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5 Ways to Use Employee Pulse Surveys

As businesses face a larger number of more rapid changes than ever before, companies have adapted their annual employee engagement surveys to understand how employees are coping with all the change. More companies now complement their annual surveys with shorter employee pulse surveys throughout the year to measure multiple aspects including how employees are adapting to changing leadership, technology, and organizational objectives.

However, if companies are going to use pulse surveys, it’s imperative they develop a comprehensive employee survey strategy that spells out how pulse surveys supplement annual employee engagement initiatives. This will ensure that effective surveys are carried out and provide leaders with timely data to guide decisions and shape their business strategy. Employee pulse surveys can bolster employee engagement initiatives in five ways.

  1. Track progress toward key metrics between enterprise surveys: Employee pulse surveys can be deployed to collect data on key metrics from the large-scale enterprise survey. These short surveys are typically conducted on a quarterly or monthly basis, and they often include the same questions every time to show historical progress against those metrics. They are typically deployed to a random sample of employees to allow for precision for both company-wide results as well as specific business units within the company.The results provided by these regular pulse surveys allow organizations to address any observed issues in an agile, expedient manner before these concerns present a serious barrier to progress.
  2. Measure improvement from action initiatives: Action planning is a key component of any successful annual employee engagement survey, and pulse surveys give leaders the tools they need to understand the impact of their plans. Pulse surveys taken at specific intervals of an action plan can quickly indicate whether or not progress is being made against an action plan’s desired objectives.These surveys have the added effect of demonstrating an organization’s commitment to change to its employees, which can help with employee engagement and adoption of new policies.
  3. Diagnose the reasons initiatives succeeded or failed: Organizational initiatives can succeed or fail for any number of reasons. Pulse surveys allow leaders to dig deeper into these factors during a program’s implementation to improve outcomes by diagnosing potential flaws and ensuring that employees have the tools they need to facilitate organizational change.For example, pulse surveys can be used to measure whether or not employees understand the impetus for a change, assess the degree to which they are committed to the change, and discover whether the change has achieved its desired impact after its implementation.
  4. Gain employee feedback on recent events or hot topics: Changes in management, technology, and culture (post M&A) can all affect employee sentiment and engagement. Pulse surveys are the ideal tool to garner feedback on hot topics in real time.In practice, a quick pulse survey could be deployed to a small sample of employees during a period of transition to assess how well the team is responding to change. If no red flags are reported, the organization will know that its efforts are proceeding smoothly.
  5. Measure current employee sentiment through continuous listening: Increasingly, organizations are taking an “always on” approach to employee engagement through a practice that has become known as continuous listening. For example, a “suggestion box” pulse survey approach provides employees with an on-going opportunity to share feedback on various topics.Active listening with pulse surveys are a great way for organizations to obtain consistent feedback and identify areas of concern. While these fast, frequent surveys cannot replace annual employee engagement initiatives, they can offer important insight into the day-to-day operations of an evolving business.

Contributed by CEB, a best practice insight and technology company. Read more CEB blogs here.

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