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Attracting and retaining talent

15 pulse survey questions to ask your employees

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Think you know how your employees really feel? Think again. There’s a wide disconnect between HR professionals’ perception and reality: employees are twice as likely as HR professionals to give their organization a poor rating. Organizations need to give employees a voice so they can identify and address issues before it’s too late.

Pulse surveys are a quick, easy way to solicit feedback anonymously, so employees are free to express themselves freely. Most employees (77%) are more likely to be honest when responding to a survey than talking to their manager. More focused and concise than traditional annual surveys, pulse surveys are intended to keep tabs on your team’s ever-evolving engagement levels so your company can act as needed.

Employee Engagement Pulse Survey White Paper

The most important aspect of a pulse survey is, of course, the questions it asks. Here are 15 questions that get to the heart of the most important aspects of the employee experience, framed as statements your employees can agree or disagree with using the Likert scale.

Engagement indicators

Let’s start with the three primary indicators of engagement: enthusiasm, commitment, and advocacy. These questions are intended to paint a picture of the current level of employee engagement at your organization.

1. Enthusiasm

I am always excited to head to work.

Engaged employees are enthusiastic and motivated, so this is a question you should include in all of your pulse surveys. If it shows low levels of excitement among employees, implement initiatives to reverse this trend. Beyond continuing to solicit and act on employee feedback, starting a recognition program, empowering your team, and focusing on company culture are all great ways to boost enthusiasm and engagement among your workforce.

2. Advocacy

I would recommend this company as a great place to work.

There’s little better indication of whether an employee feels your organization is on the right track — and whether they plan on staying for the long haul — than seeing if they’d refer a friend. Employee referrals can be your most valuable hiring channel, so consider implementing a formal employee referral program. If employees aren’t willing to recommend your company, they’ve got one foot out the door. So take steps to improve aspects of the employee experience that impact retention, like providing clear paths for career growth and development.

3. Commitment

I see myself here a year from now.

Employees who don’t see a future with your company are unlikely to give their all day-in and day-out. If responses to this question lean negative, ensure your organization is doing all it can to boost employee retention, from supporting professional development to establishing clear career paths.

Engagement drivers

After getting a picture of where engagement stands now, your company should dedicate the majority of its pulse survey to the factors that drive engagement.

4. Recognition

The recognition I receive makes me feel valued at work.

Employees who feel appreciated stick around and give their all. Employees who go unrecognized don’t. Recognition has a demonstrated positive effect on motivation and engagement.

If most employees respond affirmatively to this question, your recognition program is on the right track. If they don’t, explore new ways to provide employee recognition, and consider adopting an employee recognition platform to make showing appreciation as easy as possible.

You might also consider asking employees whether they’re satisfied with the incentives your organization offers. Implementing great employee incentive programs is an excellent way to demonstrate appreciation tangibly, and improving your incentives doesn’t have to break the bank.

5. Feedback

I feel comfortable providing honest feedback regarding my work experience.

This may be the most critical question in any pulse survey, as without it, you’ll have no idea whether you can trust that the results are accurate. You need to cultivate an environment of psychological safety so employees can confidently express their true feelings. Focus on things like building trust and inclusivity, and your employees will repay you with valuable insights.

6. Purpose

I find my job meaningful.

Without a meaningful set of company values that support a mission they can believe in, it’s more difficult for employees to stay motivated. Your organization should develop a vision that is clear and compelling, communicate it throughout the company, and ensure that everyone, from leadership on down, acts in alignment with your organization’s values.

7. Professional development

I am satisfied with the available opportunities for professional development.

Providing a clear career path for all employees and giving them the resources and chances they need to succeed and develop is a no-brainer, but many organizations still fail to do so. If your pulse survey shows that employees feel that they’re at a dead end professionally, you should attack the problem from multiple angles. Implement coaching and mentoring programs, empower employees with more autonomy and new responsibilities, and provide internal and external training opportunities at all levels.

8. Empowerment

I have the support and resources I need to succeed at work every day.

Even the most engaged employee is likely to become disillusioned if their best efforts are routinely frustrated by factors outside their control. From training employees on the skills they need, to ensuring they know that management has their back, to simply implementing the processes required for success, there are many ways your organization can empower employees to thrive.

9. Expectations

The expectations of me at work are reasonable and easily understood.

Asking employees to do more than they can — or failing to clearly communicate exactly what they’re expected to do — is a fast track to burnout and turnover. If employees indicate that they have problems with work expectations, your organization needs to respond. Evaluate the requirements placed on each role and employee carefully, adjust as needed to match reality, then communicate them to all team members. Keep tailoring responsibilities and expectations as required until everyone knows exactly what they’re expected to accomplish and are confident they can do so.

10. Culture

I feel that our culture is a good fit for me.

Employee alignment with your culture and values is the foundation for any organization’s success. It’s the number one predictor of engagement in our new normal. Employees appreciate the authenticity shown by companies whose values and actions align, so a lack of alignment between your organization and its values means that you’ll need to take a careful look to determine where the business is falling short. Start by examining your values and taking steps to build a healthier culture.

11. Role

I’m well-suited to my current role in the organization.

A lack of fit between a team member and their role at your company can be indicative of many things. It may point to cultural differences, issues with your organization’s hiring and onboarding processes, or problems involving less-than-appealing career paths. Better aligning employee desires and existing roles should be a priority if answers to this question aren’t what your company expects.

12. Leadership

I trust my leadership team’s vision.

The leaders at your organization, from the C-suite on down, control the direction of your business and set the tone on everything from culture to daily work habits. If they don’t live your organization’s values, champion recognition, and practice transparency in everything they do, employees will take notice. HR should collaborate with leaders by providing necessary training and guidance to help ensure leadership is driving engagement instead of hindering it.

13. Manager support

My manager gives me what I need to succeed.

The impact of leadership on engagement carries on all the way to the managerial level: managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Managers must listen when employees speak, especially when their feedback concerns managers themselves. HR professionals should help management transition to a supportive, coaching approach, which can go a long way towards improving the relationship between managers and their direct reports.

14. Wellness

I have been able to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Work-life balance is a key part of employee wellness, the measure of employees’ physical and emotional health. The majority of employees don’t feel their company supports their wellness, although 80% of executives do. Burnout is on the rise, and wellness is a key part of keeping it at bay. Implement wellness initiatives like promoting mindfulness and fostering a healthy work environment if the answers to this question and others like it are negative.

15. Team relationships

I can rely on the other members of my team.

Team members with genuine, strong relationships help each other — and the organization as a whole — in countless ways. You can’t force your team members to automatically trust each other, but you can create the right circumstances for relationships to thrive organically. By practicing many of the recommendations above, you’ll be able to strengthen the bonds that bind your company together.

Analyze and act on pulse survey results

So, you’ve got your questions: what now? After carrying out your pulse survey, you need to analyze the data you’ve collected and create an action plan for responding to any issues you identify. Some data, like responses to the questions above, are easy to measure. But don’t neglect reviewing comments — which you should allow employees to leave in response to most or all questions — as these provide valuable additional insights that supplement the quantitative data.

This is all much simpler with a platform that lets you easily drill down into the results and discover the key engagement drivers for employees in your organization, so you can focus your resources accordingly. It should break down data using intuitive dashboards and reports and allow you to export results to share. Beyond analysis, the platform must help guide you from analysis to action by giving you the tools you need to build a collaborative action plan with your team.

Achievers Listen offers all this and more. With the ability to easily create and deliver pulse surveys, an always-on employee feedback channel, robust reporting capabilities, and the best Action Builder around, Achievers Listen is the definitive employee engagement solution.

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