What are employee pulse surveys?

Do you want to know what an employee pulse survey is or how to put together an effective pulse survey? In this blog post, we explain what employee pulse surveys are, their benefits, potential downsides, and we provide guidance on formulating effective employee pulse survey questions.

What are employee pulse surveys?

Employee Pulse Surveys are short, frequent questionnaires designed to gauge the opinions, attitudes, and feelings of employees within an organisation.

Unlike traditional annual employee surveys, pulse surveys are conducted more regularly. They aim to capture the ongoing “pulse” of the workforce, providing management with up-to-date and actionable insights into the employee experience.

Employee pulse surveys can also be used to gather more detailed information about specific topics that may have been highlighted in an employee engagement survey. They can also be used to gather feedback from specific groups of employees rather than the whole organisation.

What are the benefits of employee pulse surveys?

Employee pulse surveys are great for capturing real-time insights

Pulse surveys offer a snapshot of the current employee mood, allowing management to address issues promptly and proactively.

Employee pulse surveys are great for building employee engagement

By involving employees in the feedback process, they feel valued and heard, leading to increased engagement and motivation.

Employee pulse surveys are great for identifying ‘pain points

Regular pulse surveys can reveal recurring challenges or concerns, enabling management to devise targeted solutions.

Employee pulse surveys are great for data-driven decision making

Evidence-based decision-making becomes possible with the wealth of data gathered through pulse surveys.

Employee pulse surveys are great for driving cultural improvements

Understanding the organisational culture helps in promoting a positive work environment that aligns with employee expectations.

Employee pulse surveys are great for improving retention and recruitment

Satisfied employees are more likely to stay, and a positive work culture can attract top talent.

What are the potential downsides of employee pulse surveys?

Whilst employee pulse surveys have numerous advantages, it’s essential to be aware of potential downsides:

Employee pulse surveys can create survey fatigue

Frequent surveying might lead to survey fatigue. Basically, employees grow tired of forever taking part in surveys, which can have a negative impact on participation rate and data accuracy.

Employee pulse surveys can create anonymity concerns

Despite assurances of anonymity, employees may hesitate to share candid feedback, fearing repercussions. Although this can, of course, happen with any kind of employee experience survey.

Employee pulse surveys can be quite limited in scope

Pulse surveys tend to be more concise than a full engagement survey. Whilst this can be one of the benefits of a pulse survey, it can also limit the feedback gathered on wider issues.

When should you use an employee pulse survey?

Employee Pulse Surveys can be used strategically at different points throughout the year to gather timely feedback and insights. They can also be used at different stages of the employee lifecycle or employee journey.

Employee pulse surveys are useful for gathering feedback from new employees

Conducting a pulse survey shortly after new employees join the organisation will help to gauge their initial experiences, identify potential issues with onboarding processes, and make necessary improvements.

Employee pulse surveys are useful for evaluating the impact of organisational changes

Following significant changes such as mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, or leadership transitions, pulse surveys can assess employee sentiment, concerns, and adaptation to the changes.

Employee pulse surveys are useful for quarterly check-ins

Regular pulse surveys allow organisations to monitor employee satisfaction, engagement, and well-being over time. These frequent check-ins help track trends and identify emerging issues promptly.

Employee pulse surveys are useful for informing the content of your main employee engagement survey

Using a pulse survey ahead of the annual employee survey will allow you to identify potential issues early, enabling more targeted and in-depth questioning during the annual survey.

Employee pulse surveys are useful for gathering more detail following the main employee engagement survey

Conversely, your employee survey may indicate some specific issues that require further investigation. A targeted pulse survey will allow you to gather more detailed and specific feedback about the particular issue(s).

Employee pulse surveys are useful for evaluating training or development programs

After conducting training or development initiatives, pulse surveys can assess the effectiveness of the programs and gather feedback for improvement.

Employee pulse surveys are useful for evaluating the progress of critical projects

For organisations involved in time-bound projects or initiatives, pulse surveys can help monitor the project’s impact on employee workload, stress levels, and overall satisfaction.

What is the difference between an employee pulse survey and an employee engagement survey?

The main difference between a pulse survey and an employee survey lies in their frequency, scope, and depth of questioning.

Both types of surveys serve the purpose of gathering feedback from employees, but they differ in their approach and objectives.

What should your employee pulse survey measure?

Designing an effective pulse survey takes some careful thought. In brief, the main things you should consider are:

What is the purpose of your pulse survey?

Employee pulse surveys can have one of four different objectives.

employee pulse surveys

What are the main themes your pulse survey needs to measure?

For example, if you are using the pulse survey to gather more specific detail around an issue such as communication, the all of your pulse survey questions may just focus on that one theme. If you are using your pulse survey to evaluate progress against actions that have been implemented then this will guide the themes in your pulse survey.

The themes you may wish to measure in your pulse survey will depend to a large extent on the purpose of your survey.

In the absence of a clear objective for your pulse survey then our own model of employee experience will help provide a guide around key themes to measure in your employee pulse survey.

employee pulse surveys

What are some example questions to use in an employee pulse survey?

The first thing to consider when defining your pulse survey questions is the types of employee survey questions you may want to use as different types of questions will enable you to analyse your survey data in different ways.

While the specific pulse survey questions used by companies may vary depending on their unique goals and organisational culture, here are 20 commonly used pulse survey questions covering various aspects of the employee experience:

1. Overall Satisfaction: How satisfied are you with your current role and responsibilities?

2. Job Engagement: How engaged do you feel with your work and the company’s mission?

3. Managerial Support: Do you feel your immediate supervisor provides adequate support and feedback?

4. Work-Life Balance: Does your workload allow for a healthy work-life balance?

5. Team Collaboration: How effective is communication and collaboration within your team?

6. Organisational Communication: Are you satisfied with the frequency and transparency of internal communications?

7. Career Growth and Development: Do you feel the company invests in your professional growth and development?

8. Diversity and Inclusion: Do you believe the company fosters a diverse and inclusive work environment?

9. Recognition and Rewards: Do you feel adequately recognised and appreciated for your contributions?

10. Wellbeing: Are you aware of and engaged in the company’s wellness programs?

11. Feedback Mechanism: How comfortable do you feel providing feedback to your manager?

12. Workplace Safety: Do you feel safe and supported in your workplace?

13. Job Clarity: Do you have a clear understanding of your job responsibilities and expectations?

14. Teamwork: How well do you feel your team collaborates to achieve common goals?

15. Communication with Managers: Do you receive regular and constructive feedback from your managers?

16. Company Culture:How would you describe the company’s culture in three words?

17. Decision-Making Process: Do you feel your opinion is considered in the decision-making process?

18. Work Environment: How comfortable and conducive is your physical work environment?

19. Job Stress: How often do you feel stressed in your role?

20. Employee Advocacy: How likely are you to recommend the organisation as a great place to work?

What should you do with your employee pulse survey results?

Running a pulse survey is just the first step in the process of gathering feedback from employees. To make the most of the survey results and drive positive change within the organisation, companies can take various actions, including:

Analyse your pulse survey results thoroughly

There are several ways we suggest you can analyse your pulse survey data to identify trends, patterns, and areas of concern.

Share your pulse survey results

Being transparent with employees by sharing the survey results and key findings is a powerful way to demonstrate openness and signal that feedback from employees was valued. We recommend you communicate a summary of the survey findings and ideally what actions will be taken based on the feedback received.

Address immediate concerns

If your pulse survey reveals urgent issues or concerns, we recommend prioritising and addressing them promptly. Showing employees that their feedback is valued and taken seriously is a powerful way to build engagement. It also encourages employees to participate in future surveys as they feel that their feedback is taken seriously.

Involve employees in defining actions and solutions

We recommend that you include employees in the process of finding solutions to identified problems. Focus groups are a powerful way to encourage open discussion and gather further input from teams to foster a sense of ownership and engagement in the improvement process.

Recognise and celebrate success

Acknowledging areas where the company is doing well and celebrating successes with the employees is a great way to boost morale and engagement.

Define action plans

Your pulse survey should point towards specific changes that could be made to improve satisfaction and engagement. We recommend you create actionable and measurable plans to address the identified issues. Assign responsibilities, set timelines, and establish clear objectives to track progress.

Implement changes

Executing your action plans is critical if you are to build credibility in the process. You should ensure that the changes are implemented consistently and effectively across the organisation. Ironically, not implementing change following a pulse survey is actually worse than not running the survey in the first place!

Evaluate the impact of change

After implementing changes, we recommend you measure the impact of those changes on employee engagement, satisfaction, and overall performance. The best way to do this is actually through further pulse surveys. You should view your employee pulse surveys as part of an ongoing process rather than a one-time event. Further pulse surveys will enable you to monitor progress, gather fresh insights, and continue improving the work environment.

Integrate survey feedback into decision-making

We recommend you encourage leaders to consider employee feedback when making strategic decisions. Inclusion of employee perspectives in decision-making fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.

By taking these actions, companies can demonstrate their commitment to creating a supportive and engaging workplace and foster a culture of continuous improvement based on the feedback received from their employees.

In conclusion

Employee Pulse Surveys serve as an essential feedback mechanism to gauge employee sentiments and identify areas for improvement in real-time. By consistently capturing employee sentiments, businesses can proactively address concerns, boost engagement, and improve overall productivity.

However, it’s crucial to design surveys thoughtfully, balance survey frequency, and ensure employee anonymity to yield valuable insights. Remember, the data collected from pulse surveys is only as valuable as the actions taken in response to it, making it an integral part of a continuous improvement cycle.