Are You Listening? What’s Your Pulse Survey Strategy?

Leanne Buehler, Ph.D., Managing Partner & VP of Consulting SolutionsPulse Surveys0 Comments

It used to be best practice for organizations to measure employee engagement every 12 – 24 months and then roll out a year long process of disseminating results and building action plans. That approach no longer works. Why? The rate at which businesses are changing has accelerated. In the course of 1 – 2 years, your organization is likely to face new competitors, new technology, and changing workforce expectations.

To keep up with the pace of change, it is best practice for organizations to ask employees for feedback on a more regular basis. Pulse surveys that are around 5 questions in length but focused on a key topic can provide leaders with just-in-time information that allows for deeper understanding, quick course corrections, and accountability.

Many of our clients have asked about best practices for using pulse surveys. We suggest beginning your employee survey strategy by implementing a full employee engagement survey (and by full we mean ~30 questions that are validated to measure employee engagement AND are focused on key strategic topics custom to your organization). This first baseline survey will provide insight into the most critical topics and help identify particular employee populations that may be struggling.

With a baseline established, 2 – 4 pulse surveys a year can help make sure leaders stay in-tune with employee sentiment. Here are a few effective ways our clients are using pulse surveys.

Drive Accountability: A quick pulse survey can help ensure that employees know what is happening with their feedback from the baseline survey. Did someone talk to them about their feedback? Do they know what is happening as a result?

Dig Deeper on Key Topics: Inevitably key findings from the baseline survey lead to more questions. For example, employee feedback may reveal that there is a need for more development opportunities. A pulse survey can help uncover specifics about the type of development opportunities that are of interest (is it promotion? training? mentoring?).

Assess The Impact of Follow-up Actions: Responding to employee feedback is critical, but how do you know if the action that has been taken is having an impact? Checking in after change initiatives are underway can help make sure that you are on the right path and allow you to course correct as needed.

For example, one client rolled out a manager training program to teach conflict manager skills. After the training, a pulse survey indicated that managers were feeling better about how conflict was being addressed, but line-level employees hadn’t noticed much change. The organization was then able to take the next step by helping managers share what they had learned and implement best practices with their teams.

Evaluate Key Initiatives: Pulse surveys can be a great way to ensure employees are getting what they need to execute new programs or initiatives. For example, one client used a survey to determine if employees had what they needed to be successful in adopting a new electronic medical records software. Was it easy to use? Did they have the help desk support they needed?

Check-in On Key Employee Segments: Baseline surveys often identify employee populations that are have significant opportunities. Perhaps they have a new leader, are going through high degrees of change, or experiencing high levels of turnover. A pulse survey targeted just to these employees can help leaders further understand key issues and determine if progress is being made.

The beauty of pulse surveys is that they are easy to implement, quick for the survey taker, and can be incredibly powerful in proactively understanding what it is happening as it is happening rather than waiting for the annual survey. Just-in-time, strategic, and actionable. Time to pulse!

How do you leverage pulse surveys in your organization?

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