Check the Health of Your Company With Pulse Surveys

March 29, 2017

Pulse surveys are the latest hot topic in human resources. This fast, efficient survey type allows HR pros to “check the pulse” of a company as a whole by collecting feedback from each individual employee.

In this article, we’ll cover what pulse surveys are, why your human resources department will love them, what makes them different from other HR surveys, and how to implement them easily and effectively in your company.

Let’s get started.

What Are HR Pulse Surveys?

Pulse surveys are short, quick-to-complete surveys that are sent out by human resources departments on a regular basis. These surveys aren’t meant to cover all aspects of employee engagement or happiness. Instead, they are targeted based on what topics are important in that given moment.

In this section, we break down what sets this survey type apart from others you may be more familiar with.

Make it Snappy: Quicker Pulse Surveys Are Better

Clocking in with a completion time of five minutes or less, think of pulse surveys as a quick touch rather than a deep dive into an employee’s day.

They’re the quick, desk-side check in of the survey world, rather than an hour long meeting. Just like a check in, pulse surveys should cover one topic and one topic only.

Topics to consider include:

  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee work environment
  • Employee safety
  • Customer service
  • Team dynamics
  • Culture
  • Goal attainment
  • Resource needs/availability
  • Feedback collecting during business change
  • Bandwidth and time management
  • Suggestion box

Check Often: Get the Most Value With Frequent Pulse Surveys

Unlike annual reviews, pulse surveys don’t have to cover the same topics every single time you survey your company. In fact, it’s best to vary topics according to what it pertinent to your employees at that particular time.

While there will always be topics that you want to check in on regularly, but being too repetitive could lead to survey fatigue and less accurate data being collected over time. By varying topics based on what is happening in the company, you reduce fatigue, improve response rates, and ensure that employees remain engaged with the surveys for the long haul.

This is important because pulse surveys are best used for the long haul. By checking in with your employees frequently, your human resources department can keep a finger on the pulse of the company as a whole. For larger companies, in particular, pulse surveys are a valuable tool to keep HR informed on what employees need or want in order to do their jobs better and more happily.

In general, organizations see the most ROI when pulse surveys are administered as frequently as weekly or as infrequently as once a month. Any more often than once a week, and employees start getting annoyed. Any less frequently than monthly, and you’re not really getting an accurate measure of what’s happening in your company.

Many companies find the most success when they use pulse surveys once a week. We recommend this frequency.

If that seems like a lot, remember that topics are varied every week. This week, you could measure satisfaction with management. Next week, you could ask which perks employees are taking advantage of and whether they are aware of some of the other benefits you offer.

Pulse surveys are infinitely flexible.

Using Pulse Surveys to Track Office Trends

Even though you’re covering different topics and asking different questions every week, with a full-service survey platform, pulse surveys can be used to track long-term trends.

Perhaps your company is doing a lot of office renovations and reorganization this year, and you want to keep track of feedback on the work environment. This way, you’ll be able to identify areas of improvement, see what is working for the team, and ensuring that the improvements really are improving the office environment.

To track trends like this, you could send out the same work environment-focused pulse survey every few weeks. By re-using surveys you’ve already created, you’ll be able to track these changes over time without fatiguing your audience. (Not to mention it saves you time every week!)

Seeing is Believing: Pulse Surveys are Easy to Visualize

Another big benefit of the pulse survey system is the ability to easily and quickly report on the results.

Longer, more involved surveys (like 360 reviews) include so much raw data that they can be time-consuming to wade read, digest, and understand. Not to mention the added challenge of making that data understandable to people who don’t spend a lot of time in surveys.

Because pulse surveys are so short and focused on a single topic, they are very easy to report on. Alchemer’s built-in data visualization reporting updates automatically and in near real-time based on responses. Your reports will be generated automatically!

Alchemer’s reports are designed to be presentation-ready right out of the box, but they are also entirely customizable. It’s easy to take the extra minute to adjust colors and labels in accordance with your company’s branding. (No code or design experience required.)

These reports can then be easily shared with the entire company, so every person knows how their responses stack up compared to the company as a whole.

We’ll get into why sharing reports with survey participants is so important in a later section.

Why Should My Company Choose Pulse Surveys?

Fortunately, pulse surveys are increasing in populating across industries, and because of this, their benefits are becoming more and more easy to identify and quantify.

According to Gallup, only 17% of workers strongly agree that there’s open communication throughout all levels of their company. When the vast majority of employees feel disconnected from their co-workers, managers, and leadership, there are more opportunities to encounter pain points that never get the attention they need.

Better, faster, more efficient communication allows leadership and human resources to react to pain points before they become full-blown problems.

There are plenty of additional benefits to pulse surveys when implemented correctly. Too many, in fact, to cover in a short blog post.

Possible benefits of pulse surveys include:

  • Increasing employee engagement and job satisfaction (more on this in the next section)
  • Improve company culture
  • Call attention to topical or timely subjects
  • Strengthen lines of communication between employees
  • Better understanding of how company changes impact employees
  • Identify, diagnose, and treat pain points before they get out of hand

Increasing Employee Engagement and Job Satisfaction With Pulse Surveys

A big one is increasing employee engagement and satisfaction. When employees feel like their thoughts, opinions, and challenges are being heard, they feel more engaged with, invested in, and satisfied by their work at large.

Engagement, in particular, is important. Another Gallup poll reports that companies with high engagement see a 20% increase in productivity.

When you implement a pulse survey system, be sure to include short surveys that gauge employee engagement and satisfaction. These are important measures to track over time, and you should be able to correlate fluctuations with things that are happening within the company.

First Steps to Implementing Pulse Surveys

As you embark on using pulse surveys for your business, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Frequency. Decide on your goal frequency early on in the process. This will help you plan your time more efficiently. You can always change frequency later on to the cadence that works best for you and your coworkers.

Topics. Once you know how often you’ll be sending out pulse surveys, it’s time to plan out the first few topics. The flexibility of the pulse survey style means you’ll never have to stick to just one, but deciding on a few topics early in the process will save time as you build surveys.

Length. Keep them short and sweet. The ideal length is less than five minutes. Any longer, and they become a chore for employees to complete.

Share. Once the votes are tallied and the results are in, share your results with everyone in the company. (While we’re on the topic, you don’t necessarily need everyone to respond to have a representative sample of your employees. Find your perfect survey sample size with our calculator.)

Next steps. Surveying your employees won’t help if you never do anything to act of their replies. When you share results, include any action items that have been approved for implementation. This could be changing out which flavors of LaCroix are stocked in the kitchen or letting employees know that job perks like gym membership reimbursements are being considered. Let employees know, too, if there’s something that they want that cannot be acted upon in that moment. Yes, no one likes the weird squeaky door, but it has to wait until next quarter to get fixed due to budgets. Pulse surveys improve communication, so it’s important to honor employee input by responding.

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