Grace Smith
November 3, 2023

Connecting with Your Team: The Power of Employee Pulse Surveys

In today's fast-paced business environment, for a company to thrive, connecting with employees is more important than ever. How are companies doing this? One of the most effective ways to do this is to use an employee pulse survey. Here is a guide that takes a closer look at what an employee pulse survey is.

But why is an employee pulse survey important?

How can it benefit your organization?

Simply put, an employee pulse survey is a short survey, repeated regularly, designed to measure the overall mood and engagement of all employees. Unlike traditional employee surveys, which are typically conducted once or twice a year, employee pulse surveys are sent out on a more regular basis, usually every week or month.  The main purpose of the employee pulse survey is to provide employers with a quick and easy way to collect employee feedback, identify potential problems or concerns, and take steps to resolve them. By regularly reaching out to your employees and gathering their feedback, you can stay ahead of potential issues and ensure your team stays engaged, motivated, and productive. 

“64% of organizations only measure employee engagement annually while nearly one in five employees report that their companies don’t formally measure engagement at all”

What is a staff pulse survey in short?

The Employee Pulse Survey is a short, quick, and simple survey that is sent to employees at regular intervals. This survey essentially serves as a record to take the pulse of employees - to gauge their satisfaction, task completion, communication, relationships, and work environment. It aims to identify sore spots and improve the overall work atmosphere in the company. 

These surveys are usually only 5-15 questions long, so they take very less time and are very easy to answer. They are useful because direct feedback from employees can help you decide which areas need improvement and inform periodic initiatives to improve  your organization's engagement and satisfaction, which results in higher employee productivity.

The term "pulse" refers to the rapid and repetitive nature of these surveys, as they aim to measure the temperature of the organization at regular intervals. Pulse surveys can be conducted weekly, monthly, or quarterly, depending on the needs of the organization and the objectives of the survey. 

Pulse survey questions can be open-ended or multiple-choice, and can cover a range of topics related to the employee's experience. Common topics include job satisfaction, leadership, communication, work culture, and career growth opportunities. 

Data collected from pulse surveys are often used to identify areas for improvement within an organization and develop strategies to address these issues. By regularly gathering feedback from employees, organizations can quickly identify trends and address issues before they become bigger problems. 

One of the advantages of pulse surveys is that they can be administered quickly and easily with online survey tools, making them an effective way to gather employee feedback. The short and repetitive nature of pulse surveys also makes them more manageable for employees, who may be more responsive to a short survey than a long one.

What are the benefits of pulse testing?

Pulse surveys are popular not just because they are shorter and reduce the time taken to collect employee feedback, but also because they add a new dimension to performance analysis: time tracking. While the annual engagement survey is a once-a-year review of employee engagement, pulses allow you to track items monthly or quarterly so you can: 

  •  Check-in (and respond) regularly 
  •  Plot trends over time 
  •  Begin to link improvements to activities 

Pulse studies are also brighter than traditional, rarely used research methods. Asking for feedback once a year means that it is incredibly difficult to monitor the progress of action plans, and it is tricky to measure the input and align it with business results. With Pulse, employees can provide feedback more often and organizations can respond to feedback faster. Some research shows that employees want  more regular feedback: 

 77% of employees want to give feedback more than once a year 

 Most employees would like to give feedback four times a year

What are the benefits of collecting employee feedback using pulse surveys?

This article provides a summary of the many advantages of employee pulse surveys over annual employee surveys. Here are the benefits of employee pulse surveys in a few brief points: 

  • Pulse surveys provide real-time insights into employee engagement so you can quickly and accurately understand your organization and company culture 
  • Often less than 10 questions are required, which makes them easier and faster  to complete 
  • They are relatively free from bias because of immediate and better contextualization that connects the current situations of employees to the wider environment. 
  • They encourage co-commenting and dialogue and tap into the wisdom of the crowd to inform company goals and policies
  • They help deliver actionable insights quickly and efficiently with real, meaningful answers

Creating an effective pulse survey 

Every employee survey should have a clear purpose, and this goes for a  pulse survey as well. Pulse exams are usually shorter (5-15 questions) than regular employee surveys. In general, the purpose of employee pulse surveys is to:  

  • Track engagement levels and the causes behind high or low engagement 
  • Understand if action plans are working so you can make changes quickly 
  • Demonstrate the importance of  employee feedback to the organization 

By including key engagement questions in your pulse surveys, you can track engagement levels and understand what drives engagement. 

Use action-oriented questions to understand if employees are able to see results based on their previous survey participation. For example, you can collect levels of agreement for the prompt "I saw positive changes  based on our previous research results." 

Building a pulse survey in this way provides a reliable and repeatable measure of engagement to compile overall trends and comprehend the effectiveness of action plans. There are some tools that makes this more effective and streamlined. Employee success tools like ThriveSparrow is designed to redefine the way you conduct Employee Pulse Surveys. With ThriveSparrow's cutting-edge tools and features, you can effortlessly gather valuable feedback by creating pulse surveys in minutes, measure employee engagement levels, and identify areas for improvement.

Screenshot of question banks in ThriveSparrow's Engage module

Elevate your organization's pulse survey experience and gain the actionable insights you need to nurture a happier, more engaged workforce. Sign up now for early access!

Things to consider before you use an employee pulse survey

1. Fluctuations

How much will your measurements vary? An employee's mood can change frequently, so you can measure daily, or perhaps more than once a day. However, if you measure employee engagement and the reasons behind it fairly regularly, the levels are unlikely to change too frequently, and daily or weekly measurements are meaningless.

2. Absorption and transmission of results

An employee survey sets the expectation that managers will use the results to take action. Failure to do so creates disengagement among employees and is a sure way to reduce response rates for surveys in the future,

How often can your organization respond to survey results? You should be prepared to review each set of results and try to understand them. When considering the appropriate cadence for each survey, think about how you can process and use the results. 

3. Time to implement action plans

Actions may not follow each pulse check, as a pulse check of the effectiveness of previous action plans may indicate that no further actions are necessary., Yet, it is important to plan possible actions after each pulse check. At a minimum, the company must consider time to evaluate, communicate and decide on actions.

4. Cadence of other organizational metrics

Some organizations work quarterly, some monthly, and others revolve around an annual meeting. When planning a pulse, ask why the company needs this information. 

If you are simply presenting information to the board at the annual meeting, a pulse may not be the right mechanism and you may opt for an annual engagement survey.

However, if you report monthly, you may want to adjust the cadence to provide fresh data each time and refresh the board with improvements. We found that quarter to be a popular interval because most organizations already report quarterly Quarterly surveys are preferred because:

  • They leave sufficient time to review the information collected and take action
  • They allow the surveys to be slightly longer, allowing more topics to be included

Sample pulse exam questions

Let's now use the "Employee Experience and Engagement" survey as example of pulse survey questions. This form asks respondents to indicate on a scale of 1-5 how much they agree with the following statements, where 1 is almost/always disagree and 5 is almost/always agree:

I feel like I belong at work.

I feel a deep connection to my work. 

Most days I leave work with a sense of accomplishment. 

I feel good about my work experience. 

I feel energetic at work. 

I have strong bonds with my colleagues. 

People are doing a lot of good work here. 

I think about the mission of the company in everything I do. 

I am free to manage most of my work life. 

Individual humanity is celebrated here. 

I can express my creativity in my creations. 

I appreciate working with the people I do. 

I would recommend this company to a colleague or friend. 

I plan to work for this company for the next 12 months.

I am constantly doing extra work at work.

Wrapping up...

A good workplace is one where employees feel valued and cared for. Organizational characteristics directly affect employee engagement. Exposing your company's problems can help you create a rewarding employee experience. At the same time, excessive feedback collection has its drawbacks. Survey fatigue is a leading cause of low survey responses. To address this issue, annual employee pulse surveys are the best solution for gathering feedback.

The effectiveness of pulse testing has led several companies to adopt it in their workplaces. Employee pulse surveys can support multiple work departments and shape company culture, so they are the best way to measure engagement levels. Measuring engagement with a traditional survey can be time-consuming and expensive. So the next time you need relevant employee feedback, use the Employee Pulse Survey.