Pulse Survey Decisions

When measuring employee engagement, we recommend a comprehensive annual survey as the best practice. It’s the equivalent of getting an annual physical for your workplace – lots of tests and measures to assess overall health and determine what’s working, what needs changed, and where more testing may be required. However, we also know that supplementing your annual engagement survey with shorter, more ad hoc surveys, also known as pulse surveys, can be beneficial.  Pulse surveys can be related to your annual engagement survey to go deeper on cultural aspects impacting engagement, or can be on various topics that’s relevant to a point in time (i.e. Town Hall Survey, Start-Stop-Continue, etc.).  

Regardless of your need for the pulse survey, the following steps are beneficial:

Step 1: Define the purpose(s) of your pulse survey(s)

Pulse surveys can take a variety of forms, depending on the need the pulse survey is addressing. The following are common types of pulse surveys:

  • Quickly assessing engagement levels
  • Tracking progress on engagement efforts
  • Assessing accountability around engagement
  • Creating a better understanding a specific topic, such as collecting feedback on a recent change or initiative or taking a deeper dive into a known issue.
  • A combination of any of the above (e.g. tracking progress on engagement efforts and assessing accountability around engagement)

Step 2: Select survey items that align with your purpose

Pulse surveys are intended to be short, often 5-10 survey items. Select items that align with the purpose of your pulse survey:

A quick assessment of engagement levels

Choose up to 3. If choosing three, we recommend one assessing organizational engagement, one assessing team engagement, and one assessing work engagement.

  • Organizational Engagement
    • I recommend this organization as a great place to work.
    • I am proud to work here. 
    • It would take a lot to get me to leave this organization. 
  • Team Engagement
    • My immediate coworkers go the extra mile to achieve great results. 
    • My immediate coworkers are committed to this organization’s goals. 
    • I feel accepted by my immediate coworkers. 
  • Work Engagement
    • I am inspired by the work we do. 
    • I find my work engaging. 
    • My work motivates me. 

Tracking progress on engagement efforts 

Choose all or some of the survey items that were top drivers of engagement. 

Assessing accountability around engagement

Choose 1-4 items.

  • My manager shared the results of the last survey with our team.
  • Our team developed commitments to address issues raised in the last survey.
  • I noticed positive change as a result of the last survey.
  • Senior leadership is committed to responding to the results of this survey.

Better understanding of a specific topic

Talk with your Implementation Team for guidance.

Step 3: Determine the population who will be surveyed

  • Entire population: Ideal for any type of survey, except when the survey is specific to a particular group (e.g. a location, department, or newly acquired company) or if survey fatigue is a concern.
  • Random sample of population: Random sampling may be appropriate for some surveys. This technique is more commonly used in customer or market surveys. Statistically, this means you’re likely to collect feedback that represents a larger group by only surveying a subset. However, this approach is not the best fit if you’re wanting to understand granular results at the team or department level or share results with teams (there may be too few respondents). Additionally, giving all employees an opportunity to share feedback is an important way to show you value their opinions. Sampling can make employees feel excluded or that their feedback isn’t valued, which can work against your employee engagement efforts. Because of this, we don’t recommend random sampling for surveys related to employee engagement efforts.
  • Specific populations (departments, locations, or a recently acquired company, as examples): Ideal for pulse surveys that are intended to create a better understanding of a specific topic.

Step 4: Identify who will be given direct access to the pulse survey results

  • Human Resources and/or Leadership
    • When managers and teams are NOT expected to take action on results (the results may be more so used by HR or leadership).
    • If results provide coaching opportunities for some managers (e.g. unfavorable results on accountability around engagement), HR may serve as the go-between to avoid all managers receiving access to results they may not need to take action on.
  • All Managers
    • When managers and teams are expected to take action on results.

* When creating a Pulse survey, it will not be launched to the respondents until all steps are completed, and "Start the countdown!" is selected.  Your cycle will be saved throughout the cycle creation process (every time you select "Save and Continue" in between steps), so you can exit and return to the Edit Cycle page until you're ready to launch your Pulse!