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Top tips for using pulse surveys to gauge employee engagement

By April 8, 2020Employee surveys

Employee engagement is a dynamic state of affairs that isn’t easily measured by any linear formula, and least of all by the annual engagement survey.

It’s not a matter of, ‘you’ve got it, or you don’t’. Employee engagement ebbs and flows. Your objective, as a people performance professional, is to raise the overall level of engagement and then manage the curve. And that takes real-time communication, prompt feedback and appropriate action. The traditional annual engagement survey has its place providing a long view, but it’s far too removed from day-to-day performance to be very useful. Enter the employee pulse survey.

A pulse survey is a concise series of questions sent out at short intervals (weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on the subject) as a means to check-in on specific issues of concern. Pulse surveys typically have between 5 – 15 simple questions on a single subject and are sent out quarterly. For example, an employee engagement pulse survey might ask questions about job satisfaction, the work environment or co-worker relationships.

They’re fast and easy to complete, so response rates are high, feedback is prompt and survey fatigue is minimised. You just need to listen and act.

Here are a few tips for using employee pulse surveys effectively.

Write simple, direct questions

Think about what you want to know and why you’re asking the question. How will the feedback add value to your business? Phrase your questions simply and briefly. Here are some examples:

  • I regularly receive meaningful recognition for doing good work. The answers will tell you if your employees feel valued and if they feel that their contributions and achievements are appreciated.Maybe you have some form of recognition program in place. If they’re not feeling it, you have to wonder what’s lacking in your program. Or maybe it’s not the program, per se, but your line managers just aren’t giving the small, casual recognition gestures that make people feel good about their day. It’s a valuable heads-up on a serious obstacle to engagement.
  • I have the equipment and supplies I need to perform my job to the best of my ability. The answer will tell you if your employees have everything they need to do their jobs effectively.Maybe there are major obstacles to their work that you’re not aware of. Or maybe it’s a simple case of upgrading the printers in accounting or repairing the broken forklifts in the warehouse. Those are problems you can remedy in fairly short order and the next pulse survey should reflect a positive change in score.
  • I feel comfortable offering my suggestions and giving honest feedback to managers. The answers will give you a true reflection of your company culture and highlight strengths and weaknesses in certain working relationships.You can’t dictate engagement, so better to understand if and how you need to help certain managers establish open, honest working relationships with their direct reports. When people feel safe to disagree with the status quo and offer new solutions, you can bet they’re fully engaged with their work. Managers need to know how to create that environment.

Announce the survey

Pulse surveys are fast and easy to complete, but a little promotion will further support a high response rate. Send a brief message to let people know when to expect the survey, what it’s about and how you will use their feedback. Be sure to let them know if their responses are anonymous (they should be). Also, let them know that you value their participation. Some people will look forward to sharing their opinions and experiences with you.

Pulse surveys are a regular reminder that senior management actively seeks out and values employee feedback. When you establish an atmosphere of open communication, you pave the way for other exchanges, like knowledge sharing among colleagues, recommendations on procedural improvements and innovative solutions to business challenges. These are exactly the kind of conversations that boost a culture of high employee engagement levels.

Send follow up communications

After the survey, follow up with a note of thanks for participating, provide feedback on results and set a timetable for future announcements and action plans. And do it promptly. Pulse survey analysis is a quicker, simpler exercise than long-form engagement surveys. You’ve invited feedback, so don’t delay in responding. Let people know they’ve been heard.

Once you’ve established an action plan, share it with employees and be sure to include timeframes, people responsible for implementation and other relevant details. Because pulse surveys are deployed over short timeframes, you have an opportunity to immediately begin incremental changes and create positive momentum for improvement that should be reflected in the next survey.

Repeat the process

Pulse surveys are best used as an adjunct to the annual employee engagement survey that produces a whopping amount of data – but in a broad stroke just once a year. Pulse, surveys, on the other hand, act as a sort of regular, ongoing dialogue with employees. They speak, you respond, and the cycle continues.

A healthy dynamic

The consistent flow of information provided by employee feedback and regular, meaningful response from management establishes a healthy organisational dynamic and sets the stage for high employee engagement.

If you’d like to find out more about the eValue pulse survey and how it can help you better understand and engage your employees, get in touch with us today.