Skip to content
Back to eduMe Blog
Creating Content

4 Best Practices to Improve Your Pulse Survey Response Rate

Pedro Da Costa Coutinho
Pedro Da Costa Coutinho

Pulse surveys are effective tools to check in, in a short and frequent manner, with your workforce, wherever they are. They engage the individual and let you know how, in a snapshot, your workforce are feeling as a whole so you can then identify and implement any changes you might want to.

Though an effective method for collecting feedback, creating surveys is redundant if you’re unable to get the insights from them you need, due to a low survey engagement rate. To get the most value out of your Pulse Surveys, and to glean anything meaningful, you will need a sizable response rate. 

So where do you go from here? What strategies can you employ to ensure your surveys aren’t going unnoticed and people are engaging at a satisfactory rate? 

What are the benefits of pulse surveys?

Before we get onto best practices to ensure higher employee survey participation, here are some ways in which pulse surveys have a slight competitive edge over annual engagement surveys, as well as principles they follow that will give you a natural headstart in this department.

Pulse surveys follow the ‘little, but often’ principle

When there are large gaps between feedback collection, peoples’ responses are distorted by “recency bias” - they are more likely to hone in on recent happenings than consider things in their more zoomed-out or objective entirety.

A distinguishing feature from the annual, or longer-form employee engagement survey, is that pulse surveys are more single topic-driven so provide a more flexible approach to understanding your workforce wherein a solution can be quickly acted upon.

Rather than relying on lengthy feedback on an array of topics infrequently, you can access feedback contextually and in increments, allowing you to implement continuous small changes, and fostering trust from workers in the process, by soliciting their input on how something is going, and how it could be improved. 

When this happens, workers are happier and more engaged - so much so they are  59% less likely to leave.

Pulse surveys are quick to create and easy to distribute

When it comes to feedback, not only should it be easy and convenient for your workers to respond, which communicates that you are keen to hear their input whilst being mindful of their time, but they should also be quick for you to create and deploy.

As pulse survey creation doesn’t require much upfront time, you are more likely to be able to deliver the surveys at the interval desired. And by being able to deploy these surveys with a regular cadence, expectation and anticipation are built in the recipient.

Ultimately, by simplifying and shortening the process from end to end, it makes regular feedback gathering an easier process to establish, and stick to - two key components when it comes to habit formation.

Pulse surveys can be qualitative or quantitative

Pulse surveys are an effective medium for organizations to collect feedback through quantitative and qualitative methods. 

By leveraging both formats, the responses received enable granular input to be fed back, reinforced through numerical and descriptive data, which allows businesses to make precise and informed decisions going forward that paint the full picture of what their workforce sentiment really is. 

An example of a quantitative survey question can be "On a scale from 1-5, how effective did you find our onboarding training?". These enable businesses to accurately audit their workforce sentiment on a specific topic, the results of which allow for emotions and attitudes to be quantified, tracked, and refined over time.

On the other hand, qualitative surveys focus more on thoughts and opinions. An example of qualitative surveys include “How do feel our driver safety course has enabled you to work safer?".  By leveraging open-ended questions that welcome descriptive feedback, businesses can dig deeper to try to unpack employees’ thoughts and reasoning.

4 Best Practices to Improve Your Pulse Survey Response Rate

1. Make it timely

The best way to seek information around a topic is shortly after it’s happened.  This fights against the forgetting curve, as the recollection of events are fresh and intact, which makes the quality of feedback more contextual, and their sentiment more accurate. 

90%of information is forgotten within 30 days, with 70% happening within a day, which highlights the importance of launching pulse surveys, in a timely manner, all the more valuable. Businesses can apply their primary data to inform on what’s working, and help you identify knowledge gaps and opportunities to further enrich your worker’s experience within your organization.

Perhaps you've changed the frequency with which you survey people. Instead of including a survey at the end of a training course, you have also started sending out standalone surveys, in order to get input on things unrelated to one specific training. You want to confirm that this works for your workforce, so you also send them a standalone survey about what they think about this change in process.

Contextual feedback such as this enables businesses to redefine their approach by personalizing it to yield the most productive outcomes.

2. Make it brief

How can you continuously measure the efficacy of something if you’re asking your workers for feedback all the time?

It’s easy to collect information for the sake of it. Instead of having an ‘ask everything now’ approach and jeopardizing your response rates due to information overload, narrow it down to make it clear and concise.

A survey’s response rate is likely to improve when the objectives are clearly defined and hyper-focused. You can do this by avoiding 'double-barreled' questions that group two related topics together, and turn them into a single subject question for a clearer, more focused response that drives completion rates by up to 70-80%.

Another good practice is to stick to one question per pulse survey. When you add multiple questions, and you’re not clear on the intentions behind them, your workers are less likely to reply and neither will they understand why they warrant you one if it isn’t concise nor straightforward. 

Asking questions like “In your opinion, what can we do to improve our customer service ratings?" fare better than having complex questions that can be interpreted differently and risk a lower response rate due to misunderstanding or confusion.

3. Let them know it’s anonymous

As humans we are more inclined to be honest and comfortable when we have a blanket of anonymity protecting our thoughts and opinions. Survey anonymity also promotes a higher employee participation rate, as a worker’s privacy is protected, allowing for more authentic responses when they’re free to express their opinions without the fear of repercussions.

Let’s take a look at employee satisfaction. People generally feel reluctant to provide honest and productive feedback regarding work-related initiatives they believe could be improved on. Particularly when you make that information traceable, you’ll likely get surface-level feedback. 

To get the most value out of surveys, you need to ensure your employees are given the freedom to articulate their genuine thoughts and the promise of anonymity of help to achieve that. It also helps you achieve as much as a 90%higher response rate.

4. Use the right pulse survey tool

In summary - though pulse surveys are built to promote higher engagement, there are further ways you can bump that engagement rate even further - by ensuring anonymity (and reinforcing this in your comms), keeping them to 1-2 questions, and making sure their delivery is as contextual and timely as can be. 

Another component that will bolster engagement rate is the tool you use. How user friendly is it, and does it allow you to distribute pulse surveys in the manner you need to?

With a wide selection to choose from SurveyMonkey, Typeform, and SurveySparrow, organizations should assess solutions based on need and map this against product capabilities to identify which might be best fit for purpose. 

eduMe’s embeddable training platform makes it quick and easy for users to roll out pulse surveys, contextually and at scale to your workforce. Our surveys can be deployed after lessons, or as standalones to capture your workforce sentiment on the things that matter to them.

To see pulse surveys in action on the eduMe platform, get in touch.