How Agile Companies Use Pulse Surveys

Thanks to advancements in technology, companies are becoming more agile. More dynamic workplaces, though, means more changes occur. According to our research, 57% of employees experienced significant change, including layoffs, mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring. Thankfully, advancements in technology also mean greater access to data, the tools to interpret them, and insights that help companies improve.

One standard source of data for more than 75% of our Fortune 500 clients is annual enterprise surveys. Though annual surveys are vital to gathering employee data which guides annual strategic planning, some companies focus their efforts solely on these annual enterprise surveys and. Consequently, they only get one side of the story.

Pulse surveys and their impact

The solution to incomplete data on employee attitudes and sentiments is pulse surveys. Your company is changing rapidly, and these shorter, more frequent employee surveys allow you to gather data in between annual surveys and adapt your strategy quickly. By implementing pulse surveys into your employee engagement strategy, you’ll develop an all-encompassing listening plan for effective change within your organization.

Pulse surveys help organizations:

  • Highlight and address problems quickly.

Your enterprise survey is only going to detect issues that arise once or twice a year. What if a problem in employee engagement or attitudes surfaces in the middle of the year? If you don’t identify them until the next annual survey, you could miss out an opportunity to implement a timely solution.

  • Cover topics not included in the enterprise survey.

Your annual survey can only be so long. Too many topics and questions can lead to respondents becoming overwhelmed and abandoning your survey. Your pulse surveys, on the other hand, can focus on specific issues and can be sent to the subsets of employees they most affect.

  • Quickly evaluate their improvement efforts.

Your enterprise surveys reveal key insights into what needs to change at your company. As you implement improvement initiatives, use pulse surveys to see how your efforts are performing.

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Types of pulse surveys

We advise our clients to survey employees throughout the year and at every stage of the employee lifecycle. This ensures you have a clear picture of how new and existing initiatives affect employees no matter where they are. Your entire listening program should include your company-wide annual surveys, onboarding and exit interviews, and pulse surveys.

Your pulse surveys may include:

  • The Key Metrics Survey

Companies want to track key metrics that support their business strategy, and they want it on a frequent basis. Pulse surveys that track metrics like engagement and agility are short and can be administered on a regular basis throughout the year. The topics covered are selected from the enterprise survey and remain consistent so your leadership can compare the data.

  • The Improvement Efforts Survey

One of the goals of enterprise surveys is to drive organizational change, and the Improvement Efforts Survey narrows in on the impact of the changes that are put into place.

  • The Employee Perception to Change Survey

Along with measuring the impact of the post-enterprise survey changes, companies can measure and understand employee perception of the efforts. By administering these pulse surveys throughout the process, you can course correct your strategy if needed.

  • The Hot Topics Survey

Inevitably, topics that aren’t in the initial strategy come up throughout the year. To address these one-off issues and concepts, leadership can send short a short series of questions, single-questions, and polls to find out how employees perceive them.

  • The Ongoing Feedback Survey

You don’t need an old-fashioned suggestion box in your office to encourage employees to share their thoughts. With surveys that are always accessible online, your workers can provide qualitative feedback at any time, no matter what events trigger them to speak up. With automated text analysis software, you can quickly see whether overall employee sentiment is positive or negative.

Putting your strategy into practice

Now that you know about the impact of pulse surveys and the most common types, begin planning the practical aspects of your survey strategy, such as:

Topics. As you create your pulse surveys, use your goals to drive the content. If, for example, you want to measure employee engagement between enterprise surveys, you could use a targeted subset of questions from the company-wide survey to build your pulse survey. Similarly, if you’re interested in how employees feel about your leadership’s strategy to improve certain areas of your business, you may design questions around these items and pair them with relevant questions from the enterprise survey. This helps establish a baseline against which you can compare your results.

Survey recipients. Depending on the subject matter, you’ll send your surveys to a sample of your employees or the employees are directly affected by the topics. If you want to measure the effects in morale from a wage increase for management, you would only send the survey to those who received the pay raise. To measure how a new 401k plan is affecting the entire company, you could randomly select a sample of your employees overall.

How many employees you select to participate in your survey is entirely up to you. Surveying a large number of employees can lead to deeper insights, but it can also lead to a more complicated process. Surveying a select number of higher-level employees can limit the number of responses you’ll receive, but it can lead to more effective and agile implementation for your pulse surveys.  

Supporting communications. Want high response rates for your pulse surveys? Brand your survey program, and build out strong communication plan to support it. Help employees see how the surveys fit into the big picture, their role in the program, and their responsibility to contribute. Always involve managers in this process and ensure that they understand every aspect of the survey strategy.

Pulse surveys are effective tools for agile companies, and their purpose is to drive change by creating opportunities to continuously listen to your employees. Gather feedback from your workforce, and use it to inspire improvements throughout your organization. For a more detailed look into pulse surveys, check out our whitepaper, Pulse Surveys: How, Why, and When to Use Them, or schedule a personalized discovery session with our team of experts today!

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