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Gathering and acting on employee feedback is crucial if you want to improve engagement, which drives greater business outcomes related to the employee experience, such as productivity and retention. Our recent survey shows that most employers are only measuring engagement once a year, if that, and many employees want more frequent surveys. This is where pulse surveys come into the picture. Before diving into the benefits of pulse surveys, let’s first define what they are.
What are pulse surveys?
Pulse surveys are a small number of questions conducted on a frequent basis, measuring a specific area over a period of time. For example, you might conduct a 15-question engagement survey once a quarter.
Making surveys quick and easy for employees to complete leads to greater participation and stronger, more reliable results. Pulse surveys also allow for streamlined data collection and timely analysis of results, so organizations can respond to feedback quickly.
According to the recent Achievers Workforce Institute Culture Report, there is a clear connection between frequency of surveys and engagement, showing that the pulse survey approach works to impact engagement. Some organizations are using pulse surveys in addition to their annual engagement survey as a complementary way to collect and respond to employee feedback.
Almost half (46 percent) of organizations are conducting an engagement survey just once a year, plus another third (33 percent) are conducting them every two years or less. Just 21 percent of companies are conducting engagement surveys three or more times per year. This frequent surveying with a focus on taking action from results are commonly called pulse surveys. This type of survey is recommended by Achievers Workforce Institute because research shows that engagement is fluid, meaning that it changes frequently. By surveying just once a year or less, and then taking months to take action based on results, companies are missing out on the opportunity to engage staff with quick action based on recent feedback.
There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to employee engagement surveys. Each organization must determine the best survey cadence for their employees, and a customized approach based on the needs and capabilities of the organization is the most effective method.
Why you should add pulse surveys to your engagement measurement practice
Why are pulse surveys important and why should your organization get on board with frequent surveying? Below are the top three benefits of pulse surveys.
1. Employees want more frequent surveys
More than half of respondents (58 percent), both leaders and individual contributors, say they wish their company conducted surveys more frequently.
This was even higher for retail where two-thirds (67 percent) agreed they should be surveyed more frequently.
Achievers Workforce Institute recommends pulse surveys because they maintain a flow of feedback in the workplace. However, introducing pulse surveys does require additional communication with employees so they understand why a survey is taking place and how the results will be used.
2. A pulse approach drives engagement
Achievers Workforce Institute Culture Report
A key benefit of pulse surveys is that they are directly tied to engagement. As you can see in the above chart, there is a clear correlation between the frequency of survey and employee engagement levels. The more often companies are surveying their workforce, the higher overall engagement becomes. For those who were surveyed more than four times a year, 41 percent said they were very engaged.
Achievers Workforce Institute does not conclude that surveys cause engagement to increase — surveys alone are not enough to move the dial on engagement. Instead, it’s likely that organizations with pulse or “always on” feedback methods, such as continuous listening and check-in tools, are also responding quickly to feedback. These timely micro-actions demonstrate to employees that they are being listened to and that the company cares for their opinions, which in turn increases advocacy, commitment, and enthusiasm — the three ingredients of employee engagement.
3. Employees are more honest in surveys than with their managers
You don’t need pulse surveys — your managers have regular check-ins and one-to-one meetings to get all the feedback you need from employees, right?
Achievers Workforce Institute Culture Report
As this chart shows, that belief could not be further from the truth. Three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents would be more honest in a survey than in conversation with a manager. This key finding highlights one of the most important benefits of pulse surveys: Your employees will be more honest.
The fact is that it’s sometimes difficult to be candid to someone’s face — especially if that person is potentially part of the problem. You’ll get much more honest and open responses from a survey than from your managers’ face-to-face meetings.
Reap the benefits of pulse surveys
In challenging times, it’s important to make decisions based on the best information. As our data shows, that means listening to employees frequently and acting on that feedback to increase engagement and drive business results. Most employers are relying on annual surveys and manager conversations to gather that information, which we know is less effective than a listening tool such as pulse surveys or continuous conversation solutions.
If your organization wants to exceed employee expectations, drive better business results, and increase employee engagement, investigating pulse surveys should be your first stop. Start establishing a continuous listening approach at your organization today and reap the benefits of pulse surveys.
To access more key findings and insights on engagement surveys, download our Culture Report.