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How Pulse Surveys Can Help Improve Employee Retention

Employee engagement and retention has never been more important. As we support remote, in-person and hybrid workforces, reading the room is crucial in understanding an organization’s trends. Your teams, whether working side by side or around the globe, want to contribute to decisions impacting their colleagues. And that’s where pulse surveys come in.

Pulse surveys “take the pulse” of your organization. They are helpful tools that measure progress, understand employee experiences and promote action. Due to their convenience and simplicity, they can be sent more frequently without the danger of survey fatigue. This helps you measure engagement in real time without overwhelming employees. They can even target specific teams from within your company and be sent by their managers.

Pulse surveys allow your employees to weigh in on present issues, rather than issues they had a year ago. This allows you to follow up with immediate action or investigate them further. Unlike annual employee engagement surveys, which tend to be complex with dozens of nebulous questions, pulse surveys seek specific input! These rapid fire questions are complete within five minutes, leaving employers with higher participation and response rates than annual surveys.

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Pulse surveys are similar to NPS (net promoter score) surveys in that they contain brief and simple questions. The NPS is a single item that asks something like, “How likely are you to recommend working for our company to a friend or colleague?”

Best Practices For Sending Employee Pulse Surveys

Asking your team for regular feedback in any form encourages positive employee engagement. So, pulse surveys are a sure-fire way to do it! Survey feedback should always flow to managers directly. The job of HR is to ensure that the process works and that the data is collected accurately — even, anonymously. They can be used for any topic, ranging from DEI initiatives to benefits programs to company culture and events. Make it engaging! Ask employees whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich (we all have our opinions!) or other lighthearted questions. Use them in company events for employees to vote on best Halloween costumes or best dishes at potlucks. Whatever it is, use these surveys to show your team that their opinions matter… and bonding does too!

Simply put, pulse surveys improve your company culture. For instance, companies used them during the pandemic to gauge feelings about returning to the office and made decisions accordingly. Now, there is one caveat — if you ask a question, be prepared to respond in accordance with your workforce. Ignoring your employees/ hopes in favor of what leaderships wants often means taking a punch to employee morale. Employees want to be heard; so, if you ask, be prepared to listen and act.

Some best practices for pulse surveys: 

  • Pulse surveys are used for a different purpose than an annual or quarterly employee survey. Longer surveys serve their purpose by measuring the broader employee experience; pulse surveys should be timely, organic and more relevant to current projects or programs. 
  • Pulse surveys do not have to come from HR. Enable your team leaders and managers to send surveys to team members about specific projects, and train them on how to respond once they receive feedback. 
  • Use a format or platform that has mobile and text survey response capability. The easier you make it for employees to respond, the higher your response rate will be.
  • Consider asking yes or no questions (polls are popular on Instagram for a reason). Yes or no, true or false, option one or option two. 
  • Avoid “survey fatigue” by sending them just often enough for your managers to get the information they need and for employees to feel like they are included in the decision-making process. 
  • Act on the survey data. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is sending employee surveys and then not taking any action to address the results. As managers send these for specific projects, encourage them to communicate the actions they are taking based on the survey responses with their team.

Pulse surveys can be a valuable tool to help your company solve one of the most expensive people problems — employee turnover. Using these surveys can give you, and your organization’s team leaders, insight into employee satisfaction. Acting on them can create a collaborative culture that boosts employee morale, and in the long term, employee retention. The key is in understanding that it’s a two-part process of gathering information and taking action on the information gathered. 

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