What Does a Employee Pulse Program Look Like?

3 min read
Given that a pulse survey can focus on any topic that’s important to the organisation, there are no strict rules to what your pulse program needs to look like. With that said, there are best principles that will apply to any good pulse survey program.

As with most types of employee feedback, there are three main stages in a pulse:

  • Stage 1 – Collecting feedback from employees
  • Stage 2 – Reviewing the data
  • Stage 3 – Communicating the data and acting where appropriate

For an annual engagement survey, this can all happen over one year across an entire organisation.

For Pulse, this is a smaller loop, and typically happens at a smaller scale (i.e., within smaller workgroups) and more frequently.

We call this the ‘operating rhythm’ for Pulse. This operating rhythm is important for an organisation to build as a core part of their pulse program. Most organisations will have an operating rhythm of some sort in place already.

It might be a quarterly sales cycle, or the monthly reporting of results. Key to long-term pulse success is integrating the rhythm of the pulse into the existing rhythm of the organisation.

Over time, this allows it to feel part of business-as-usual for employees, rather than a random survey event that is unexpected. Creating a good operating rhythm with a pulse program will also help avoid survey fatigue.

Building a good operating rhythm means being consistent in timing of all stages of your survey. An example of a monthly operating rhythm is below:

Does a Monthly Pulse Survey Mean That Action Has to Be Taken Every Month?

In reality, it’s impractical for most organisations to act on and make organisational changes on a monthly basis. But at the same time, without any post-survey activity at all, there is a real danger of the survey losing impact (and therefore responses) over time.

Employees may not expect that all their feedback is acted on every time. But what they will expect is that their feedback is listened to, acknowledged, and that recurring themes are addressed in time.

So each pulse, you should be prepared to:

  • Review the results
  • Interpret the results
  • Communicate those results with your employees

In line with this, if something comes up that is an ‘alarm bell’ (e.g., a large dip in engagement that you can attribute to something internally) you should be prepared to arrange an intervention for employees.

If you don’t feel there are resources or an owner to review and communicate pulse results each period (whether centrally or owned throughout the organisation) you might want to reconsider whether pulse is the right option for you.

Some organisations even automatically publish a high-level view of pulse results internally, so employees can view the results themselves.

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