As we shift into a more people-centric employee experience in today’s modern, flexible world, workplace leaders are starting to approach employee sentiment differently too, using tools like pulse surveys to keep a closer connection to their teams.
When measuring employee sentiment, surveying is a people management team’s best friend. Yet, those in-depth, formal employee engagement surveys are slowly becoming outdated, especially when serving as a single source of data for teams. According to Gartner, from 2015 to 2019, the percentage of organizations utilizing lengthy annual sentiment surveys dropped from 89 percent to 74 percent.
“I can be purposeful of what we want to grow, but we can’t necessarily control how it’ll manifest itself. We need to tend to it. We need to constantly look at it. It’s an output of the values, the people we have, and the events and context.”
Gustafson’s approach is part of the employee experience wave that puts people first. It’s more agile in response and creates space for context in order to serve and understand employees better. With that in mind, pulse surveys are a well-matched tool for keeping connected while getting the data your team needs to understand and serve your people.
Read on to see why and to learn how you can use employee pulse surveys with your organization.
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What is an employee pulse survey?
Employee surveys are routine for any organization. They are tools for organization leaders to capture confidential feedback to gauge employee satisfaction and set new goals for company culture. Pulse surveys are no different, although with a few notable exceptions.
Rather than sending out an in-depth questionnaire to your entire organization, pulse surveys enable people management and HR leaders to check in with their people — to keep a pulse on employee feedback — more regularly.
With ten questions or less, a pulse survey is more agile and requires less time from your employees to respond, which in turn increases response rates and processing time on your end.
In fact, many organizations utilize the pulse survey as a complement to the more detailed employee engagement survey. That way, management teams can decide on a few areas to focus on (like onboarding or DEI) while tracking sentiment on the latest company initiatives throughout the year.
For example, some organizations utilized a pulse survey strategy to ease into their return-to-office plans following the pandemic. They then issued another pulse survey after a period of time to gauge how people were adapting to their new work environment and guidelines, so the organization could adapt and respond to goals swiftly.
Why you should use pulse surveys
Traditionally, organizations send out extensive annual engagement surveys so human resource teams can track the results of previous initiatives and set new goals for the upcoming year. However, this method does take more time and lift from your team, not to mention from your people.
Pulse surveys provide a form of constant communication with your people and enable your team to benchmark and pivot more naturally. Here are more reasons why you should include pulse surveys in your employee engagement strategy:
A more dynamic, agile method to capture feedback
Pulse surveys include fewer questions for your employees to answer, which makes questions more focused, increases the number of responses, and helps you easily gauge employee sentiment throughout the year with real-time feedback.
With the Cooleaf platform, you can issue pulse surveys through the app, which send automatic notifications when a pulse survey is released and reminders for responding or completing. That means less admin work for your team to get respondents engaged.
Give a voice to your people
With how we work changing and as HR professionals approach the employee experience with a more human-centric one, a single survey touchpoint or data set won’t give our people or managers the connection they need to affect real change.
Pulse surveys systematically issued throughout the year can track changing employee sentiment.
And as you share results and share growth in responses, it can show your people you’re taking their feedback seriously and pivoting your approach where needed.
Help HR teams dig deeper
You need more than one data set to drive growth for a whole year.
Businesses continually track sales, marketing, and customer benchmarks either monthly or at each quarter, so why shouldn’t we do the same for tracking employee engagement levels?
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to diagnosing employee or job satisfaction at an organization. Outside circumstances like the pandemic, constant change, and even just new hires on a team mean that overall organizational sentiment can change in a very short amount of time.
Again, Mike Gustafson, said it best when he described culture as something his team “can constantly evolve.”
“We let it be shaped and evolve with people’s personalities and creativity,” he said on The Great Retention podcast. “It just has to stay true to our purpose.”
Pulse surveys keeps HR teams close to the people as they develop different employee engagement opportunities.
Surveying is part of testing organizational change. And pulse surveys offer more flexibility to help people management teams pivot if necessary, so a proper survey strategy can help you and your team identify, follow-up, iterate, and grow.
How to develop your pulse survey strategy
While pulse surveys make it easier for your team to execute and to receive quick feedback from respondents, it’s important to organize your survey strategy so you can intentionally gather feedback with purpose.
Depending on your employee engagement goals, you can build your pulse survey questions around your organizational initiatives.
For example, you might survey employees adapting to remote work. That means asking questions to see how connected employees feel with the organization, how productive they feel at home, and even if they’re happier in this set-up. Being intentional with your goals helps you begin to drill down on one area of focus to pinpoint viable solutions.
Now, along with purpose, being intentional will help you manage survey frequency. Over-surveying team members can lead to survey fatigue, which can make people feel despondent and can affect the rate or quality of the employee feedback. Less feedback, less to work with less change you can produce.
Too many surveys can give the impression that your organization lacks leadership and show your people that their voices aren’t being heard after all.
As you develop your own pulse survey, keep these steps to keep in mind to keep intentionality part of your pulse survey process:
1. Set your goals
Many pulse survey processes begin with your detailed employee engagement survey.
This will surface areas needing improvement, along with areas that are thriving, so you can prioritize elements for your goals and your action plan. For example, you might see a lack of employee motivation, so you might want to dig deeper and see whether your organization is offering growth opportunities like mentorship or additional training.
You can also launch a pulse survey strategy if you’re implementing organizational changes or launching new programs and want to track how employees feel. In this case, that might mean checking on your team after instituting a new hybrid work model. You can use a pulse survey to keep an eye on the reception of your rollout and how people are adapting.
Once you hone in on these goals, you’ll be able to develop your pulse survey questions to ensure clearer results.
2. Develop focused questions
If you’re using your employee engagement survey as a starting point, remember that these questionnaires will cover a broad range of topics from your company, from company values, to better work-life balance, to even worker happiness. The brevity of a pulse survey means you want to keep these questions focused to get the most impact.
You can vary your format and include a Likert scale (less likely to most likely) model, open-ended questions, and an “Agree or" Disagree” gauge. Once you hone in on the category you’ll work on (from DEI to onboarding), you can develop your survey questions focused on different aspects of company culture.
You will repeat questions on a pulse survey over a period of time in order to track growth in responses. For example, one question might show positive growth as people adapt and accept the new program or change.
And with tools like Cooleaf, you can create reusable survey templates to easily compare results over time.
Tailor your employee survey and personalize how you collect feedback on Cooleaf! Talk to our engagement experts about getting started today.
3. Share the findings with the team and introduce your action plan
Transparency with your employees can help increase workplace engagement and employee retention. In fact, 80 percent of employees value and are more loyal to employers who are transparent in their decision-making.
Sharing survey data results will also show your team that their voices are being heard and being used to guide change. Show comparisons of the previous survey to share your team members’ growth. This can also emphasize your survey’s purpose, which will also increase buy-in for the next survey too.
Cooleaf’s manager dashboard means you can track responses in easy-to-ready graphic visuals, along with downloadable Excel files, so you can share the findings with your team or even with other department leaders.
Respondents are still confidential but you can segment them by region or department, making it easier to investigate issues so you can diagnose more accurately.
The customer success team is always there to help interpret metrics and provide suggestions for your action plan depending on your goals.
4. Be sure to thank and recognize your people for taking the time to offer feedback
After you collect responses, send out a thank you, like a personalized email from a manager or your HR team. Employee recognition makes a huge difference in helping people feel appreciated and that their actions are acknowledged and heard.
With pulse survey tools like Cooleaf, you can automatically send out a thank you note with Cooleaf points as a token for your appreciation. Points also act as an incentive to complete a survey, and employees can later use their points to redeem physical rewards like gift cards or merchandise.
Bonus: Incorporate eNPS into your strategy
Have you heard of employee net promoter scores (eNPS)? Another great way to build a robust employee survey strategy is to include routine eNPS. These surveys are just as quick as a pulse survey and take a temperature on employee loyalty.
"Employee Net Promoter Score is the quick and standard way to track employee loyalty and satisfaction within an organization," says Jess White, Senior Director of Customer Success at Cooleaf.
eNPS tools can regularly benchmark your results over time, and tools like Cooleaf help organization leaders and HR teams filter data and provide solutions to drive your employee engagement.
“When you combine that data with the engagement initiatives and tactics that Cooleaf provides, eNPS becomes a very powerful tool for improving company culture,” adds Jess.
The importance of employee pulse survey results
Confidential, democratic, and more routine than a more detailed employee engagement survey, pulse surveys amplify your employee’s voices and keep workplace leaders in touch with sentiment throughout the year.
They’re a lighter lift for your people management team. And their focus and flexibility mean you can focus on one workplace attribute at a time.
When used with intention and the right strategy, pulse surveys become an effective tool to bring about valuable change to your organization and show your teams that you’re putting their needs first.