Employee Pulse Survey Best Practices - theEMPLOYEEapp

Employee Pulse Survey Best Practices

Employee Pulse Survey Best Practices

Last updated on March 7, 2024 at 10:39 am

You can’t hope to improve the employee experience and employee engagement if you don’t regularly listen to your people. But traditional surveys and focus groups can take a lot of time and energy to do well. In this blog, we’ll talk about how an employee pulse survey can be a faster and even more effective way to collect employee feedback all year long.

So, if you’re eager to strengthen employee engagement and cultivate a workplace where every voice is heard, read on to uncover the secrets to mastering pulse surveys!

What Are Employee Pulse Surveys?

An employee pulse survey is a short questionnaire designed to gauge the sentiments, opinions, and feedback of employees on specific topics in real-time. Because they are short (1-5 questions), you can ask your employees to complete them far more frequently than traditional surveys.

A pulse survey typically consists of a few targeted questions that can be quickly answered, making it convenient for employees to participate regularly. These surveys are often administered through digital platforms, such as employee apps, email, and texting, where employees can easily access and respond to the questions at their convenience.

orange graphic with a person holding up their phone with a pulse survey on it. The words "online survey" are on the backdrop of the image.

Pulse Survey Example

Because a pulse survey tends to be very short, you have to narrow your focus. An example might be to learn more about employee wellbeing at your organization. If you’ve learned that this is an area of opportunity for your business, once you plan your strategy to try to improve wellbeing, you would want to use pulse surveys to learn if you are moving the needle.

This pulse survey might include the following questions:

  1. How would you rank your overall well-being? (1-5 with 1 being very poor wellbeing and 5 being very good wellbeing).
  2. How well do you feel your direct manager supports your wellbeing? (Likert scale from not at all to completely)
  3. How well do you feel the organization supports your wellbeing? (Likert scale from not at all to completely)

You would then share this survey at regular intervals (like every month) as you roll out your wellness initiatives to see if you begin to move the needle. And if you aren’t seeing improvements, this helps guide your focus groups and helps you learn why your efforts aren’t making the kind of impact you want.

Benefits of Pulse Surveys vs. Traditional Surveys

You might be thinking that pulse surveys are too limited to be worth your time. But there are many reasons why this type of survey might actually be superior to traditional surveys.

  • Real-time insights. Unlike traditional surveys that are often only performed once or twice a year, pulse surveys can be used much more frequently. This gives you a real-time snapshot of the particular topic you’re focusing on. And because these surveys are very short, it also cuts back on the time it takes to analyze the results and act on that data.
  • Increased employee participation. Employees, especially frontline workers, don’t have a lot of free time at work to be able to complete lengthy surveys. And annual employee engagement surveys tend to be some of the worst offenders. But pulse surveys should require less than 5 minutes to complete. Because the time commitment is much less, employees are more likely to complete your pulse surveys, giving you a more representative sample of voices within your workforce.
  • Agile. Traditional surveys often follow a set schedule. But pulse surveys are easier to incorporate into the communications campaign for initiatives across your company. This makes them much more flexible and easier to use.
  • Better employee experience. Not only is the experience of completing a pulse survey more pleasant for employees, more consistent feedback helps your company more consistently provide better experiences.

blue image with a speech bubble that says "survey" on it

Downsides of Employee Pulse Surveys

Although an employee pulse survey has many benefits, there are a few cons to look out for.

Like with any type of survey, survey fatigue can still happen. This is when you repeatedly ask employees to give you feedback and they see no action taken as a result. Because pulse surveys might be sent more often and repeatedly, it can be easy to forget to report on the results and trends and to let employees know how their feedback is being used. When employees feel overwhelmed by the constant influx of surveys without seeing tangible outcomes, they may become less willing to participate.

But pulse surveys are also limited in what they can tell you. The brevity of these surveys might not allow for a deep exploration of complex topics or issues. It will require you to do additional digging to learn more. We recommend a mix of interviews and focus groups to supplement what your pulse surveys tell you.

Finally, because pulse surveys are easy to put together, it can be tempting to send them too frequently or without as much thought and consideration as you would a longer survey. Make sure you carefully audit the questions you include, edit the copy so it’s easy to understand, and carefully consider how often you’re asking employees to provide feedback.


Top Pulse Survey Uses

Pulse surveys can be used for nearly every initiative because you can target them to impacted groups and easily share them. But some of the top uses for an employee pulse survey are:

  • To measure employee engagement levels. Often in addition to an annual engagement survey, pulse surveys can help you gauge fluctuations in engagement all year long.
  • To track wellbeing. These surveys can help monitor employee wellbeing and mental health. Asking questions related to stress levels, work-related pressure, and feelings of burnout can provide insights into how employees are coping and enable companies to implement support programs if needed.
  • To assess change management success. Getting employees to change takes time. Pulse surveys can help keep you and employees on track, especially as you try to reinforce changes more long term.
  • To improve internal communication. Communication preferences and effectiveness can really make or break how successful your communication strategy is. Using pulse surveys to measure the effectiveness of workplace communication can be key to solving many other work-related problems.

By leveraging pulse surveys in these various ways, you’ll gain valuable insights into your workforce, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and enhance overall employee satisfaction and engagement.

woman filling out an engagement pulse survey that's hanging on the wall of her office

5 Best Practices When Conducting an Employee Pulse Survey

Let’s now talk about honing your pulse survey skills. These best practices will ensure that you ask actionable surveys and maximize participation.

  1. Set clear goals. Before launching a pulse survey, you should define the specific objectives you want to achieve. If you don’t have clear goals, don’t send your survey yet. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve or learn, why are you surveying?
  2. Keep the surveys focused. Pulse surveys are meant to be brief and targeted. Limit the number of questions to the most critical ones that align with your objectives. This means focusing on one topic per pulse survey campaign.
  3. Stick to a manageable cadence. Conduct surveys frequently to capture real-time feedback and track trends over time. We recommend selecting a cadence that you can keep up with and that employees won’t be overwhelmed by (e.g. monthly or quarterly).
  4. Make them truly anonymous. Many employees roll their eyes when company’s say surveys are anonymous. Often there are so many identifying questions up front that make it very easy for a company to learn who is giving the feedback or it’s not actually anonymous at all. So, there’s already a lack of trust even if your company has never crossed that line. Pulse surveys are great because they strip away a lot of that demographic, identifying information away. But it’s up to you to ensure anonymity and build trust so you can collect honest feedback.
  5. Act on the feedback. The true value of pulse surveys lies in actually acting on them. Regularly share the survey results with employees and communicate the actions taken based on their feedback. This can be one of the best ways to prove that honest feedback leads to actual change and not disciplinary action.

Tools For Sharing Surveys With Employees

When it comes to conducting pulse surveys and ensuring maximum participation, theEMPLOYEEapp offers a comprehensive set of communication tools designed to engage the entire workforce and make survey sharing seamless:

  • Mobile app. With our mobile app, you can instantly reach all your employees, including frontline workers, remote teams, and those without access to a computer for work. Push notifications can be sent directly to employees’ smartphones, alerting them about new surveys and encouraging them to participate.
  • Intranet. Our employee intranet is another place you can share your pulse surveys and remind employees to complete them. It’s also a great place to share the results of surveys and show progress towards your goals.
  • Employee texting. For employees who prefer to receive information via text, our text messaging solution is an excellent option. Sending out survey invitations and reminders via text messages can increase response rates and facilitate employee engagement, especially for those on-the-go.

By leveraging theEMPLOYEEapp’s suite of internal comms channels, you can effectively distribute pulse surveys to your entire workforce, increasing participation rates and ensuring that no employee’s voice goes unheard.



About the Author

Sydney Lauro is the Demand Generation Manager for theEMPLOYEEapp. Prior to joining the team at theEMPLOYEEapp, Sydney worked in internal communications for Chipotle Mexican Grill. She uses her internal comms expertise and passion for improving communication and the employee experience to create content and share best practices to help other communications professionals.


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