution that's designed to enhance your employee experience while fueling business performance.
- Service Awards and Performance Awards: Recognize and reward employees based on years of service awards, anniversaries, or performance.
- Social Recognition: Empower your employees and managers to recognize their peers and celebrate successes with an easy-to-use social recognition application.
- Feedback and Communication: Unlock improved feedback and communications with employee and customer feedback solutions.
- Wellness Programs: We make it easy to run wellness programs and activity challenges that increase engagement, expand corporate health, and build team camaraderie.
Ready to learn more? Schedule a demo with our team to get a hands-on walkthrough of how Terryberry can transform the culture of your workplace.