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Key questions to ask when setting up an employee pulse program

4 min read
If you’re thinking about running an employee pulse survey, here’s 5 key questions to ask yourself before you get started to help design your program

1. What am I trying to achieve?

Setting a clear purpose before beginning any program is often overlooked, but so critical, and pulse surveys are no exception. It’s tempting to throw in ‘interesting’ pulse items with no defined goal, but these can detract from the success of your program and send mixed messages to employees.

Setting clear objectives is how to ensure your program will remain targeted and impactful. We strongly recommend aligning these objectives to a business KPI or desired outcome so you can demonstrate the impact on the organisation.

Ultimately, any pulse survey program will want to result in positive change – so be clear on the outcomes you want so you can focus on asking questions that will drive those improvements.

Common organisational goals and business KPIs include:

Goal Organisational KPIs
Reduce attrition Quarterly stats on turnover rates per business units
Improve the customer experience Monthly customer NPS scores for all stores in a region
Issue resolution time for a call centre
Improve sales productivity Revenue per rep closed per quarter
Reduce safety incidents No of incidents reported per month or per day

2. What topics do I need to include to measure those goals?

Once you’ve defined your purpose, you can move on to understanding which topics you need to measure to achieve your goals.

The questions you ask should be deliberate and tie back to your goal. For example, if you want to improve customer focus in the organisation, your question set should centre on this. Avoid the temptation to throw in additional items, as you can quickly lose focus – consider an adhoc survey for one-off items.

If the goal of your pulse is simply to improve Engagement (although we would still generally recommend having a ‘hard’ business metric to align to Engagement) and is therefore a longitudinal Pulse (ie a pulse that replaces your annual engagement survey).

3. Who needs to see feedback data on those topics?

Once you know the objective of your pulse, and the topics you are going to focus on as a result, you can turn your attention to the people who need to receive the data. These recipients are the , people in the organisation who are able to take action and drive improvements off the back of the pulse, tying back to your goals. Reporting varies from one organisation to the next, although typically pulse results report to a higher managerial level than engagement surveys.

4. Who needs to give feedback on those topics?

You should also consider which employees are best placed to give feedback on what you want to measure – everyone, or just a specific group? The most common respondent groups are:

  • All employees
  • Frontline or customer-facing employees only
  • Specific teams or departments in the organisation
  • A sample of employees – see more: sampling on employee pulse surveys

5. How often will I need to gather fresh data?

Think beyond your first pulse survey – to be successful and to maintain engagement from employees, you need to make sure you’re reviewing results, getting back to employees and potentially taking action between each survey. So ask yourself how long will report recipients need to receive, review and communicate on the data when it comes in?

It’s important to also ask yourself how frequently your pulse feedback is likely to change. If you are asking about a ‘slower-moving’ topic (e.g. asking about a long-established process) then it may be unlikely that the responses will change from month to month, and quarterly or bi-annually may be more appropriate. It’s worth noting that the same topic may change at a slower or faster pace for different organisations, depending on their maturity and pace.

Once you’ve considered these 5 key questions, then you can ask:

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