12 powerful pulse survey questions to boost employee engagement

12 powerful pulse survey questions to boost employee engagement

Introduction

Pulse surveys are a great way to get under the skin of your organization. They give insight into employees’ experiences, attitudes, and feelings while benefiting from being completely anonymous.

By collecting employee data regularly, you can identify trends in employee engagement and sculpt your business to be a great workplace. However, with so many questions you could ask, how do you design a pulse survey that is fair and balanced to the needs of employees but provides the level of business insight you require?

In this blog post, we explore pulse surveys, how they can improve employee engagement, and include employee surveys examples. We also discuss employee surveys best practices, and clarify how you should design your businesses’ pulse surveys for maximum impact. 

What Is A Pulse Survey?

Pulse surveys are regular and anonymous surveys taken by employees throughout the year. These surveys are taken regularly (for example, once a quarter) and ask questions about their health, happiness, work ethic, and engagement levels. 

Pulse surveys are the perfect opportunity for employees to be honest about how they feel in the workplace. They can express any complaints or concerns in these surveys. Managers can use the collected data to measure productivity, work-life balance, and overall workplace happiness. 

These surveys are typically designed to be quick and easy to complete. The information from these surveys help make informed decisions about improving team performance and well-being. 

Why Hold A Pulse Survey?

There are many benefits to holding regular pulse surveys. These include the following:

  • Measure employees’ engagement levels. Pulse surveys give you a real-time update on how employees are feeling. If engagement levels have been high for months and suddenly dip, holding a pulse survey is a great way to understand why. 
  • Identify workplace issues. Pulse surveys can help you quickly identify and resolve workplace issues before they fester and become a bigger problem. For example, a pulse survey can help you identify signs of workplace stress in a team or department. You can use this information to solve the problem before those issues fester and become high-level, recurring team absences. 
  • Gather feedback on initiatives. Employees may not want to tell managers face-to-face that they don’t like a new initiative for fear of repercussions. However, an anonymous pulse survey does not carry that same fear. 
  • Assess management and leadership. A pulse survey can help you gauge your managers’ technical skill level and soft skills. For example, if several members of the same team complain that their manager is unprofessional via a pulse survey, you may need to investigate this matter. 
  • Assessing the impact of external events. Pulse surveys are a great way to understand how your employees feel in their personal lives and can help you put actions in place to support them. For example, if many employees report struggling to cope with current events, you may need to enlist the support of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to support them. 
  • Changes in employee attitudes and morale. Conducting regular pulse surveys helps you create a benchmark against which to compare new employee data. If you notice reduced employee morale or attitudes, a pulse survey can help you understand the cause.

How Pulse Surveys Improve Employee Engagement

According to a study by Gallup, employees who feel heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel engaged in the workplace! Pulse surveys are one way to show your employees you are listening to them. 

Listening to employees’ options makes them feel appreciated, builds workplace culture, and increases corporate citizenship. Pulse surveys are an excellent opportunity to ask employees for feedback, collate that information, and make data-driven decisions to improve employees’ work days. In addition, employees can use pulse surveys to make their ideas known and feel heard by their managers.

From the feedback given, managers can draw up an action plan of the most commonly discussed points and make positive changes based on that data. Once these decisions have been made, it is important to communicate the changes back to your employees so they can see their positive impact. Did you know businesses that act on employee feedback experience a turnover rate 14.9% lower than the national average?

Pulse surveys are a great opportunity for managers to understand what changes must be made. However, they can also help leaders to spot early signs of stress, disengagement, or dissatisfaction in the workplace. Regular pulse surveys can help you ride the ebbs and flows of employee engagement and remedy any small issues before they become big problems. 

Pulse survey action items to achieve better results

Employee Pulse Survey Design

When designing a pulse survey, it’s essential to consider what information you hope to gain. There are hundreds of employee survey templates online. However, not all of them will be suitable for you. 

Finding questions tailored to your company’s needs, industry, economy, and employees is vital. Simply using convenient questions without a clear framework is unlikely to be effective. In fact, creating a recurring survey with invalid questions could result in inaccurate or unusable data! 

Tailor your questions to your company’s priorities, workplace culture, and desired outcomes.  

Start by asking yourself, “What does employee engagement mean to our business, and how can we measure it effectively?

So, how do you design an effective employee pulse survey? We’ve included a handy guide below, some examples of employee surveys and best practices. Let’s dive in! 

Use engagement models 

Creating an effective engagement survey requires a deep understanding of employee engagement drivers, experience in survey design, and data analysis skills. A tried-and-tested engagement model is an excellent place to start if you’re unsure where to begin.

Employee engagement models are theoretical frameworks used by organizations to understand, measure, and improve employee engagement. They are usually based on academic models. However, they have been used for many years in the business world. Structured engagement models are often developed and refined over years of research, making them more reliable and accurate than ad-hoc metrics.

Using structured engagement models is a great way to benchmark your organization against others in your area or business niche. This can be difficult to do with an internal survey. In addition, engagement models offer guidance on interpreting results and taking action. This is difficult to do with a self-designed survey or if you’re unfamiliar with engagement survey design.

A structured model is a good starting point. However, it’s important to remember that these models are only templates, and questions should be tailored to meet the needs of your business. 

There are several common engagement models. These are as follows:

  1. Gallup Q12: This model is based on 12 questions developed by Gallup that measure employee engagement in four categories: basic needs, management support, team and growth. It's one of the most widely used models for employee engagement.

  2. The Maslow Model: focuses on understanding the different levels of needs that employees have, including physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs. By addressing the needs of employees at each level, organizations can create a work environment that fosters engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.

  3. Hewitt Engagement Model: This model measures engagement through four main areas: employee engagement drivers, employee engagement enablers, leadership effectiveness, and employer brand. It emphasizes the importance of aligning leadership, culture, and strategy to create a highly engaged workforce.

  4. Aon Hewitt Engagement Model: This model focuses on the drivers of engagement, including leadership, people practices, and employee enablement. It emphasizes the importance of building a culture of engagement and empowering employees to drive business success.

  5. BlessingWhite's X Model of Employee Engagement: This model focuses on the intersection of job satisfaction, contribution, and future opportunities. It emphasizes the importance of providing employees with meaningful work, opportunities for growth, and a clear path for career development.

  6. CIPD's Four Enablers of Employee Engagement: This model emphasizes the importance of leadership, employee voice, employee involvement, and organizational integrity in creating a highly engaged workforce.

There are many benefits to using a structured engagement model in your organization. These include the following:

  • Consistency. By using a common set of metrics and approaches, organizations can ensure that engagement is being measured consistently across different departments and teams.

  • Comprehensive. By using a structured model, organizations can ensure that they are measuring all the key factors that contribute to engagement rather than just a few metrics that they think are important.

  • Actionable insights. Engagement models often provide specific recommendations for how to improve engagement based on the results of the assessment. This means that organizations can take targeted actions to improve engagement rather than simply guessing at what might work.

  • Benchmarking. Many engagement models provide benchmarks against which organizations can compare their results. This can help organizations understand how other businesses in their area or niche are performing. This will help businesses contextualize their results. 

We recommend reviewing these models and picking the one that best matches the needs of your business. Use this model as a basis for your engagement survey questions. 

Models are beneficial as a starting point as you can browse example questions, interpretations of each question, and read up on benchmark results.  

Engagement metrics

Another way to design your survey is to include questions that measure engagement indicators. Below are the three most important metrics that measure employees’ engagement.

  1. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). This measures employees' likelihood to recommend their organization as a good place to work. It's calculated by subtracting the percentage of employees who wouldn't recommend their employer from the percentage who would.

    Example questions for eNPS:
  • On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company as a place to work to friends or family?
  • What is the reason for your score?

  1. Employee Satisfaction Score (ESS): This measures employees' overall satisfaction with their job and the organization. It can be measured using a Likert scale, where employees rate their level of agreement with statements about their job satisfaction

    Example questions for ESS:
  • How satisfied are you with your job overall?
  • How satisfied are you with the opportunities for growth and development in your job?

  1. Employee Engagement Index (EEI): This measures the level of emotional commitment and involvement employees have with their work and the organization. It can be measured using a combination of questions about job satisfaction, motivation, commitment, and overall engagement.

    Example questions for EEI:
  • How committed do you feel to the success of the company?
  • How motivated are you to do your best work every day?
  • How connected do you feel to the mission and values of the company?
  • How likely are you to recommend our company as a great place to work to others?
  • How proud are you to work for our company?


These questions can be tailored to fit the specific needs and culture of each organization. 

It's important to regularly assess and adjust these questions to ensure they accurately measure employee engagement and provide actionable insights for improvement.

Employee Surveys Example Questions

It’s a good idea to use a mixed model for survey questions. Here’s some questions for feedback from employees that you can ask during the quarterly pulse survey.

📍 The evaluation scale we recommend to apply to all the questions: 1- strongly disagree, 2- somewhat disagree, 3- neither agree nor disagree, 4- somewhat agree, 5- strongly agree

Question 1: I am happy at work in general

Why: Although you want employees to be happy at work, it is unrealistic to expect them to be happy every day. Many external factors impact an employee's happiness, most of which you have no control over. However, measuring whether an employee enjoys work indicates their general feeling towards their workplace, colleagues, and job design. This is a good place to start and gives context to the rest of the survey. 

Question 2: I have the materials and equipment I need to succeed in my role. E.g. Hardware, infrastructure, facilities.

Why: It’s important employees have the tools and facilities needed to do their job well. Without this, you cannot expect them to be engaged or achieve their job to a high standard. If many employees from the same department express they do not have the tools required to do their role, you should raise this with their manager or department lead. 

Question 3: I understand what is expected of me at work.

Why: This question can help you gauge your manager’s attitudes and capabilities. It is also important that employees are receiving institutions and communications in a way that is clear and fair.

Question 4: I feel valued at work.

Why: Feeling valued at work ties in with employee engagement and productivity. Employees need to be recognized for their hard work and given regular feedback when things aren’t going so well. This is another indicator of a manager's capabilities and the general communication level within the business. 

Question 5: I have a good work-life balance.

Why: If many employees strongly disagree with this statement, this may be an indicator that your headcount is too low, your workload is too high, or that manager expectations are not reasonable. Other probing questions will help you determine the cause for this. However, this is an important question to ask.

Question 6: I am passionate about the company’s mission.

Why: If employee’s feel passionately about the company’s mission they are more likely to go above and beyond to support the business. It also increases employee engagement, boosts productivity, and improves corporate citizenship when employees feel passionately about the company. If employees do not score this question well, you should consider whether the mission is made clear to employees during their onboarding or whether your mission is still relevant to your business dealings. 

Question 7: My team works well together.

Why: Measuring employee camaraderie and teamwork is an important aspect of pulse surveys. You need to ensure there are no toxic teams, bullying department heads, or worse! This question is a good indicator of the communication levels within the business, how effectively managers handle conflict, and the level of teamwork.

Question 8: I receive regular, constructive feedback from my manager.

Why: Regular feedback helps improve employee performance and boosts engagement. In fact, 82% of employees really appreciate receiving feedback, regardless if it’s positive or negative! Measuring the level of feedback provided to employees ensures teams are supported appropriately, that managers engage with their teams, and shows healthy internal development. 

Question 9: I can see the opportunity to develop at work.

Why: This is another indicator of engagement, internal development, and communication. It’s more cost-effective to develop candidates internally than it is to hire new employees. Therefore, to increase employee retention, it’s crucial that employees can see a career path within your organization. 

Question 10: I feel positively challenged in my role.

Why: 83% of employees with opportunities to take on new challenges say they’re more likely to stay with the organization. Therefore, it’s important your employees experience an appropriate level of challenge in the day job to help them grow beyond their current role. If many employees strongly disagree with this statement, you may need to look at job design or speak with the relevant managers to understand why they feel this way. 

Question 11: I would recommend my place of work to a friend.

Why: This again ties in to Net Promoter Score. You want employees to feel that working at your company would also benefit someone they care about. These shows they consider your business in high regard, have a healthy work-life balance, and are paid well for what they do. 

Question 12: Please fill in any additional feedback you’d like us to consider

*Evaluation scale: [Text Box]

Why: This section is not a scale but is instead an opportunity for employees to provide any general feedback or comments to senior managers. This is one of the most important questions in the survey, as it’s the employee's chance to be honest. 

Employee Surveys Best Practice

Planning an insightful and data-driven pulse survey is the key to achieving great results. Follow our 8 best practice tips to ensure your business gets the most out of this tool.

💪🏻 Tips for effective engagement surveys


🎯 Decide on your goals before the survey.
Identify what kind of feedback you want to gather from this survey and design your questions around that information. For example, if you want to understand how your employees are feeling, fill your pulse survey with questions about stress levels, workplace happiness, and team relationships. 

👌🏼 Keep it short. Focus on 10-15 questions which take no longer than 15 minutes. Any longer than this and you may see an increased abandonment rate. 

💸Incentivise completion. Make it beneficial for your employees to complete the survey. For example, you could offer them a gift card, early finish, or other reward for completing the survey in a timely manner. 

🔄 Mix up question types. Keep the survey interesting by using numerical, text-based, and picture questions.

🕵️‍♀️ Decide whether to keep them anonymous. The majority of companies keep their employee pulse surveys anonymous. If you ask employees to provide their names, they may not be as forthcoming with negative feedback for fear of repercussions.

📆 Make the surveys regular. Quarterly or every 6 months is recommended. Every month is too frequent and annually is not frequent enough!

🧪 Test before you go.  Send surveys to a small group of employees to ensure that the questions are clear, easy to understand, and relevant. Ask employees for feedback on the survey and act on it before general release.

📊 Analyze results. Inform stakeholders, make decisions based on the data, and then take action!

🚀Use automation tools. This will streamline your data analysis process and save you precious time!

The Bottom Line On Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys are a great way to gather productive, honest, and real-time employee feedback. These surveys are typically short, frequent, and targeted. They usually include 10-15 questions designed to be completed during the work day. 

Pulse surveys allow organizations to quickly identify trends and areas of concern and take action to address them in real-time. They also provide a more accurate picture of employee engagement, as they capture feedback regularly rather than once a year.

Pulse surveys can cover a range of topics, from overall job satisfaction to specific issues like communication, work-life balance, and opportunities for growth and development. They can be conducted through various channels, including email, mobile apps, and web-based platforms.

Organizations should be transparent about the purpose of the surveys and how the feedback will be used. They should also ensure the surveys are anonymous and confidential, so employees feel comfortable providing honest feedback.

Dariia Voiedilova-Lisovyk

Dariia Voiedilova-Lisovyk

People & Culture Lead at Uptech

With 8+ years in Tech, Dariia is skilled at balancing direct work with people and structured HR process organization. Her experience spans from start-ups to global brands with 15 800+ team members.

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