If you’re writing a pulse survey for your team, it’s important to include the right questions.
Pulse surveys are meant to be quick, and are issued at more frequency than annual employee engagement surveys. Surveys that are too long or questions that are too complex defeat that purpose.
To help you get pulse surveys right, we’ve compiled some of the most useful information on creating great employee engagement surveys that meet your needs. We include how to write pulse surveys as well as some sample pulse survey questions.
An employee pulse survey is a short survey repeated on a regular basis. Pulse surveys may be issued weekly, monthly, quarterly, or on any regular schedule. The idea is that they take a quick “pulse check” on a participants’ sentiments about areas of interest.
In other words...
Pulse Survey Definition:
A pulse survey is a way to quickly get feedback on how employees feel about their job, workplace culture, values, career, and future success.
Many organizations use quick engagement surveys like these to gauge where customers find value in a product. Others use them to see how audiences feel about their brand.
It's similar to a net promoter score, except the survey offers more detailed results. In the case of an employee pulse survey, you're turning that same research process inward to help improve the working environment.
Pulse surveys also allow organizations to check in with employees more frequently than once a year. Instead of getting an annual snapshot of sentiment, these surveys make it possible to get a more nuanced idea of changes over time.
While it can be tempting to make employee pulse surveys anonymous for more unfiltered communication, the drawbacks of this decision outweigh the rewards.
Team leaders often think that employees will be more honest if the engagement survey is anonymous. However, as Lori Li at TinyPulse points out, anonymous surveys present problems with privacy, encourage employees to be more critical than helpful, and are impossible to follow up with employees about.
A better practice is to use pulse surveys that aren’t anonymous. This tends to result in more balanced responses, and makes it possible to follow up with employees in a one-on-one meeting to address any concerns and provide support for specific issues.
Pulse surveys give insight into employee engagement across an organization. Checking in regularly helps leaders understand how sentiments change over time. For example, reviewing survey results before and after a change in company policy or a major project can reveal a lot about what employees think about operations.
Good employee engagement surveys reveal employee discontent before it builds to unmanageable levels. This prevents a breakdown in operations due to high talent churn. Asking about employee feelings on company culture and work-life balance can reveal a lot about what it’s like to work for the organization.
Annual employee engagement surveys reveal major sentiment shifts year-to-year. Pulse surveys allow leaders to get a more granular view of short-term and long-term effects of their decisions. They’re very useful for tracking a few specific issues over time—just remember to use the same questions from survey to survey.
The goal of a pulse survey is to get useful information quickly. You’ll want to create a survey that can be completed in under five minutes. This usually means using 10-15 questions in your engagement survey that are easy to answer with just a click or checkmark.
Quick response question styles include:
Scale Questions. These ask respondents to rate things on a scale of 1-5, for example, or “never, sometimes, often, always”. The “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” scale is also quite popular, as SurveyMonkey demonstrates here:
Binary Questions. These include questions with yes/no, true/false, agree/disagree, or other two-option responses without the more nuanced rating system used above.
Multiple Choice Questions. When an issue at hand is less black and white, offering multiple choices to choose from helps employees quickly respond. Some multiple choice questions are also rating questions, but they don’t have to be. Here’s another example from SurveyMonkey:
Short Answer Questions. Using a text box or open space where employees can write a reply to an open-ended question or two reveals much more detailed information. However, be careful not to use too many short answer questions as they tend to take longer to answer and can make your pulse survey too long.
Because you’re taking a pulse check on employee engagement and sentiment, your questions should reflect that. Brainstorm what topics you’d like to know more about when it comes to how your team feels. Compensation, benefits, company culture, and work-life balance are common areas of interest.
Need some ideas to help you get started? Here are 10 sample pulse survey questions to ask your employees:
1. On a scale of 1-10, how valued do you feel by the organization’s leadership?
2. On a scale of 1-10, how empowered to you feel within your role to make decisions that are in the company’s best interest?
3. On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with the opportunities for professional development provided?
4. True or false: You feel like you have everything you need to complete your job duties.
5. True or false: You are proud to work for this organization.
6. True or false: You expect to be in the same position at this organization two years from today.
7. Agree or disagree: The company puts customers first.
8. Agree or disagree: The company provides ample opportunities for career development.
9. Agree or disagree: The company keeps employees well-informed about organizational goals and progress towards them.
10. Rank the following items from most important to least important to you:
Once you’ve written your pulse survey questions and issued a pulse survey, don’t stop there. It's time to look at the feedback you have gathered with an open mind.
Remember: the goal of an employee engagement survey is to help you understand the employee experience and satisfaction. This is not a performance review of management, and it is most productive to use the insights you gather from your survey responses to look at the workplace as a whole, as well as where you can support employees on a personal level.
Once the results are compiled, share the feedback with senior leaders in your business, and set up a meeting to discuss. You can use these meetings to start the process of implementing suggestions that employees shared with you.
Use our Quick Guide to 1-on-1 Meetings to check in with employees individually. This is a good time for each employee's manager to sit down and talk about their satisfaction at work, their career growth, and aspirations for the future. Use the insights from the survey to ask related questions to learn more about what that employee values, and solicit more direct feedback.
By showing concern for your employees’ feelings and respect for the feedback they shared with you as a leadership team, you can help them feel more comfortable giving honest answers, which will increase the level of engagement in surveys.
Don't just do an employee engagement survey once. Track your results over time. By collecting data at regular intervals, you can see trends and evaluate whether any changes you have made have had the desired effect.
Employee engagement surveys like pulse surveys are on the rise.
The sooner you begin to get feedback and utilize resources like this one, the better.
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