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Why You Should Be Using Employee Pulse Surveys

Learn why pulse surveys are so important to your employee engagement strategy, and find tips on how to launch one yourself.

Georgette Eva
Jan 05, 20227 minutes
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From adapting to remote or hybrid environments, combating burnout with wellness programs, or adopting new core values, change seems to be the only constant for teams these days. But do you know how your employees are embracing those new values? Or if your team’s transition to remote working is going smoothly? How are you tracking whether your employee engagement solutions are solving anything?

As your organization launches new programs or big changes, it’s important to track whether your action plans are resonating with the team at large, and employee pulse surveying is a great tool to help. Using pulse surveys you can track whether you’re moving the needle in the right direction for your engagement strategy, while boosting employee engagement too.

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Read on to see why pulse surveys are so important to your strategy, and find tips on how to launch one yourself.

What Are Pulse Surveys?

Similar to the traditional employee sentiment surveys, pulse surveying is a tool to gather anonymous feedback from your organization but pulse surveys are shorter in length, occur in real-time, and can be more targeted around employee engagement solutions.

How to use a Pulse Survey

Pulse surveys are usually used throughout the year to complement the annual engagement survey HR teams send out. And you can use pulse surveys to probe into certain workplace themes like wellness, learning and development programing, and more.

But the overall goal of the pulse survey is to inform your organizations’ next steps and improve upcoming plans or communication. Think of it as an ongoing dialog with your team.

Think of an employee pulse survey as an ongoing dialog with your team.

How Are Pulse Surveys Different from Your Annual Survey?

Your organization’s annual or bi-annual sentiment surveys create your baseline for the year. Feedback and data from these more in-depth surveys will help your HR team discover opportunities in your engagement strategy as a whole. Pulse surveys go out throughout the year and probe surrounding specific themes or changes to see how your team’s adapting. They enable you to keep a pulse on employee sentiment!

What Questions Do You Use on a Pulse Survey?

Questions vary depending on what you’re tracking progress on, but pulse surveys usually use the likert scale (a scale of 1-6 with 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree) and a few open ended questions at the end for confidential feedback.

Here are some examples of sentiment questions you could use in a pulse survey:

  • I would recommend [Company] as a great place to work

  • The leaders at [Company] keep people informed about what is happening.

  • I understand our company core values and feel they are ingrained in the company culture.

  • I receive appropriate recognition when I do good work.

And pulse survey questions for onboarding or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programming might be more focused.

The Benefits of Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys are a strategic way to iterate on changes in your organization, while keeping employees involved. Using pulse surveys can have many benefits for your team including:

  • Empowers Employees - Employees feel heard when they see their feedback is being taken seriously. And pulse surveys help you create an evolving dialog that shows that you’re listening.

  • Targets the Right People - Think of your pulse survey as a way to have an in-depth conversation with your team. You can utilize pulse surveys to discover what employee resource groups (ERGs) you’ll need to launch or what engagement solutions are most important to different sets of people, different departments, or different levels.

  • Boosts Engagement - Pulse surveys can complement your annual sentiment survey or overarching goals, like launching a new wellness program or return-to-work plan. More importantly, pulse surveys keep your employees' feedback the driving force behind any change, giving them automatic buy-in and involvement.

  • Tracks Ongoing Changes - Pulse surveys are also a great way to track progress with ongoing solutions within your organization, like return-to-work initiatives or launching diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. With many programs, there’s no true one-size solution, so continuing to pulse sentiment will help keep employees involved and ensure you’re tracking towards success.

How to Launch a Pulse Survey

Your pulse survey strategy should consider your organization’s needs and ongoing goals, because while concise, the pulse survey is a tool you should implement thoughtfully to build trust and gather feedback only when needed.

Set your purpose

Before you send any survey out it’s important to understand what you want to accomplish and what information you’re looking for. To ensure you don’t over-survey, consider whether you can get the information without a survey at all or brainstorm what questions you’d likely include with what audience.

Before you send any survey out it’s important to understand what you want to accomplish and what information you’re looking for.

Set objectives and expectations

Clearly understanding your objectives will ensure you don’t send out unnecessary pulse surveys. What are you looking to measure? How will the results be used? And do you have the resources to take action? Then, communicate to the broader organization about what they can expect in regards to timing and how you'll track progress.

Select your audience

Thoughtful planning will ensure you get the best results for your needs. Ask yourself whether the whole company should receive this or a certain department. Maybe this is only for managers or new hires. This is a powerful way to get the right people involved in your next steps, and ensures you’re getting the right perspective from those directly impacted.

Set frequency

Remember, it’s easy to create and launch a pulse survey, but you want to be thoughtful and make sure you can act on the results. This will help you determine your frequency and safeguard you from sending out too many.

Find the Right Tools

There are a variety of tools you can utilize to help you send out and track pulse surveys. The right tool will make it easier for you to target the right audience, communicate instructions, or even send out reminders.

You can host a pulse survey yourself with services like Survey Monkey or Google Forms. Just be sure to communicate the confidentiality of responses so employees feel comfortable to share their feedback. You’ll then be able to review results using excel or Google Sheets. You can also work with employee engagement experts at the Cooleaf platform, where team leaders can easily create and send out incentivized pulse surveys to encourage responses via the app. Managers can also target teams, departments, or the entire organization and send along reminder nudges to employees. Responses are all anonymous but visual dashboards and help from an engagement expert make tracking feedback and discovering opportunities much easier.

Communicating results is a big way to build trust with your employees.

It’s all up to you how you release your survey, as long as you’re able to gather the most results and set up an actionable plan.

What to Do with Results

Communicating results is a big way to build trust with your employees. Employees like feeling “in the know” and this helps build your team culture. After all, engagement and building company culture takes everyone — not just management or the leadership team. Sharing next steps, and including ways that each and every employee can help move the needle, shows that your team’s feedback truly matters and encourages participation in further surveys.

The main rule of thumb with any survey is to turn your insights into action. Evaluate the results, share the findings, create a plan, and get started. Remember, each pulse survey is a step to learning more about your people and what they need to make your organization a success.


Georgette Eva is a writer and marketer at employee engagement solution Cooleaf. Cooleaf helps organizations grow a positive company culture through recognition and rewards, pulse surveys, and team-building challenges and events, all in one platform.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.