When it comes to overseeing employees, it is important to know how to get valuable feedback as this is vital to the health of any organization.
There are a number of conventional methods such as employee engagement surveys but in recent times, pulse surveys have risen steadily.
The best leaders are savvy to the power of the pulse survey, and know they are the key to unlocking higher employee participation. The average employee engagement survey only gets a 30-40% response rate, while pulse surveys enjoy an average response rate of 85%.
What exactly is a pulse survey?
A pulse survey is a brief and regular set of questions sent to employees.
As the term “pulse” suggests, it is carried out to continuously gain employees’ views on subjects such as job-related roles, communication and relationships, and the overall work environment.
So how do pulse surveys differ from annual employee engagement surveys?
For starters, pulse surveys are performed more regularly while annual employee engagement surveys happen once a year. Pulse surveys may be weekly, monthly or quarterly. They can be standalone or tied to specific learning material.
Pulse surveys tend to focus more on a specific topic or a set of closely related topics whereas annual employee engagement surveys may cover a wider range of subjects.
Partly due to the time that elapses before an annual employee engagement survey is done, they are usually much more extensive to cover a lot of subjects. Pulse surveys on the other hand are much shorter, with anywhere from 1 to 15 questions. The rule is - the more frequent the pulse, the shorter you should make it.
More chronological with greater continuity
Pulse surveys are also usually more chronological as they aim to determine the results of the changes enacted in response to discoveries made in a previous survey.
In the case of annual employee engagement surveys, questions asked may not necessarily follow a sequential order.
What makes pulse surveys so effective?
Brevity and frequency
One of the main reasons why pulse surveys work really well is that they are short. Employees usually have a considerable workload so it can be quite distracting if you bombard them with a lot of questions.
Many will participate in the survey with a “let me just get this over with” attitude. This means that you’re more likely to get surface answers that aren’t thoroughly thought out. Additionally, lengthy surveys can hamper productivity.
They’re hyper-focused and contextual
Pulse surveys also produce richer context for the evolution of any conditions. Since these surveys are performed frequently, an employer can gauge how certain aspects of the workplace are responding to change.
If for instance, a new technology solution is introduced into the work process after a complaint, you’ll be able to know how quickly it has an effect. This creates more room for team leaders to quickly experiment with different changes in cases where some aren’t working
The repetitive nature of pulse surveys also enables staff to focus on a specific topic.
They improve employee wellbeing
Another reason why pulse surveys are very effective is the fact that they make employees feel more cared for. If you focus on getting recurring feedback from staff, you may make fewer changes, but with nearly all of them resolving problems adequately.
An organization that is always making changes may not necessarily keep employees happy, especially if the changes are imposed on them with minimal input solicited.
They create a continuous feedback loop
Pulse surveys act as ‘temperature checks’ on your workforce, and gauge how recurring issues can be enacted on. As workforce needs are constantly changing (e.g. workers want more progression opportunities), businesses can leverage pulse surveys as an outlet for worker sentiment and lend them a voice to echo on areas that are important to them.
Doing so creates a continuous feedback loop, where your workers’ voices are heard, and their responses actioned - 90%of workers stick with their organization when their feedback comes into fruition.
They promote and champion active participation
Pulse surveys encourage active employee participation, and businesses can leverage survey champions to drive further engagement. This is a standalone person or team that acts as an internal resource to enable the creation, deployment, and interpretation of pulse surveys.
Their role might vary, but they can act as a facilitator between management and workers, helping to simplify the result-to-action process. Essentially, they go the extra mile in assisting with survey rollout, reinforcing teams on the value of completing it (e.g. how might a worker benefit from it), and even run internal workshops to action on the areas that need attention.
Smooth to administer, easy to act on
Pulse surveys also allow for an organization to make better use of digital technology since they can be sent to employees remotely over the internet using a cloud system.
This makes their administration smoother for everyone involved, be it the recipients of the survey or those dissecting the data generated.
They build company culture
These surveys also help to foster company culture and create more cohesion amongst employees. As employees continuously contribute to various topics together, they may start to bond over those topics during their own time. When employees interact with each other more, especially in an organic/non work-mandated way, they are more likely to be effective as a team when solving work-related problems.
In general, by executing such initiatives successfully, you provide value to employees, which increases your employer attractivity. And a strong employer brandattracts (58%) and retains (20%) top talent. By developing a strong employer brand, this will also incentivize more employee ambassadors who champion - loud and clear - the good things your organization does.
How can you get the most out of pulse surveys for your company?
1. Select questions to ask
This starts with identifying the major goal of the survey. For example, it could be to find out how employees are adjusting to a new merger or assimilation of an external team.
From there you can work out questions about workspace, distribution of office supplies etc.
2. Announce the survey
Here, the main objective is to let employees know when the survey will be taking place, how long it will last, and how they can participate. You can also shed a little more light on what you are trying to achieve with this survey.
3. Begin surveying
Distribute the survey at a convenient time using the most suitable method that ensures maximum participation.
4. Examine the responses
Create a simple system you can use to tally any quantitative data. Establish patterns in the results. Place more focus on the areas where employees say you’re falling short and pick out actionable insights.
5. Share results with the team
It is important to give the employees a general overview of your findings from the survey. Firstly, it creates more certainty on whether their message got through to you clearly.
It also helps you establish a starting point for your response which helps employees get an idea of what you’re going to try to rectify first.
Without a doubt, this is the most crucial part. While it may not be technically seen as part of the survey itself, it is a part of the survey journey since the pulse approach is continuous.
If you keep surveying without taking action, employees will feel like it's all just theatrics to deceive them into thinking that you care. It will most definitely decrease their morale.
7. Evaluate and repeat
Once you’ve taken an action, follow it up with a survey to measure its success. Keep what works and put it in rotation. Discard what doesn’t and try out other ways to solve any leftover problems.
Make sure you remain aware of the end goal and how close you’re getting to it.
Some things to consider when choosing a training tool through which you can easily distribute pulse surveys:
Their solution should be mobile-friendly.
Security is paramount (they should at the very least have an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate).
They should offer both anonymous answering and identifiable answering.
A solution that can be customized to accommodate varying question types and amounts is better for an organization. One-size-fits-all solutions can leave you a bit limited.
The interface must be user-friendly.
They should offer wholesome and straightforward reporting features.
The cost of a maximum-feature plan plus availability of other plans.
Additional features such as peer-to-peer recognition.
With pulse surveys now a critical part of the success of modern businesses, are you ready to deploy these in your business and experience the valuable feedback as well as an engaged and motivated workforce?
eduMe is a company that can quickly and easily roll out pulse surveys to your workforce alongside training and learning materials - all to the mobile phones of your people so they can complete it quickly and without hassle, boosting your feedback rates and allowing you to gather valuable insights. 👇