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How to Create Brilliant HR Surveys Your Employees Won’t Be Able to Ignore

by | Aug 1, 2016

Create Brilliant HR Surveys

As an HR Director, part of the job is understanding:

  1. Why people want to work for your company?
  2. What’s going to motivate employees to do their best work?

Why? Because you want your people to be engaged on the job. More importantly, you want to keep them constantly engaged because it’s excellent for business.

But how do you do that? Is more money the answer? After all, who doesn’t love a raise? Getting one makes people smile; it gives them some pep, some energy, some get-up-and-go.

But, over time, that initial “more money” rush fades in the shadow of disengagement. The feeling wears off because it’s superficial to begin with, like cover-up on a black eye: there’s no erasing what’s underneath.

You simply can’t buy true, sustained engagement. You’ll go broke trying. Thankfully, there is a proven engagement strategy: give your employees a sense of purpose.

A sense of purpose is the bedrock of a healthy work environment, as it promotes physical, emotional, and social well-being. And once those variables are in place, engagement will follow.

Of course, in order to do all that, you have to understand your people on a personal level. What are their ambitions? What motivates them? If they could change anything, what would it be?

Do you know the answers to these questions? Do you really know?

If not, there’s a way to find out…

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Enter: “Pulse” Surveys.

Put your hand on your heart.

You’ve felt that sensation a thousand times: the beat is quick, consistent. It’s always with you, working for you.

That’s where “Pulse” surveys get their name.

Unlike long, tedious, traditional employee satisfaction surveys that are circulated every six months or even annually, pulse surveys are snappy—a few questions each—and occur on a weekly basis. Maybe every other week.

The short time commitment makes pulse surveys approachable, easy, and satisfying, which drives unprecedented participation. Their limited questions, meanwhile, give HR departments something specific to focus on—and that makes implementing changes a more straightforward process.

That’s the gist, but let’s break down the benefits even more…

Why “Pulse” Surveys?

Why Pulse Surveys

HR departments can’t afford not to conduct these things…

Too much value is at stake. Value that will benefit your employees and, in turn, your company. For example:

  1. The information you get is accurate and honest.
    Surveys, in general, are reliable sources of information because they mine the knowledge and experience of those closest to your business: salaried employees. Pulse surveys, specifically, are so quick and simple to fill out that there’s little opportunity for fatigue, impatience, or any other negative variable that’s typically associated with their long, annual counterparts. This ensures the quality and accuracy of the collected data.
  2. The ROI is remarkable.
    Pulse surveys are ultra-specific. They typically zero-in on one particular topic or issue. This makes them potent sources of information, especially considering how little time it takes to create one. Unlike traditional surveys, which can take days or even weeks to craft, pulse surveys help HR departments focus and, in turn, deliver change in a fraction of the time.
  3. It casts a halo around your organization.
    Consistently engaging your employees with smart, relevant questions that make them feel involved in the company’s evolution will boost morale, especially if their feedback is acted upon.This will translate to more positive reviews on corporate transparency sites like, which can lead to a flood of quality talent.

Those are some of the benefits…

Now, here’s how to create one:

How to create a pulse survey

First thing’s first: you’re going to need a tool to collect information.

A fast, easy, and reliable option is Google Forms—but there are plenty more to choose from.

Once that is set up, you can begin crafting your survey using the following best practices. Be sure to:

  1. Keep it clear.
    Introduce pulse surveys to your organization with a clear and concise explanation, one that highlights what they are and why they’re being used. Most importantly, explain how implementing pulse surveys will bring about more change, more often.
  2. Keep it comfortable.
    Ditch the corporate tone for a something lighter. These are your people, after all, so use contractions, simple words, and short sentences. Doing so will make your surveys effortless to read — and easier to complete.
  3. Keep it anonymous.
    You’ll only get honest answers if people trust that their input will remain confidential or, better yet, anonymous. Make it clear that this is, in fact, the case.
  4. Keep it employee-centric.
    Ask questions your employees see themselves in. Questions that pertain to them as individuals. Questions that impact their daily routines or their work-life balance. Most people will gladly contribute if they can envision the benefits of their input.
  5. Keep it short.
    Very short: two or three questions; four or five tops. Perhaps throw in a single-question survey from time to time. In any case, you want the whole thing to take a few minutes or even seconds to complete. Think quality over quantity. This will break down the barrier to entry, ensuring that you drive maximum engagement.
  6. Keep it relevant.
    People are more likely to answer questions that relate directly to their work environment and circumstances. Therefore, it might make sense to segment your pulse surveys by department or, if enough people hold the same title, even role.
  7. Keep it transparent.
    Share the anonymous results with everyone in the company—not only the leadership team. For each survey you conduct, be sure to send out a follow-up email to the participants summarizing the feedback as well as the resulting actions.
  8. Keep it coming.
    Create a rhythm. Get your employees accustomed to seeing pulse surveys in their inbox. Being consistent—with the surveys and the actions—will compel people to incorporate the process into their routines because they’ve been conditioned to take the process seriously.

Workforce Management for the HR Leader’s SoulWorkforce Management for the HR Leader’s Soul

This book will help you create a healthy, rewarding environment for the people that keep your company moving forward.

Most people will gladly contribute
if they can envision the benefits of their input.

And here’s what to do with your results:

First of all, great work. You’ve followed the best practices listed above, ensuring that people actual participate in your survey. That’s no small feat—and now you can look forward to honing this new craft.

That said, you’re also not quite done yet. You have a few more critical steps:

  1. Be courageous.
    Pushing out a survey is asking for criticism. It’s asking to be told what’s wrong with the establishment you’ve had a hand in building and maintaining. In that way, the process can be challenging for leaders. But that’s the point: surveys are intended to make us think and reevaluate. Don’t forget that.
  2. Commit yourself to quick action.
    Remember: it doesn’t have to be costly or groundbreaking. It just has to make a positive difference, however small. The point, then, is to demonstrate to employees that their opinions matter and that their voices can and will bring about change. If you’re not prepared to change something based on a question, don’t even bother putting it out there.
  3. Communicate changes simply, clearly.
    Carry the casual tone you use in surveys into your follow-up communications. Be clear, honest, and transparent. People will appreciate that.
  4. Compare and contrast.
    In other words, measure your progress as it relates to a specific issue. Whether it’s trivial (i.e., “Rate our free kitchen snacks: 1 – 10”) or crucial (i.e., “Rate how safe you feel at work: 1 – 10”), you should be tracking the results of your efforts over time.

Still not sold on “Pulse” Surveys?

In that case, let’s circle back and take a closer look at one of the main benefits they bring: a sense of purpose among employees, which then translates into sustained engagement.

According to research by Gallup, organizations with engaged employees deliver:


Higher Profits


Higher Sales


Higher Customer Loyalty


Above Average Productivity

Engage Your People

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Workforce Management Software.

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