In this article, we will learn about what pulse surveys are, why they are beneficial to an organisation and what type of questions should be included for gathering maximum information.
Gone are the days when managers would check in on their employees once a year. Nowadays, it’s very important for leaders to keep up to date with their subordinates, not just for project deliverables but also for understanding their emotional and mental well-being, since understanding an employee’s frame of mind is the key to employee retention and business growth.
One of the things that businesses use to understand employees’ mindsets are pulse surveys. These are brief surveys conducted by companies on a regular basis. They usually consist of a few questions and checklists designed to understand employees’ views on topics such as work environment, manager communication, position-related workload, etc.
Pulse surveys have started becoming an organisational must-have. Companies can conduct generalised as well as topic-specific pulse surveys. For example, suppose you need to understand your employees’ feedback on a new HR policy you implemented. In that case, you can conduct a pulse survey and gather their response in real time.
Pulse surveys are typically shorter and more contextual than annual surveys. This is important, as most employees fill longer feedback forms with a “let me just get this over with” attitude. They are also conducted more regularly than annual surveys. Moreover, the cost of engaging remote employees through pulse surveys is very low compared to other employee engagement methods.
Let’s have a look at why pulse surveys are beneficial for you to boost remote team engagement.
Employees who are connected to the overall business tend to overachieve and outperform those who are there just for their job. This is especially important for remote teams, where managers can’t physically see their employees and hence can only judge their productivity by the amount of work done.
Pulse surveys can work wonders by providing employers with honest feedback on the work environment. It also helps reduce skewed perceptions, which can cause long-term productivity problems and timeline prediction issues.
Pulse surveys help employers figure out the exact pain points of their employees and understand the underlying causes of project delays. Employees who are happy with their jobs face less work-related stress and are bound to take fewer sick days. This helps managers reduce problems such as arbitrary sick leaves and unproductive days, which increase the project cost and delay deadlines.
Managers can also use it to spot any issues with the misalignment of expectations or employee burnout. This also improves the employee turnover rate, as there is a direct correlation between employee happiness and employee retention.
Investing in employee satisfaction and creating an employee-friendly brand is a surefire way of building a sustainable business and boost remote team engagement. It helps make your business an attractive workplace, and attractive workplaces attract high-quality talent.
Pulse surveys aid this by improving employee engagement and communication. It acts as a medium between the employer and the employee and helps carry an employee’s voice to the management.
This is important since happy employees become brand ambassadors of their business. In a world where remote working is the norm, praise from a personal account on your socials is a much better brand endorsement than your own marketing and PR announcements.
Anonymous contribution toward growth
Pulse surveys give employees a safe place to voice their thoughts. It helps them express their opinions to the management without fear of repercussions. This is especially useful in a remote setting, where such issues might not be obvious or visible to managers.
Pulse surveys allow management to understand the unique challenges remote workers face. Furthermore, it helps them take the pulse of a distributed team by getting into the mentality of an employee sitting at home.
Through this survey, management can discreetly gain valuable employee insights. They can then make organisational changes and policies to fix issues. In addition, many issues that are not revealed in day-to-day conversations can be identified via pulse surveys.
Quickly understand the cause and effect
Pulse surveys help management understand the effect of new organisational changes/directives in real time. This can be difficult to measure in a remote setting since you cannot physically see the effect of your policy on employee satisfaction and motivation. It can also help spark conversations on difficult topics and allow introverted employees to voice their opinions.
What’s more, employers can use pulse surveys to identify project issues and get developer feedback on the final product. This is a lifesaver since running focus groups on a remote team can be challenging and time-consuming.
How do you design pulse surveys?
Pulse surveys are an important way to gauge an employee’s mindset and collect relevant feedback. However, framing these questions can be tricky since organisations don’t want to come across as intrusive.
Your questions should be open-ended, meaningful, and simple to answer. You should also try to avoid open-ended questions, as it’s hard to understand employee psychology with them. They are also difficult to answer, which is why many employees leave them while responding to pulse surveys.
Let’s have a look at how employers should frame pulse questions while maintaining their impact.
One of the major things that companies like to survey is manager effectiveness and leadership skills. Just like a leader is responsible for understanding the business objectives and driving a service strategy, he is also responsible for ensuring the well-being of his team and listening to their perspectives.
Companies should ask the following questions to their employees regarding manager effectiveness.
- Do you feel that your leader is transparent in his decisions?
- How satisfied are you with subordinate engagement? Is your manager reasonably accessible to you?
- Do you feel you are treated daily and respectfully?
Many employees today emphasise diversity and cultural sensitivity. They also want their employers to speak about it openly.
Companies should ask these diversity-based questions in the pulse surveys.
- Do you think our organisation’s culture is diverse enough?
- Do you think employees of diverse groups feel safe in the company?
- Do you want to report any incident where you or anyone you know felt unsafe?
Compensation and benefits
This can be a tricky topic to navigate. Even though managers want to encourage new employees to join the organisation while keeping their existing employees satisfied, topics like compensation details and benefit information can be sensitive.
That’s why companies use pulse surveys to collect employees’ views on this topic. They also gather information about their opinion and understanding of provided benefits. Here are a couple of questions that can help managers understand what employers want from the organisation (in terms of benefits).
- On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your current compensation structure and benefit plans?
- Do you fully understand the benefits provided by the company? If not, what don’t you understand?
- Is there any feasible benefit that you want from your organisation?
- Do you feel that your annual ratings and metrics justify your performance? Anything you would like to change?
- Does your current benefits plan incentivise you?
Work from home
This is a common query among business owners who want their employees to return to the office. Many employees nowadays want a hybrid job, whereas managers want employees to return full-time to the office.
Pulse surveys can be a great way to understand this thought trend and understand what exactly employees want in terms of work-from-home advantage. Here are some questions human resources can ask the employees on this topic.
- Do you think remote working affects your productivity?
- Do you feel that the organisation should shift toward a full work-from-home arrangement, or should they continue with a hybrid one? If you choose a hybrid option, should employees have to spend a minimum number of days in the office?
- Did you feel supported in your transition to work-from-homer during COVID-19? Did you feel that your organisation was able to handle the transition smoothly?
- Did you feel connected to team members during COVID-19?
- Is there any remote working policy that needs to be updated?
Many employees change organisations because they don’t see a future there. Moreover, in today’s era, you need to constantly upskill yourself to survive in the tech market. Often, the best way to generate new skills is to work on new projects. However, when employers don’t get that opportunity in the organisation, they tend to leave it.
This can be problematic for the organisation, which has spent countless hours training that employee. Furthermore, there is a huge cost associated with employee hiring and knowledge transfer, due to which employers want employees to stay in the organisation as long as possible. Therefore, here are some of the questions employers can ask their employees to gauge their professional goals.
- Do you feel that you will still be working here after five years? If not, why?
- Do you feel that the organisation has adequately supported your professional journey? Do you feel that your professional goals align with the organisational goal?
- Do you feel that you get to work on new tasks and technologies?
Effort recognition improves employee confidence and boosts productivity. It also attracts top talent and improves personal growth since people like to be recognised among their peers.
A good recognition effort should be public and instantaneous. Here are some questions leaders should ask their subordinates about recognition and appreciation.
- Do you feel adequately recognised for your role and contribution to the project?
- Do you understand what the exact traits that are recognised in the organisation are? Do you feel you exhibit those traits?
- Do you feel included in your team’s success?
- For individual achievement, do you feel everyone has a fair chance to be recognised and appreciated?
So how should leaders respond to pulse surveys?
Pulse surveys are an amazing tool for leaders to boost remote team engagement, as well as understand their teams and gather feedback. But reciprocation is also necessary. Any leader who conducts a pulse survey needs to acknowledge the results and be transparent about them. This lets the employees know that their ideas are appreciated and valued. This is even more important for distributed teams since remote working often lacks social communication.
Once they know the outcome of the pulse survey, it’s a leader’s responsibility to follow through on the feedback. They need to create a solid plan of action to incorporate the advice/suggestions received by their team and then use them to create an execution blueprint. This will improve employee engagement, as they’ll see that their suggestions are put to use.
For best results, leaders should perform these tests on a bimonthly or quarterly basis. The results should also be shared and reviewed regularly so that any changes in the team mentality can be monitored. Making incremental changes to employee policies is better than doing changes on an annual basis, as too many changes can overwhelm the team and stop progress.
This article touches the understanding of pulse surveys and then goes into the details of why pulse surveys are beneficial to any organisation and how they can boost remote team engagement. It also links to why pulse surveys are tricky to do perfectly and which questions you should ask your team for gathering maximum relevant data. Finally the article touches on the leader’s responsibility towards pulse surveys responses.
About the Author
Chris Taylor is a Business Development Manager at BairesDev, in charge of improving and growing relationships with customers, suppliers, and other partners. His knack for strategic planning makes him a great team leader with valuable reach across all areas of the business.