pulse surveys

Your guide to understanding and getting started with company pulse surveys.

Pulse surveys are a great way to collect valuable ongoing feedback from your company’s workforce. Pulse surveys are quite different from a typical annual engagement or employee survey. They are highly focused, usually very brief, and are designed to monitor changes to a particular aspect of an organization over time. Traditional surveys are a way to probe at every factor contributing to employee engagement, whereas pulse surveys are a more high-level and real-time assessment of perceptions that can affect the company – hence the term ‘pulse’. The results are displayed over time to reveal trends in employee engagement or perceptions – allowing company leaders to confirm or deploy positive changes.


Why Pulse Surveys?

American Business Magazine posted an article stating that employees who identified themselves as happy in their positions are productive 80 percent of the time at work. Comparatively, employees who identified themselves as unhappy were only productive 40 percent of the time. Bottom line – the way employees feel and how they perceive the company has a major impact on company production and profit. As such, it’s important to stay on top of these critical factors and pulse surveys are an easy way to do this.


The Benefits of Pulse Surveys:

  • Real-time feedback on topics of interest like satisfaction, engagement, safety, customer service etc.
  • Frequent polling of employees on a particular topic has been shown to increase awareness and help formulate positive habits
  • Companies can uncover improvement opportunities through monitoring and analyzing employee change over time
  • Reinforcement of a company’s commitment to employee satisfaction
  • Employees can easily access an outlet for feedback
  • Thanks to secure online survey tools, they are easy to administer
  • Employees can quickly complete the surveys typically containing 2-10 questions


What’s Asked In a Pulse Survey?

The questions and focus of a pulse survey will depend on your company’s unique priorities and long-term strategy. Proper planning is critical and requires the time and thought from multiple sources including HR, executives, and managers. We recommend working backwards from your company’s objectives, vision, and mission, to determine what conclusions you want to draw from the answers. From there, you can formulate questions to gather and diagnose.

For instance, if your company recently went through a merger, you may want to know the impact it has on company perception and employee team dynamics. Having this merger as the focus of your questions may lead to useful insights that could help your organization make changes accordingly. Similarly, if your company relies on a small, highly skilled workforce, satisfaction and retention may likely be the biggest priority. Hence, questions geared towards assessing those factors would be ideal. If your company is aiming to attract and retain a younger talent-base, pulse surveys might be geared towards diagnosing gaps in perceived culture.

A pulse survey should attempt to diagnose the health of 2-3 issues of interest:

Company Reputation Team Dynamics Employee Safety Customer Service
Employee Satisfaction Culture Employee Work Environment Effects of Change
Retention Succession Process Optimization Resource Availability
Performance Roadblocks Goal Attainment Bandwidth and Time Management


How Long Should A Pulse Survey Be?

Pulse surveys should be as short as possible to encourage regular participation and completion. If employees come to dread filling them out, they will not participate or worse, will rush through them without thought.

There is no set number or types of questions that should be asked in pulse surveys; however, a good rule of thumb is to limit the time it takes for an employee to complete a survey to 2-3 minutes. This is why focusing and balancing the questions is so critical. We often recommend that once clients come up with a set of questions, to get rid of half of them. For instance, if you are asking employees for their feedback on a new phone system that cannot be altered due to a 3-year contract, maybe those answers won’t be able to effect change. If you plan to ask open-ended questions requiring time and thought, balance it out with multiple choice or true/false questions.


How Often Should Pulse Surveys Be Sent Out?

The frequency of the surveys depends on your organization as well as the the focus of the survey and on how often or quickly changes will come about.

For example, if the survey is asking about a major company event, it might take 3-6 months for any changes to be steeped. There is no sense asking about the effects until they are felt.

Culture Amp recommends that you should only send out pulse surveys at about the same rate that you believe meaningful change might occur because there is little value in checking in with people before change occurs or is perceived by employees. This doesn’t mean you can’t survey different people or on different topics more regularly, but you should avoid asking individuals the same things at intervals too small for change to be apparent. It can be difficult to specify an interval, since it depends on what you’re surveying about. If the questions are about major culture changes, we might wait at least three months, but if you’re asking about a targeted behavioral change initiative (e.g., ‘meeting effectiveness’) then monthly (or less) may be appropriate(1).


Sample Pulse Survey Questions

Here are several of our own great pulse survey sample questions, as well as some from www.fridayfeedback.com. Again, pick a few for each survey to keep it as short as possible(3).

Employee Goals/Performance:

  • Were you able to achieve your goals this week/month/quarter?
  • Was there anything that prevented you from achieving your goals or accomplishing your work?
  • What’s one thing the company or your manager can do to make your work more productive?
  • How excited are you about the current projects you’re working on?

Employee Satisfaction

  • How happy are you at work?
  • Do you have what you need to be successful?
  • What was the best part of your week?
  • What was the worst part of your week?
  • What’s one employee perk you wish you had?

Company Values and Direction:

  • Are our company values clear?
  • Do you think we are heading in the right direction as a company? Why? Why not?
  • What’s one small change you would make to how we work as a company?
  • What’s one big change you would make to how we work as a company?
  • What part of the business would you like to see us improve?
  • Have any company changes affected your working environment in a positive or negative way?
  • Does the company support your career and personal development?

Company Culture:

  • Would you recommend a friend to work for this company?
  • Why would/wouldn’t you recommend the company to a friend?
  • What’s one thing we can do to improve our company culture?

Team Dynamic/Recognition:

  • What’s one thing we could do to improve communication as a team?
  • Do you feel that overall, your team members pull their weight in projects/tasks?
  • Is there anything preventing your team from working together effectively?
  • Does your department encourage teamwork?
  • Are work assignments distributed fairly?
  • Is there anyone who deserves special recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty?
  • Do you feel you deserve recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty?

If you would like help launching effective pulse surveys in your organization, contact us to learn about emPerform’s eSurvey module – included as part of our all-inclusive employee performance management software.



1Pulse Survey FAQ’s Culture AMP https://academy.cultureamp.com/hc/en-us/articles/204529939-Pulse-Surveys-FAQs

2Happy Bosses + Happy employees = More Profits By Mary Hladio. American Business Magazine October 4, 2013 https://www.americanbusinessmag.com/2013/10/happy-bosses-plus-happy-employees-equal-more-profits/

3Pulse Survey Sample Questions Friday Feedback https://www.friday.app/p/pulse-survey-sample-questions