Employee Engagement

Why Your Company Should Be Doing Pulse Surveys and How to Do Them Right

September 26, 2019
November 7, 2023
Adam Rosenfield
Lattice Team

HR prides itself on being the heartbeat of an organization, but it only gets harder to keep your finger on how happy your employees are as your company grows, particularly as it grows rapidly. 

As your company expands and business goals evolve, keeping your employees engaged is key. With a 2017 study claiming disengaged employees cost their organizations $450-$550 billion dollars, it’s in your best interest to understand how to keep employees feeling invested and performing their best. 

Many organizations employ annual or semi-annual employee engagement surveys to get a better understanding of company pain points, concerns, and overall needs for their employees. While engagement surveys give you a great initial gauge of how all your employees feel, companies need a way to act on engagement data in real time so employees feel like they’re being heard. To bridge those gaps between bigger surveys, you should send frequent Pulses to to your employees. These short, usually 1-to-5-question surveys allow you to get a more continuous picture of the effectiveness of your employee engagement strategies. Here are three reasons why your organization should be doing pulse surveys, and how to roll them out effectively.

Get more frequent tracking of your engagement initiatives over time.

For most organizations, engagement tracking comes only once or twice a year in the form of a long-form survey. With Gallup reporting that only 34% of workers are engaged in the workplace, HR is left struggling to find ways to address and bring up this percentage. Pulse surveys can be administered as often as needed — month over month, bi-weekly,or even every week. While annual engagement surveys can sometimes take up to 60 minutes, these surveys take no longer than 60 seconds, and can give you a consistent insight into the progress of your specific initiatives. 

A great example of the effectiveness of a pulse survey would be if employees felt like they didn’t get recognition for their work, and HR rolled out an initiative to encourage public praise via technology like Lattice’s Feedback or Praise Wall products. After just a few weeks, you could start learning via pulse surveys whether you were moving the needle towards employees feeling more recognized within the organization. 

This frequent tracking and analysis of data through Pulse can enable leadership to link certain improvements to actions taken.

Show employees their feedback is valued in an organization.

Deloitte research shows that employees value culture over compensation and benefits, and value a listening-based culture. Implementing or changing initiatives in an organization as a result of employee feedback on a pulse survey can result in higher engagement levels for employees, which a 2016 Korn Ferry study says can boost revenue up to 2.5 times. 

Pulse surveys can help you dig deep and find the motivational triggers of the company and gauge the overall mood over time or through organizational change. Armed with these motivators, leadership can put in plans to work on the overall mood of the company in order to effectively manage change. 

Targeted questions should focus on drivers that relate to employee happiness and motivation at work, opinions on leadership, support, and even open-ended questions that can be cause for discussion on engagement initiatives or uncover issues you might not have realized existed. Some great questions include:

  • I am enthusiastic about my job.
  • When I get up in the morning, I look forward to goingto work.
  • I talk up this company to my friends as a great company to work for.
  • I am proud to tell others that I am part of this company.
  • I trust the decisions of the senior leadership in the company.

Incorporating these questions regularly will show that you’re paying attention to these key indicators and you’ll be able to connect their responses to changes in initiatives and priorities. These Pulses can then underscore the importance of a feedback loop  and continue to empower your employees, and may even turn an initial negative response to an initiative into a positive one. 

Tips for Doing Pulse Surveys Correctly

1. Start with buy-in from executives.

Getting company-wide commitment to your employee engagement strategy really begins at the top, so getting executive-team buy-in and having them be active, public participants in all your engagement initiatives — including pulse surveys — will help adoption rates. Kick off your full engagement push by partnering with leadership on the rollout, and then make them the public face for making improvements as you learn from the results of pulse surveys.

2. Only survey if you’re going to act.

If you fail to act on recommendations you receive from employee feedback, or fail to piece together trends and make an actionable plan, you’ll see lower participation and even skepticism from your employees. After building the buy-in from leadership on creating and implementing, determine which initiatives you’re going to focus and act on. Be sure to communicate learnings and action plans frequently so your employees are encouraged to continue providing honest feedback. On the other hand, employees will be discouraged if they see their feedback is not leading to meaningful action or change.

3.Be intentional about what you ask.

As pulse surveys help measure specific reactions to various initiatives, it is important that you are focusing on the right questions in your pulse surveys. There may be questions you ask in an annual engagement survey that you may not ask in a pulse survey. Pinpointed questions could be informed by themes you observed in your annual engagement survey , as you may be looking to improve certain parts of a process or improve manager effectiveness. Asking too many questions in a pulse survey may not enable you to get the results you need for successful, focused action.

4.Explain how the survey fits in the overall picture.

Your engagement strategy will likely not appear to be obvious to all of your employees.. As HR, it’s your job to develop a strong communication plan to convey the importance of each survey. With this strategy, you should give clear reasons why continuous employee feedback is critical to making meaningful change. It would be wise to partner with managers and leadership in this instance, as their influence within their departments and teams can benefit participation. 

Pulse surveys can benefit the company overall

While a longer deep-dive survey is a great start to understanding employee engagement, continuous feedback is key to obtaining a full picture of your company culture. By creating a consistent feedback channel, you’ll enable yourself to drive meaningful impact through data-driven and real-time action.

Want to know more about Pulse Surveys and how they can help with your engagement strategy? Download our ebook How to Use Real-Time Engagement to Build a Winning Culture.