Emerging trends in pulse survey best practices

We recently covered on our blog how your company can benefit from pulse check surveys. We mentioned their ability to produce quick and actionable insights, and how they help companies track quality data. This week we’re taking a look at pulse survey best practices. 

Pulse survey best practices include the types of questions you ask, the cadence you set, and what you’re aiming to accomplish through surveying. Once you’re able to implement best practices, you’ll see better results from your pulse surveys and find other ways to use them within your organization. 

Establishing clear objectives for your pulse survey

The first pulse survey best practices question to ask yourself is—why are you launching your survey campaign in the first place? What are you trying to solve for and what questions does your organization need answered? 

Goals will vary by organization and needs, likely being very specific to your circumstances. We know that some organizations like to use pulse surveys after major changes—like when they’ve added a new department lead or implemented a new tool. Pulse surveys give these companies a window of time to deploy these periodic check-ins to see how things are going. 

Whatever the goals of your company, a pulse survey best practice is to understand the results you want from the outset. Don’t enter pulse surveying assuming it’s good to get information without identifying a focus. These surveys are most valuable when they’re asking specific questions based on specific circumstances at a company. Having clear objectives lets you establish the factors you want to measure.These factors will then be the basis for the questions you ask in your survey. 

pulse survey best practices

Be intentional about the questions that you ask 

In our last blog post we gave some guidance about pulse survey questions. These surveys usually range between 5–15 questions and can include key metrics like employee net promoter score, retention questions, scaled questions, or qualitative questions. What’s important is that you don’t overwhelm your workers with too much to answer, but you also don’t ask too little and end up without good information. 

Including questions in your pulse surveys that relate to the critical numbers you track in your engagement surveys (like eNPS, eSat, etc.) will let you create multiple data points throughout the year. You can track these key metrics to give you a better sense of trends over time.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of anonymity for your pulse survey. Workers are usually eager to give feedback, especially if it relates to recent changes or pain points in the business. The reassurance they do need is that their answers will be anonymous. Employees want the confidence that they can share freely without any backlash or repercussions. 

Pro tip: It’s good to include at least a few open ended questions on your surveys. Likert scale questions help employees respond faster—which is important for high participation—but a few open ended questions let you gather critical info you wouldn’t get otherwise.

The importance of analytics in pulse surveys 

An emerging pulse survey best practice is to focus on a real analytics approach to mining your data. There will be a lot to work through once you close the pulse survey and shift your focus to data and analytics, so having a robust business intelligence platform that lets you easily identify insights in your data will help your effort to drive action. 

This will also make it easy for you to slice and dice your data and isolate groups that you may want to drill into to get more information (like focus groups, etc.). Quick follow ups like this on your pulse survey won’t necessarily enact change, but will show your employees that you are committed to moving forward. 

Pro tip: After clearly establishing your survey objectives and the factors you’re measuring, you should consider which questions will provide well rounded feedback and data sets.

For example, if you’re measuring manager effectiveness, you should assess the various aspects of manager effectiveness that matter most to your company, then ask specific questions related to those behaviors. The general rule is to ask 4–5 questions per factor to ensure you get a reliable data set that provides statistical accuracy for your pulse survey. 

reporting access guide

Manage  expectations for how fast you’ll act on the results

Since many pulse surveys are used after a major change in workflow or leadership, it’s important to remind workers that the reason you’re asking their feedback is so that you can improve their working lives and the culture of the company. 

Despite the goal of improvement, workers need to know that actions aren’t always immediate. Change takes time. Even if the problems identified are clear, actions may take longer due to budgeting constraints, headcount, or even disagreement between departments in the organization. 

A pulse survey best practice—and one generally for companies—is to be transparent and open with your people. Always remember that relationships involve two parties, and workers will be eager to help once they’ve earned your trust. Make sure to avoid over or under promising to your employees during your pulse survey campaigns.

Ready to start your pulse surveys today?

Do you have buy-in from your organization about the need for an employee engagement program? Have you realized the importance of pulse surveys after learning about HR trends in 2021?

Wherever you’re at in your engagement journey, Workify is here to help. Our survey methodology is backed by organizational psychologists, and has shown proven results for companies just like yours.