A pulse survey is a quick and straightforward way to gather regular employee feedback. We cover everything from sample questions to strategies to increase your employee engagement in the long-term.
What if you were on a sports team, and the coach only gave each player feedback on their performances once a season? It seems obvious that successful sports teams require constant communication between coaches and players, but the same principle can – and should – be applied to businesses.
What Exactly is a Pulse Survey?
Pulse surveys are short, concise surveys consisting of no more than five questions, specifically designed to encourage employees to provide helpful feedback on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. The questions are structured in a way that makes them easy to complete in less than ten minutes. When creating your own pulse survey, try to include a mixture of questions that are open-ended, and questions that can be answered on a 1-10 scale.
Here are some examples of questions that you would include in the survey:
On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend working at [your company’s name] to a friend?
Are there things you don’t know about the company that you feel you should know?
Was there anything that prevented you from doing your best work?
In recent years, pulse surveys have been steadily growing in popularity, and they are even used by some of the biggest companies in the world such as Apple, Amazon, and Airbnb to measure engagement levels amongst their teams. Therefore, it is crucial that small and medium-sized businesses understand that the usage of pulse surveys can lead to better company morale, higher levels of engagement, and large boosts in productivity.
Here’s more on how and why you should use pulse surveys.
What are the Benefits of Using Pulse Surveys?
Pulse surveys help increase employee engagement, which in turn has massive benefits for the company. After all, it’s been proven time and time again that employees who are more engaged are generally happier, more productive, and take less time off. They also often become more passionate and interested in their job, which goes a long way in fostering innovation at the office. Additionally, having a lot of employees who are engaged and satisfied with their jobs significantly lowers the risk of turnover for the company, which helps to maximise earnings.
Now, consider how much time and money is saved when you eliminate a small problem before it becomes a larger issue. Well, one of the many benefits of sending multiple surveys within a short time frame is that you can catch onto small problems at work quickly before they inevitably bloom into larger issues. So, while it is perfectly natural for companies to encounter their fair share of complications and drawbacks, know that you can significantly reduce the amount of sizable, systemic disputes in your organisation by consistently reviewing feedback that you receive on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
The integration of pulse surveys into your company also shows your employees that you intend to establish a culture of asking for employee feedback. This, in turn, creates happier employees, who understand that you care about what they have to say. The benefits of having a positive company culture cannot be overstated, and many employees cite negative company culture as a primary reason for leaving their job. In fact, research has shown that bad company culture costs British companies USD 26.7 billion annually, and over a third of British employees leave their jobs every year due to dissatisfaction with their company’s culture. It is important, therefore, to install a feedback loop in your company, as a means of letting your employees know that you truly value their opinions.
What Sort of Questions Should You Put on a Pulse Survey?
If you find that previous surveys in your workplace haven’t had high participation rates in the past, the reason could be that you failed to address any of the questions or concerns they posed in their previous survey answers, leaving many feeling like it’s simply a waste of time to answer the surveys at all.
The first step to avoiding this is to set about determining the goal of your company’s pulse survey and adjust the questions accordingly. For example, if you want to ask a question regarding potential changes to your company’s overtime policy, you should have the ability to actually change the policy to reflect the answers posited by your employees. In short, if your question isn’t actionable, don’t include it.
Furthermore, try to strike a balance between survey questions that validate something you are already quite sure of, and questions that could lead you to new insights. Sometimes you’ll find that your employees don’t necessarily share your opinions, and you should never assume that everyone agrees with you, as that defeats the point of the survey.
More examples of questions you could potentially include in the survey:
How happy are you at work?
How well aligned is the company with your career goals?
What part of the business would you like to see us improve?
What’s one thing we can do to improve our company culture?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your work-life balance?
Don’t necessarily seek to change the questions constantly; instead, try keeping the same set of questions for an extended period of time to see if the answers change. This way, you can see whether employees are noticing the changes you are attempting to make.
Should Your Pulse Survey be Anonymous?
Although you might be inclined to think that pulse surveys should be anonymous, there’s actually a strong case for making them identifiable. Establishing a corporate culture of asking for employee feedback is great, but you want to make sure that you’re engaging with your own staff at a personal level. Making the surveys identifiable will encourage more responses over time, as you can tailor your changes to be employee-centric, and not just general changes made at an aggregate level. This also helps you determine which parts of your company aren’t providing valuable feedback. For example, if you can see that more than half of the sales team did not respond to the survey, you can easily ask the head of sales to remind his/her employees to fill it out, rather than having to play a guessing game to determine who did and did not answer the survey.
However, this isn’t to say that all your surveys shouldn’t be anonymous; there’s a time and a place for anonymous surveys too. Anonymity allows employees to speak more openly about difficult issues, and provide opinions that they might not necessarily want to have their name attached to. It’s perfectly fine to use a survey-making service like SurveyMonkey to ask more in-depth, anonymous questions once per quarter. In fact, it’s probably best to use a combination of anonymous and identifiable surveys to ensure that certain grievances aren’t being unheard.
Similar to how pulse rate is an indicator of human health, a “pulse survey” is an indicator of a company’s health. Conducting frequent surveys of your employees will only serve to better your knowledge of them, as well as what you can do to improve their working lives. It can also help you tackle problems before they even form, and establish a positive feedback loop in your company that makes employees feel valued. After all, a team works better when everybody is on the same page.