Thumbs up or thumbs down? Smiley emoticon or red-faced angry emoticon? A steady stream of chatter between coworkers or a heads down, headphones on workforce? How can you gauge the level of professional and personal satisfaction in your employees? You’ve got the annual or bi-annual engagement survey doled out at the end of each year which sheds some light on the goings-ons in your employees’ heads. But 365 days is a whole lot of time for situations to change, circumstances to evolve, personalities to bump.
This is when you turn to pulse surveys, a more casual version of that annual survey which can be completed with just a few clicks. Pulse surveys seek to answer one thing and one thing only: How happy do you feel at work?
What is a Pulse Survey?
Companies utilize engagement surveys to understand how their workforce is doing, professionally and personally, by measuring levels of satisfaction using employee engagement software. However, these review surveys are often only distributed once a year, which means that any actions that address that feedback may very well no longer be necessary or be based on outdated information. Additionally, employee issues that arise in between surveys cannot be addressed or fixed because there’s no way for employees to express those issues.
Pulse surveys, on the other hand, are short and sweet online forms that range between one and five questions that are sent out regularly for employees to respond to. These cloud-based tools — administered either in-house, with a survey platform or by a third-party research company — are intentionally designed to be distributed on a frequent schedule: weekly at minimum and monthly at maximum. One result of pulse surveys is the improvement of any problematic areas because survey results can provide actionable insights into opportunities for management and HR.
These surveys are named “pulse” because they give quick insight into the health of a company. The health of a company depends on team sentiment and positive employee engagement program ideas. Pulse surveys, according to Forbes, transform “an annual HR measure into a continuous, holistic part of an entire business strategy.”
How can Companies Best Utilize Pulse Surveys?
- Near real-time measure of employee engagement and satisfaction
- Improved company culture
- Provision of powerful, motivating insights
- Analysis of company improvements over time
- Encouragement of open communication
No matter how short and quick the pulse survey, employees will still spend a bit of time responding to questions regarding company culture and processes. Therefore, the results of the survey can’t linger around, with no follow-up or acknowledge of the employee’s feedback. Employee engagement platform Quantum Workplace advised “With pulse surveys, you’re starting a conversation with employees, and employees expect a response. … pulse surveys are a great tool to dig deeper for follow-up, collect information related to specific organizational change, or simply keep your finger on the pulse more often.”
Pulse surveys are most effective when used in conjunction with larger initiatives. Like other kinds of feedback platforms, pulse surveys themselves can’t solve problems or improve performance or cause change. What they can do is bring attention to work-related issues and topics so that a company can take steps to foster a productive and supportive company culture. After all, at their core, pulse surveys are goal-oriented.
They can also encourage employee engagement, despite the option for employees to answer pulse surveys anonymously. How? When employees feel like they are being heard and their concerns are being noted, then they will feel more comfortable and satisfied at work. It’s easy for employees to fall into a rut of complacency and passivity, especially if they feel like just a number in a faceless workforce. In turn, engaged employees will be more motivated to open up communication lines, feel empowered to actively search for greater responsibilities, participate in out-of-office activities, clarify expectations, and be more productive in general.